World Class Cigarmakers Heading To Big Smoke Las Vegas

World Class Cigarmakers Heading To Big Smoke Las Vegas
Top left, clockwise: A.J. Fernandez, Rafael Nodal, Alan Rubin and Carlito Fuente Jr.

Cigar Aficionado’s Big Smoke will return to The Mirage Las Vegas Hotel and Casino the weekend of November 17. If you’ve already purchased tickets to our Friday or Saturday evening cigar parties, get ready to meet some of the cigar world's biggest stars while enjoying premium cigars, libations and a delicious buffet with your fellow aficionados. (For those still looking to purchase tickets, click here.)

This year, the cigar and spirits offerings are shaping up to be first-rate, and some of the most well-known cigarmakers in the world are set to appear. 

If you’ve been to a Big Smoke in the past, then you know the energy that comes from having so many celebrated cigarmakers together in one room. And if this is your first time attending a Big Smoke evening, get ready for a night you won’t soon forget. Not only will you receive more than 35 cigars directly from the hands of the men and women who crafted them, many cigarmakers also take the time to chat, answer questions and take pictures with cigar enthusiasts in attendance. 

"When I come [to the Big Smoke] I'm always interested in asking the cigarmakers questions,” said John Griffith of McAllen, Texas, at a past Big Smoke. “That's what's great about this: the consumer has a chance to speak directly with the makers of the product. It's something that's very unique to this industry." 

Check out the list below to see the cigarmakers confirmed to be in attendance at the 2017 Big Smoke Las Vegas:

A.J. Fernandez, A.J. Fernandez Cigar Co.

A.J. Fernandez was born in Cuba's countryside, in the San Luís area of Pinar del Río. In 2003, he left his homeland for Nicaragua, where he began rolling cigars for clients like Rocky Patel and Cigars International. Today, Fernandez owns one of Nicaragua’s biggest premium cigar operations, along with a host of popular brands such as San Lotano Oval, New World and Enclave. 

Rafael Nodal and Rob Norris, Aging Room 

Rafael Nodal’s Aging Room is noted for small-batch smokes and a portfolio that includes several critically acclaimed cigars, most notably the Aging Room Quattro F55 line, which was named Cigar Aficionado's No. 2 cigar of 2013 in the Concerto size. This year, Nodal will appear alongside Rob Norris and his Altadis U.S.A. family, which purchased the Aging Room brand earlier this year. For those attending the seminars, Rafael Nodal and Pedro Ventura, the head of premium cigars at Altadis’ Tabacalera de Garcia, will lead the much-anticipated Roll Your Own Montecristo event on Sunday morning. 

Alan Rubin, Alec Bradley

Alan Rubin has carved a space for itself in the world of premium cigars with lines such as Alec Bradley Prensado (the Churchill size was named the Cigar of the Year in 2011), Tempus, Mundial, Sanctum, Coyol and many more. Rubin’s company is named after his two sons, Alec and Bradley. This year, Bradley will join Rubin on the showroom floor. 

Carlito Fuente Jr., Arturo Fuente

In 1912, a young Cuban émigré named Arturo Fuente began making cigars in West Tampa, Florida. More than 100 years later, his namesake brand has grown into one of the world’s most critically acclaimed cigars. Today, the family business is run by Carlos Fuente Jr., grandson of Arturo Fuente and the son of Carlos Fuente Sr. Fuente Jr. is known for his creativity as a blender. His Hemingway series of perfectos, wrapped in Cameroon leaf, brought cigars of unusual shape back to the American cigar market in the 1980s.

Paul Palmer Fernandez, Casa Fernandez

The Casa Fernandez brand is part of the Aganorsa agricultural conglomerate, one of the largest growers and suppliers of Nicaraguan tobacco for the premium industry. Paul Palmer Fernandez, who runs their Miami factory, will be in attendance at the Big Smoke evenings and will speak at the “Made in Miami” Saturday seminars. 

