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Trade Show, Day One

Aug 10, 2009 | By David Savona
Trade Show, Day One
I took the early flight yesterday morning with Gordon Mott to New Orleans, taking off at 7 a.m. from JFK and landing in NOLA at 9. We were able to get to the convention center just after 10, right at the time the show floor opened for the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers show. Perfect. We stepped in and were immediately greeted by the aroma of fine cigars.

This trade show is the gathering of the premium cigar industry. They show off their latest creations and retailers—ideally lots of them—walk the aisles and buy (hopefully) lots of cigars. The editors at Cigar Aficionado? We walk around looking for great stuff to smoke so we can tell you all about it.

And I did indeed smoke some great ones yesterday. One of my favorites was the La Flor Dominicana Double Press.
Imagine a box of 10 cigars, each of them very flat, each of them in a little chamber. When you smoke all ten, flip it over and there’s the same presentation, with 10 more cigars. People often ask me what box pressing does to a cigar. In terms of flavor, the answer is nothing—a flat cigar tastes just as it would if it was round. But the pressing gives the wrapper an extra stretch. You stretch a wrapper to bring out its oils, and pressing takes that stretching to an extreme. Pressing it extra flat as with this cigar really stretches the wrapper, and makes it look absolutely gorgeous, slimming any veins. But forget the jazzy packaging and the flatness of the cigar—the Double Press is delicious. The kicker is the Habano seed wrapper grown in Ecuador, one of my favorites. Litto Gomez, the cigarmaker behind the brand, also uses the same wrapper (but a higher priming, I believe) on his Salomone, but this cigar is more nuanced, more balanced. “It’s not very aggressive,” Litto told me while we both smoked one at his booth. I found it very rich, nicely balanced and tasty indeed.

The Quesada family was in great spirits, riding high on the success of Casa Magna Colorado. I happily accepted the new Casa Magna Colorado Extraordinario (I tweeted about this smoke the first time I puffed it, one week ago—love it) and lit up the new Honduran Casa Magna, the Casa Magna Oscuro. I find this one drier than the Colorado, with more roasted flavors and not as much sweetness. Fans of really dark cigars will love the near black wrapper.

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo and his family were set up at their new EPC Cigar Co. booth. I lit up the new E.P. Carrillo Edicion Inaugural 2009 cigar, a one-sized special release measuring 5 3/8 inches by 52 ring.
I enjoyed it quite a bit—it had a bright element to it, a core of sweetness and truly good balance. It’s not a mild cigar, not a strong cigar, but a very flavorful smoke. So nice to see Ernie back making cigars. He was busy with a cameraman filming a documentary (I even said a few things on camera) so I have to go back to say hello to him when he has a free moment.

Around 1, I felt my stomach growling, so I grabbed Greg Mottola of Cigar Aficionado and we headed to Mufates, a casual and huge restaurant. A bowl of Zyadaco gumbo fixed me up nicely, and I was ready for more smokes.

I tried Ashton’s new Aroma de Cuba, rolled by Pepin Garcia. Delicious. They’ve swapped the somewhat speckled Cuban seed Honduran wrapper for a Connecticut broadleaf, and its nice broadleaf, really dark and unusually clean. It has good spice and taste, with that hearty broadleaf signature.

I puffed on a Padrón Serie 1926 (always good, no surprise) in the Padrón booth and Jorge Padrón showed off the new Family Reserve. His father was in great spirits, but he wasn’t happy with the espresso from the counter outside. This man misses his homemade Café Cubano. Can’t blame him—that stuff is hard to beat.

My last stop of the day was at Rocky Patel’s booth, which was set up like a mini party. Rocky handed me his new 1961 cigar, named for the year he was born. Sam Philips from the company handed me a Pilsner Urquell—they had a keg at the booth! Do you know how good a cold Pilsner tastes after seven hours of smoking cigars? The cigar was lovely as well, with a balance and elegance that I appreciated.

After the show, I cabbed it back to the hotel, where I had about 20 minutes to unpack and change for the Altadis U.S.A. cocktail party. We cabbed it over there (I think I dropped $100 on cabs on Sunday) and after having a drink, a quick smoke and saying hello we went on another cab ride to the Elms Mansion, where C.A.O. International was throwing a dinner party. The party was wonderful, with good company, rich New Orleans cuisine and (of course) great cigars. I lit up a CAO Lx2 Salamone, a blend I truly enjoy. It was big, flavorful, and nicely sweet.

Team Cigar Aficionado got back to the hotel around 11:30 and headed to the courtyard for some smokes—but I was gassed. Having woken up at 3 a.m. local time, I was pretty spent. I made it all of about 45 minutes before ducking out for my room, where I got some much needed sleep.

Now it’s time to get back into the fray. Day two of the trade show is here, and the show floor opens at 10. I’m going back in.
"Have a couple of questions...1. The Aroma De Cuba is now being blended and rolled by Pepin for Ashton? Is it a better (more flavor and fuller stick) than the Aroma de Cuba Especial Edition?2. Have you tried the new Illusione Nosotros w/Drew Estate (i'm a fan of the Liga Privada no.9). How does it compare to the Illusione cg4 profile?3. I love Litto Gomez's Stick especially the small batch and Chisel. How's the Double press compare?Great article looking to her more from the show." —August 10, 2009 17:15 PM
"Hi Terry, and thanks. I smoked the new Aroma De Cuba, and I think it does have a more intense flavor than the previous version. (you can tell new from old by the red foot band, also the big "new blend" sticker on the box. Better is a matter of personal taste. I thought the old one was good, too. It's definitely a better looking cigar and has more intensity of flavor.Didn't try the Nosotros yet, but I hope to soon. Double Press isn't as strong as a Chisel and (in my opinion) is a richer, more pleasant smoke than the Small Batch. I'm really enjoying the blend." —August 11, 2009 17:33 PM
"Nice Job,,,How sweet is your job?" —August 10, 2009 11:21 AM

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