Cigar Article: IPCPR 2012 Day 1
A New Bloggers Journal
(Editors Note: All of our Q&A’s are from the show are posted here.)
It was Saturday , August 4th, and IPCPR has already been in full swing for two days. Unfortunately I had to wait until today to get to Orlando, little detail called work had gotten in the way. It was a few minutes after 9 am and I had entered I-95 in West Palm Beach to begin my journey. I decided to take I-95 so I could make a stop for my wife at some outlet Shoppe’s in Vero Beach to get her something. That was mistake #1, as it took an hour from my IPCPR time and the shop didn’t even have what she wanted!
I arrive at the Orange County Convention Center a close to noon and after circling the rather immense convention center I figure out where I am supposed to park and get to the business of unloading for the trip inside. By now I was already aware of mistake #2, bring your own photography equipment. Unfortunately while driving to the show I got the call from my photographer that due to a family concern he wasn’t going to make it!
That changed the dynamic of how I would be able to present the show as it was now up to me, my I-phone, and I-pad to bring our readers as much as I could from the show floor. That’s when I decided to try and make this a personal journal, as opposed to pure news and observations, besides there are some other bloggers who are doing an amazing job with that.
I get my credentials and then down the escalator to the tradeshow floor. My excitement as I was greeted by IPCPR welcome banner and the plume of cigar smoke that hung low in the air.
As I walk onto the floor the scale of the show suddenly becomes very clear, it is BIG and any pre-show planning I had done was suddenly out the window. I decided to make it a goal to stay focused on the questions you, my readers, asked me to find out about so I pull out my I-pad with your questions and start walking.
I start to working my way to the far right of the trade show floor thinking if I go up and down the rows that way I should cover everything, mistake #3, there was no way I was covering everything!
As I walk down that first row I wander into the first name I recognized from our questions list, Cremo Cigars. I walk over and introduce myself to Walter Santiago, president of Cremo. He seemed a little surprised that there was a question for him but once I showed it to him he warmed up quickly. We spoke about the history of his brand, the fact that they are rolled at El Titan de Bronze (home of the La Palina Goldie I loved so much) and a little about his future projects.
When I left Walter I started working my way to the Cigar Family (Arturo Fuente) booth. Booth is a major understatement, it was a beautiful display and sales area almost the size of my house!. After schmoozing with one of the Fuente reps I was introduced to Karl Herzog, VP of Operations. Karl was great and took the time to answer a few Fuente questions and show off their planned releases. The Opus X Angel Share caught my eye and I was quite intrigued to hear they are experimenting with the “Shark” Vitola in some of blends other than Anejo and Opus X.
When I left the Cigar Family booth I was getting hungry I was pretty hungry so I grabbed a Gyro from the convention center food court. Well they said it was a Gyro, but it looked like over rehydrated mystery meat on a stale pita with lettuce. Then again you aren’t reading this for a food critique!
From lunch I stumbled into the Sosa Family booth. I had been talking with the Sosa’s recently as I recently reviewed one of their cigars (here). The Sosa operation exemplifies the family roots of a number of smaller operators in this industry. The patriarch overseeing the operation. The children running the operation. They were a pleasure to talk with and I think we spoke as much about our families as we did cigars.
When I left Sosa I decided to go to the far end of the show floor. The massive Drew Estate/Joya de Nicaragua booth was in my crosshairs. As I’m sure you can imagine the DE booth was a bit of a madhouse. They were incredibly busy showing off their new releases, including the Herrera Estelí, which looked amazing. I then introduced myself to Jose Blanco, whom I’ve had the pleasure of having a number of twitter conversations with. Jose was there introducing his new Cuenca y Blanco line. Jose was gracious enough to offer me a sample but I had to promise I’d smoke it on a clean palate to taste all the nuance. I’m a man of my word and the Cuenca y Blanco, despite being one of the cigars I am most interested in tasting, is still resting in my humidor waiting for a good afternoon where my palate is clean and my responsibilities are complete.
Not too far from the DE booth was Paul Stulac. Paul had an innovative set up with an open feel and an opulent royal feel to the décor. I introduced my self to one of his sales reps and before you know it he and I were sharing a couch and talking about everything from his start as a retailer in Canada to the inspiration to his design work. Paul was great to talk to and I made it a point to say hello every time I saw him for the rest of the show.
I then traveled through DE again and this time to the My Father Booth. My first stop at My Father was Pete Johnson of Tatuaje/Havana Cellars. I waited a few minutes for Pete to be free and after a brief introduction and explanation of what I was doing he welcomed me to sit down with him and chat. What followed was one of a number of highlights for me at the show, not to mention the Avion 12 I smoked with him while were talking was really good.
Pete was very welcoming in answering the questions I had brought, but more impressively we engaged in a fairly lengthy conversation where Pete was asking my opinion on the ideas within the questions I had posed to him. I didn’t record the conversation and won’t quote the man as I didn’t take the cleanest of notes, but Pete easily spent a half hour turning away other requests and instead discussed various varietals of tobacco, his history in the business, some future plans (his 10 year anniversary should be a great year for Pete’s fans) , and of course a passing mention of his passion for fine wine. Pete then gave me a tour of his new offerings for 2012 including his L’Atelier line which does bare a bit of a resemblance to the famed Cuban Behike.
As I left Pete I continued through the My Father Cigar booth and approached Jose Ortega, VP of Sales for My Father Cigars. I’ve had the good fortune of meeting Jose a number of times at various store events so he recognized me. When I told Jose I had a few questions for My Father Cigars he immediately brought Jaime Garcia over and acted as translator allowing me to get answers directly from the man himself. It was a very cool moment for this blogger. Thank you Jose and Jaime.
At this point of the day the show was winding down for the day and I decided to organize some notes. This is when I finally ran into William Cooper, proprietor of Cigar-Coop.Com. Coop is a fantastic blogger who provides a tremendous amount of information to his readers and he’s been a helpful resource for me and a friend in the blogging community. Coop, if you read this, I’m glad we finally got to meet and I’m really looking forward to seeing you again.
As we were exiting the show floor I ran into the guys behind Ezra Zion Cigars and Cigar Federation; Kyle, Chris, and the Don. What a great group of Cigar guys. After meeting them I can tell you they really are great guys to support and I hope they had a successful show. I think there Inception line is going to be talked about in a lot of year in review articles in December.
By the time I checked into my hotel I was pretty exhausted and was thinking pretty hard about relaxing for a few hours despite having plans to attend the EP Carrillo party. I knew I was going out late in the evening to celebrate a friends birthday, and I wanted to recharge. After an hour in the room my grumbling belly got the best of me, and a tweet from Tony Casas at CasasFumando.Com inspired a trip to Five Guys for some greasy goodness.
After consuming a heart attack on a bun for dinner I checked my twitter feed and saw a host of tweets from the Miami Cigar Company party at Corona Cigar Company. By happenstance the Five Guys I was at was across the street, so off I went.
Miami Cigar was throwing a heck of a party and even had a former blogger turned industry insider working the door. We chatted for a bit and I went in to enjoy conversations, cigars, and drinks. There is nothing like a party full of cigar industry people to follow a day with the manufacturers . What a tremendous group of people representing this industry. I had a great time spending the day with them.
(Editors Note: All of our Q&A’s are from the show are posted here.)
Stay tuned for our journal on day 2!