Cigar Aficionado

Chicago's Biggest Cigar Party

I’m back from Chicago, site of Cigar Aficionado’s latest Big Smoke, which was Tuesday night. I met quite a few happy cigar smokers, and who could blame them? They were lighting up indoors, which you can do in fewer and fewer places every day, and they sampled cigars from a host of cigarmakers, drink fine spirits, wine and beer and had a great time. They even met some of the big names in the industry, including Carlos Fuente Jr., Tim Ozgener, Christian Eiroa and Rocky Patel.

(They might want to change the name to the Snowy City though—I woke up Wednesday morning to a slushy mess that cancelled three consecutive flights of mine. I felt lucky to sleep at home last night.)

Tuesday was a three-cigar night for me. I started with a C.A.O. Sopranos Associate at a cocktail party preceding the Big Smoke. (Joe Gannascoli, who played the late Vito Spatafore on The Sopranos, was at the party, so what could have been more appropriate to light up?) It was very tasty, but I wasn’t able to smoke more than about a third, because I had to run an errand in a different part of the hotel, the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, which no longer allows smoking in its lobby. Tough break for me.

Cigar No. 2 was a new one from Puros Indios. It was an 83rd Anniversary Perfecto Maduro, made in honor of Rolando Reyes Sr.’s 83 years. I’ve met Reyes a few times, including once in his factory in Danlí, Honduras. He’s a fascinating man, and one of most gifted cigar rollers in the business. His construction techniques are amazing. The perfecto is a smaller version of his Diadema, which might be the toughest cigar to roll in the cigar world. Imagine a pointed head, a foot that has curves like a light bulb, and then try to make it all look good using only a tobacco leaf and a curved knife. Not easy. The cigar had a rich, earthy flavor. It’s just hitting the market now.

My last cigar was my own personal reward for the day, something I had brought from the office. It was another perfecto, a Padrón 80th Anniversary that I brought back from my January trip to Nicaragua. It’s a flavor bomb, rich, sweet, spicy at just the right times…lovely.

The busy cigar week continues: tonight is a black-tie dinner for charity, and more than half the cigar industry is in town. You'll read all about it on Gordon Mott's blog soon.

"A more appropriate smoke with Vito Spatafore would have been the Finocchio. " —April 18, 2007 13:43 PM