Regis Broersma, Cohiba/Punch/Macanudo/Diesel Grind

General Cigar Co. is one of the largest producers in the premium cigar world. Its portfolio includes famous non-Cuban brands like Cohiba and Punch, as well as the iconic Macanudo. Regis Broersma, the president of General Cigar, is coming to Las Vegas to hand out these fine smokes to cigar lovers first hand. General will also offer Diesel Grind, a smoke made by A.J. Fernandez.  

Eric Newman, Diamond Crown

The Newman family has been in the cigar business for over 100 years. Their close partnership with the Fuentes has produced some fantastic cigars, most notably the Diamond Crown brand, which is made by the Fuente family at their Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia factory in the Dominican Republic. Eric Newman, who runs the company alongside his brother Bobby, will be representing the cigar family at this year’s Big Smoke. 

Radhames Rodriguez, El Artista

Tabacalera El Artista is a cigar company based in Tamboril, Dominican Republic. In recent years, the company has been noted for its Big Papi cigar, a tribute to legendary Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who spent his youth in the Dominican. Radhames Rodriguez is the son of Osvaldo R. Rodriguez, who has been the president of El Artista since 1976.

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, E.P. Carrillo Selección Oscuro

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, E.P. Carrillo Selección Oscuro

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, known throughout the industry as the “Godfather of Boutique Cigars,” is coming to the Big Smoke armed with his lauded Selección Oscuro brand. The Piramides Royal size, a 6 inch by 52 ring gauge figurado,  was awarded the No. 4 cigar of 2016. Perez-Carrillo will also be presenting this cigar at the “Top Cigars of 2016 Tasting” during the Saturday seminars. 

Erik Espinosa, Espinosa Cigars

Erik Espinosa is a Miami-based cigarmaker who produces cigars at his La Zona factory in Nicaragua. Aside from his mainstay Espinosa cigars, his portfolio consists of several well-known brands like 601 and Murcielago.

Jeff Borysiewicz, Florida Sun Grown

Jeff Borysiewicz, Florida Sun Grown

Orlando cigar retailer Jeff Borysiewicz’s Florida Sun Grown cigar contains elusive Florida-grown tobacco in its blend. The cigar was created by Willy Herrera, master blender at Drew Estate. The blend consists of a Brazilian wrapper, a binder from Honduras, and fillers from both Nicaragua and Florida.

Jose Oliva, Gilberto Oliva/Nub Habano 460

The Oliva cigar family is coming to the Big Smoke with their new Gilberto Oliva brand, a cigar that pays homage to its namesake, one of the founders of the company. Those attending the Big Smoke seminars will be treated to more Oliva cigars during Sunday’s “Top Notch Scotch” seminar, where a selection of Scotch will be paired with the Nicaraguan cigars. The Oliva’s will also hand out their popular NuB Habano 460 cigars at the Big Smoke evenings.

Hamlet Paredes, Tabaquero Hamlet Paredes

Hamlet Paredes, Tabaquero Hamlet Paredes

Hamlet Paredes was one of Cuba's star rollers, representing Habanos in various smoke shops around the globe, making custom shapes with his talented hands. Today, Paredes is part of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars Inc., and he has come out with a brand bearing his name under the Rocky Patel umbrella. 

Dion Giolito, Illusione

Created by Dion Giolito, a cigar retailer with an exacting palate and a vivid imagination from Reno, Nevada, many Illusiones have names that allude to conspiracies or codes that reveal only part of his message. Rolled primarily with Nicaraguan tobaccos in Nicaragua and Honduras, Illusiones are often flavorful, but rarely strong.

Litto Gomez, La Flor Dominicana

Fresh off his Andalusian Bull cigar earning Cigar Aficionado’s Cigar of the Year accolade, Litto Gomez is taking a victory lap at this year’s Big Smoke Las Vegas. Not only will he be handing out his fantastic La Flor Dominicana cigars at the evening cigar parties, those attending the seminars will receive an elusive Andalusian Bull cigar and hear a special talk from Gomez himself. 

