Cigar Aficionado

Going to the Trade Show

Starting Monday I’ll be in New Orleans for the annual International Cigar Pipe and Retailer trade show, the show formerly known as RTDA. Those of you who follow the industry know that this is the time when cigar companies unveil their latest smokes. Those of you who are new to this blog or website should get ready: there’s going to be a lot of news about great new smokes coming out next week.

I’ve already smoked samples of a few of the new smokes that have been sent to me. The Padrón Family Reserve No. 46, which will be on sale in September, is a gorgeous, box pressed corona gorda that is (predictably) delicious and refined. I’ve smoked that and enjoyed it immensely.

Just this week I tasted the new and substantially more powerful Room 101 Conjura from Camacho Cigars, and I liked it quite a bit. Lots of earth, a pleasant funkiness and a rip-roaring amount of nose spice (I gave one to Greg Mottola, and he dubbed the spice horseradish) make this a fun after lunch or after dinner smoke. Dylan Austin, director of marketing for the brand, warned me not to smoke it before lunch, and that’s a well-informed note of caution.

Rocky Patel's 15th Anniversary cigar, which went on sale a week ago, is also superb, very rich, nice and hearty, with a fine balance that comes from Ecuador Habano wrapper, which has become one of my favorites. I'm looking forward to smoking a few more of those, especially in the Toro size.

I love the trade show for many reasons. I went to my first in the summer of 1995, only one week after being hired by Cigar Aficionado. You’ve heard of trial by fire? There I was, on the trade show floor in Orlando, wearing a suit and tie (we were more formal in those days) grabbing cigars from every booth I could find, picking up business cards by the stack and filling notebooks full of information.

I met many people at the trade show that year, and many of them are still in the cigar business today. I’ve covered them for 15 years, and we’ve developed friendships over that time as I’ve learned ever more about how they make cigars and how each individual brings his or her own certain magic to the cigar industry.

I’m going to blog as often as I can and send Twitter updates from the show floor to get the word out on the new cigars. You’ll get the first blind ratings on the new cigars in Cigar Insider, as well as greatly detailed information on the brands.

I’m looking forward to the show. If you’ll be there, say hello, and if you can’t come along, do the next best thing and follow the events here on

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