Big Smoke Thoughts

Back at my desk today after a weekend in Las Vegas with the most enthusiastic, upbeat cigar smokers that you could find anywhere on the planet. The occasion was the 2009 Big Smoke, which is one of my favorite annual events. In the upcoming days, you’ll read and see our coverage of each Big Smoke night, and the two days of seminars. Here are a few of my ruminations.

Penance of a Red Sox Fan
Yes, I put on a New York Yankee World Championship hat and asked my good friend Jose Blanco of La Aurora, a true Yankee fan, up to the podium to present the hat to him. After all, it was the only honest thing to do since I had humiliated him (sort of) after the two years my beloved Boston Red Sox won the world championship. When he not only accepted the hat, but then asked me to kiss it, I did that too, reluctantly and with great pain. All I can say to Jose is, “Wait ‘til the Red Sox win it again.” Hopefully, it won’t be another 80 or so years.

Tobacco Seminars
The guys will be reporting on the details of the seminars, and the panelists who all did a great job. My thanks to Nestor Plascencia Jr. of the Plasencia tobacco growing family and Sam Leccia, the creator of the Nub brand for Oliva Cigar Co. They both showed great knowledge about tobacco, and gave great answers to the questions thrown their way. I’ve now been in the cigar world long enough (17 years to be exact) to have the next generation start to move into positions of responsibility and authority. Whether it is the young Quesada daughters, Sathya Levin from Ashton, Jorge Padrón at Padrón Cigars…the list actually is long. But the observation is the same: These guys are good. Apart from the knowledge they have, and the expertise they have developed over the years, they have brought with them something that can’t really be taught: The passion of their fathers. It’s a treat to see.

Big Smoke Nights
I’ve been to more than 100 Big Smokes…I’ve lost track of the exact number. But I never get tired to talking to Cigar Aficionado readers and hearing their comments about the magazine. What I can also tell you is that it is hard to imagine more happy people in one place at the same time. What’s not to be happy about? There was food from half a dozen Las Vegas restaurants, including Charlie Palmer’s great Aureole, spirits including Jack Daniels, Ron Zacapa, Bombay Sapphire, a whole table’s worth of single malt Scotches…oh, I’m going to stop here because no matter how hard I’ll try I’ll forget someone who should be mentioned. Put it this way, if you couldn’t find something you liked to drink at the Big Smoke, you don’t like to drink. And, of course, there were the cigars, including the number one cigar of 2008, the Casa Magna Colorado Robusto from Manuel Quesada.

Just so you all can start planning now, the 2010 Big Smoke Las Vegas is Nov. 12, 13 and 14th. If you get a twinge reading my descriptions, or think you might like to be there next year, put it on your calendar now. Come join us at the best cigar party in the world.

Photo by Sjodin Photography

"Great thoughts. I just wanted to mention that all of the spirit purveyors were wonderful... except the wine booth. They were the stingiest bunch of people in the building that night. You literally could not enjoy a full glass of wine and they were downright rude if you went back for seconds!" —December 8, 2010 12:06 PM
"Gordon,You are a man of your word, hope that I don't have to kiss the Red Sox cap next year, but if Boston wins will be up on the stage, as always the Big Smoke was great and the seminar was Fantastic, take care." —November 23, 2009 10:43 AM
"Gordon, Your "who's your daddy?" kissing of the Yankees cap is priceless. AB" —November 19, 2009 17:07 PM