Team Cigar Aficionado is here in hot Las Vegas at the annual IPCPR trade show, where cigar companies unveil their latest creations for the retailers in attendance. For us at the magazine, we get a chance to meet with the players—major and minor—in the premium cigar business and test out their newest smokes.
As I write this blog its about two hours before the show floor opens for day three. If you’ve been following my Tweets, and those of my coworkers, you’ll have followed along with our findings.
Yesterday was a busy one, with a full day of the show, a working lunch, a meeting once the show closed and then off to a party high atop the Palms with Alec Bradley Cigar Co. The workday began at 10 and ended at midnight. I may have lost count of how many cigars I tried. Many were great.
Looking through some of the offerings I’ve seen so far, there’s quite a mix in terms of power. For those who prefer their cigars strong, there is the 601 La Bomba Warhead, a very dark and pressed smoke from Espinosa Cigars that I smoked and enjoyed. It had power, especially at first, but enough sweetness to round it out. Fuente, which had big plans for 2012 that were derailed by fire, now is poised to unveil several lines, including the strong Arturo Fuente Destino al Siglo, a line of four cigars that come packed in boxes resembling books. (And before anyone says this is a copy of the Habanos book collection, recall that Fuente packed Hemingway Masterpiece cigars in book-like boxes back in the 1980s.) I smoked a Churchill-sized example of the smoke yesterday with its creator, Carlos Fuente Jr., and found it leathery and strong, with great flavor. It has things that remind one of Fuente Fuente OpusX, but it also has its own identity. The Garcia’s new El Centurion, one of my favorites from Monday, is strong and chocolaty and full of big flavor.
Medium bodied has the greatest array of choices. The new Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro, which has a touch less power in my opinion than the traditional Serie V, is a box-pressed torpedo made with a maduro wrapper from Mexico’s San Andrés Valley. Davidoff Nicaragua, the company’s first Nicaraguan puro, is a very pleasant smoke with a rich and medium-bodied character. I smoked several samples before the show, and I’ve enjoyed every one. Azan from Nicaragua, a new cigar from Roberto Duran Pelayo, has a solid toasty character with a touch of cinnamon. La Palina’s Classic line, which has done well in Cigar Aficionado tastings, has expanded with a new lancero size, which I enjoyed quite a bit. It’s a very savory medium-bodied blend.
On the mild side, the Nat Sherman Sterling Mareva I smoked on Monday was easygoing, toasty and bready, a good first smoke of the day for me. Hammer+Sickle’s new Icon (which I have yet to try but have spoken about with its owner) was blended with Connecticut tobacco to be very mild. I have a lot of cigars left to try, and not much time. I’m heading back shortly to join the Cigar Aficionado crew and hit the floor again. Keep abreast on our Twitter feeds, and smoke along.