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The Big Smoke Lights Up Sin City

| By David Clough | From Top 25 Cigars Of The Year, January/February 2020
The Big Smoke Lights Up Sin City
Photo/Jacob Kepler
A sold-out crowd getting ready to light up and enter the showroom floor at Cigar Aficionado’s Big Smoke Las Vegas. Nearly 4,000 people attended.

A crowd of nearly 4,000 cigar lovers gathered in the desert in November for one of the biggest cigar celebrations in the world—The Big Smoke Las Vegas. Packed with daytime seminars and rambunctious evening parties, the sold-out show attracted cigar fans from all across the United States and as far as China and Australia. This was the 24th annual Big Smoke Las Vegas, which has drawn an international audience of cigar fans for its entire history. 

The smoke-filled weekend kicked off on a Friday at the Mirage Hotel and Casino with an evening extravaganza. Guests enjoyed plenty of handmade cigars, fine food and high-end spirits, and mingled with some of the biggest names in the cigar world, including Rocky Patel of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana, Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Cigars and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo of EPC Cigar Co., maker of Cigar Aficionado’s 2018 Cigar of the Year.

Of course you can smoke at a Big Smoke, but you also collect cigars to take home, and the evening’s haul consisted of a treasure trove of high-end, handmade cigar brands: Aging Room, A.J. Fernandez, Alec Bradley, Archetype, Arturo Fuente, Balmoral, CAO, Casa Turrent, Diesel Whiskey Row, Don Pepin, E.P. Carrillo, H. Upmann, Hamlet Paredes, J.C. Newman, Joya de Nicaragua, La Aroma de Cuba, La Flor Dominicana, Macanudo, Montecristo, Nat Cicco, Nub, Oliva, Oscar Valladares, Padrón, Plasencia, Rocky Patel, Romeo y Julieta, Tatuaje, Vegas Cubanas and The Wise Man.

While guests socialized, puffed cigars and shook hands with the very men and women who made their smokes, they also partook in a fine selection of spirits, beer and cocktails. The lineup of drinks vendors included Bacardi, Bird Dog Whiskey, Cardenal Mendoza, Calumet Bourbon, Dewar’s, D’Ussé Cognac, Grand Brulot, Glengoyne, Guinness, Hennessy, Jack Daniel’s, Johnnie Walker, Kentucky Owl, Lagavulin, Santa Teresa 1796, Talisker, Tequila Indianos and WhistlePig Whiskey, as well as San Benedetto water.

Along with cigar and drink vendors, there was also a robust buffet of food, with special offerings from Delmonico’s Steakhouse, Texas de Brazil and Cocolini. A live band filled the room with music, and guests had the opportunity to explore lifestyle exhibits from Bugatti Lighters, Carl F. Bucherer watches, Dominican Republic Tourism, Peter James cigar cases and Rabbit Air smoke eaters.

The Friday festivities were repeated on Saturday with a second roaring night of cigars, drinks and camaraderie. The morning seminars featured a tasting of the top three cigars of 2018 and a variety of panel discussions with industry luminaries and the editors of Cigar Aficionado. The seminars covered a range of topics, including Women in Cigars, Power Tobacco, Fighting the FDA and Investing in Cuban Cigars. There was also a trivia game show, and on Sunday there were more cigar-focused seminars, including a cooking demonstration, a cigar-rolling competition and a Tequila and mezcal tasting.

The Big Smoke travels next to Hollywood, Florida, April 3–4, 2020, with Big Smoke meets WhiskyFest, an event combining the best of cigars and whisky. The Big Smoke Las Vegas returns once again to the Mirage November 20–22, 2020.

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