José "Jochy" Blanco, La Galera

José "Jochy" Blanco's Tabacalera Palma factory in the Dominican Republic has been rolling cigars for more than 80 years. In addition to rolling cigars, Blanco also oversees an impressive tobacco growing operation. In 2015, Blanco debuted a new premium cigar brand called La Galera and has extended it with lines such as La Galera 80th Anniversary Box Pressed Limited Edition, La Galera 1936 Box Pressed and La Galera Maduro.

Bill Paley, Clay Roberts and Sam Phillips, La Palina

Bill Paley, Clay Roberts and Sam Phillips, La Palina

In 2010, Bill Paley revived La Palina, a brand his grandfather created in Chicago in the mid-1800s. Today, the brand includes several lines that have garnered several scores of 90 points or higher. La Palinas are manufactured in all the major non-Cuban cigar producing countries, including Miami's El Titan de Bronze factory. Paley will speak on Saturday during the “Made in Miami” seminar.

Meh Shah, Mbombay-Gaaja

A relative newcomer, California-based cigar retailer Mel Shah launched Bombay Tobak in 2014 so he could nationally distribute his house brands. His Mbombay Classic and Gaaja brands have received strong ratings in Cigar Aficionado magazine. 

Al Micallef, Micallef Cigars

The Texas-based company launched seven cigar lines last year and has everything in its extensive portfolio, from an $8 smoke all the way up to a cigar that retails for more than $40. All of Micallef’s cigars are rolled in Estelí, Nicaragua, at the Gómez Sanchez Family 1934 cigar factory.

Javier Estades, Monte by Montecristo/Romeo by Romeo y Julieta

Javier Estades, the president and chief executive officer of Tabacalera USA, the premium cigar division of Altadis USA, will be showcasing two heritage brands at this year’s Big Smoke. Monte by Montecristo, the newer of the two, and Romeo by Romeo y Julieta, known to be a bolder take on the traditionally-mild Romeo y Julietas. 

Janny Garcia, My Father Cigars

Janny Garcia, along with her brother Jaime and father, Jose “Pepin” Garcia, make up the My Father Cigars family. The Garcia’s have won Cigar of the Year two times, first in 2012 with the Flor de las Antillas Toro, and again, in 2015, with the My Father Le Bijou 1922. 

Jorge Padrón, Padrón Cigars

Jorge Padrón, Padrón Cigars

Jorge Padrón entered the cigar industry in the early 90s, joining the company that his father, José Orlando Padrón, founded. Shortly after, the father-son duo worked to create the company's first premium brand, the Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series. The company’s core Padrón line is one of the best-buys on the market. Padrón will speak on our “25th Anniversary Panel,” where icons from the cigar world talk about the enormous changes in the past quarter century. 

Nestor Andrés Plasencia, Plasencia

Tobacco scion Nestor Andrés Plasencia is a fifth generation grower and cigar manufacturer whose family has been in the business for more than 100 years. After decades of providing tobacco for most of the U.S. premium cigar industry, and producing cigars for other clients, Plasencia made a major effort to put out his own brand. The two latest cigars, Plasencia Alma Fuerte and Alma del Campo, have received positive reviews in Cigar Aficionado and Cigar Insider.

Rocky Patel, Nish Patel and Nimish Desai, Rocky Patel Premium Cigars

Rocky Patel produces cigars throughout Central America, from the company's factory in Nicaragua to Honduras and even the Dominican Republic. Patel has more than a fair share of Top 25 accolades, but his latest achievement came in 2016, when his Sun Grown Maduro Robusto scored 95 points, earning it the No. 2 spot on Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 Cigars of the Year. Attendees of the Big Smoke Seminars will get to smoke this fine cigar alongside Patel during the “2016 Top Cigars Tasting.” Rocky will also speak on our “25th Anniversary Panel,” where icons from the cigar world talk about the enormous changes in the past quarter century. 

Pete Johnson, Tatuaje

Pete Johnson, Tatuaje

Pete Johnson moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music, but soon found himself in the cigar industry when he began working for a small cigar shop in Los Angeles in 1993. In 2003, he created a cigar brand called Tatuaje (tattoo in Spanish), a reference to the many tattoos that Johnson has on his arms. Johnson will speak on Saturday during the “Made in Miami” seminar.