IPCPR 2015 Coverage – Day 4 (Final Day)

IPCPR 2015 Coverage – Day 4 (Final Day)

Finally, it’s the final day of the show! In some ways it seems like it’s been a very long show, and in other it seems like there just hasn’t been enough time. This year the convention space was so long that it was difficult to navigate, and required insane amounts of walking. (My phone says I’ve averaged 11.2 miles a day for the last three days.) Maybe I’m just getting old (or I’m hungover), but rushing from one booth to another or one side of the floor to another has taken a toll. Yes, there are some great and good cigars to try, but there are also mediocre and just plain bad cigars also. So, it’s with a sigh of relief that I start my final day on the IPCPR Trade Show floor.

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Today began with something of a special moment; I had the privilege of watching my friend (and ToastedFoot.com sponsor) Abe Dababneh receive an award from Cigar Rights of America for his tireless efforts in supporting the rights of cigar smokers everywhere. First, for those few of you who don’t know him, I feel I should tell you a bit about Abe (since he never would). In 1996 Abe moved to Florida, and opened his first 900 square foot retail shop in Tequesta. From this small shop in Tequesta, Abe built a thriving cigar business with 12 retail locations (Smoke Inn), a successful online business (smokeinn.com), one of the largest cigar festivals in the country (The Great Smoke), an amazing MicroBlend line of cigars (see our review of the Pope of Greenwich Village), a poker tournament and a Saturday morning radio show (Kiss My Ash Radio). He has donated his time and money to a good number of charities, including the Kids Cancer Foundation (from whom he was awarded their Man of the Year award at the Great Smoke 2013) which is a charity close to my heart. At the Great Smoke he’s donated memberships to Cigar Rights of America (including my first membership), and he donates advertising to Cigar Rights on his weekly radio show. Few people realize just how much he gives of himself because he’s not the kind to tell everyone. He is an honest and generous man, and someone whom I’m honored to call my friend.

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It was nice to see Abe Dababneh recognized for his contributions in fighting for the right and freedom for cigar smokers. Glynn Loope (Executive Director of the CRA) and Bobby Newman (Executive Vice President of J.C. Newman Cigar Co.) presented Abe with a plaque for his efforts on behalf of the cigar industry at the Cigar Rights booth. It was a great way to start the last day of the IPCPR.

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After leaving the Cigar Rights booth, I headed to the nearby Sindicato Cigars booth. I have to admit, I’m partial to this booth for more reasons than just the soft carpet. Although there was nothing new actually on display, it doesn’t mean that there was nothing new. When Jim Colucci had a free moment, he handed me the Sindicato Miami Edition. The Sindicato Miami Edition will come in one vitola, a Salomon rolled by Casa Fernandez in Miami. If the past Sindicato releases are any indication, the Miami Edition should be a very good cigar. (Check out our review of the original Sindicato here.)

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I’ve gotta mention the cigars from the Klin Groupe. Their Hammer & Sickle brand doesn’t have much new, but I want to talk about it for a minute before getting into their new offering. To be honest, I’ve always had mixed feelings about the brands name. On one side, they bring back memories of a simpler time when we in the West knew who the bad guys were (instead of faceless terrorists). On the other hand, Russia is quickly becoming the bad guy again and their past actions aren’t something to be glorified. However, all that aside, they are amazing cigars. The whole Hammer & Sickle line is good. (See our Hammer & Sickle Tradicion and Moscow City reviews.) They are blended Hendrik Kelner and made at Davidoff, so the quality and consistency of the brand is top notch. Basically, these cigars are the equivalent of purchasing a $10 Davidoff. I really love these cigars, and it’s sad that the theming has kept them off some retailers shelves, even more so considering that (despite the Russian theme) the company is based in Lowell, Massachusetts. This year, the company has renamed their Icon series the Trademark series, after a drawn out dispute with Cigars International over the name. They will be adding a Trademark Maduro that uses a Mexican San Andres wrapper in three sizes (Robusto, Toro and Churchill).

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So, now that I’m off my Hammer & Sickle soapbox, I gotta share a bit about Klin Tobacco’s new cigar brand Caleanoch. Being as my family’s Scottish and that I think the Hammer & Sickle brand is great, I was super excited about this cigar going into the show. It is the first cigar ever to use peat fire cured tobacco. This year the company is releasing the Calenoch 25 in a Toro (6” x 50), in which 25 percent of the filler tobacco is peat fire cured corojo. I was told that in the future they plan on adding a 50 percent and a 70 percent version. The concept interesting, and I’m dying to try one with a dram of Lagavulin or Ardbeg. The cigars are being packaged in tins of 12 that are reminiscent of how a bottle of single malt scotch whisky is packaged. The MSRP on the Caleanoch 25 is $12.50, and you can expect them to ship to your local retailer in the next month or so.

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Oscar Valladares and “Island Jim” Robinson of Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co had some interesting new cigars on display (along with more familiar offerings) on display at their booth. If you’ve never heard of Leaf by Oscar, you’re missing out on some very good and very unique cigars. The core line of cigars come in four blends (Connecticut, Sumatra, Corojo and Maduro), but what sets these cigars apart is that they’re wrapped in a tobacco leaf instead of cellophane. This year there were two new additions to the Leaf by Oscar brand and a Island Jim No. 2. The first new addition is a massive 21” x 100 cigar that comes in an individual coffin aptly named the Woody. The woody is so big that it takes four binder leafs and four wrapper leafs to This cigar is poised to be and event only release, and has a retail price somewhere in the $50 range. (Eventually, I hope to review this cigar just for the novelty of it.) Another large 8” x 66 cigar called the Big Johnny was also on display, and should start appearing on shelves shortly after the show. Finally, the Island Jim No. 2 was also front and center at the booth. This interesting torpedo has the look of a No 2 pencil.

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It was double trouble at the joint My Father and Tatuaje booth, as it was not only two companies under one booth, but was a booth with the two massive personalities of independent reps Tom Poehler and Pete Hernandez. On the My Father side of things, there is a new version of the Centurion featuring a Connecticut Sun Grown Habano wrapper in place of the original Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 wrapper. The My Father Limited Edition 2015 celebrates the 5th anniversary since the line originally debuted. This year’s offering uses an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper, double corojo and habano binders along with Nicaraguan fillers. Only 4,200 boxes of the 6 1/2” x 52 toro will be released. As everyone should know by now, this year’s Tatuaje monster will be the Hyde. L’Atelier is releasing the La Mission du L’Atelier that is being made at My Father Cigars. The La Mission has a Mexican San Andres wrapper over Nicaraguan tobacco. Finally, a new lonsdale (6 3/4” x 43) is being added to the Racine, an IPCPR trade show exclusive, that will be limited to 1,500 total boxes.

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Francisco Almonte, formerly of La Flor Dominicana had his line of Dominican Big Leage Cigars on display. Francisco is a very personable guy, whose DBL Cigars have a good look about them. The sample I tried was quite flavorful, and I’m looking forward to eventually featuring them on this site in more detail sometime down the road.

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Before calling it a day I paid a final visit to the GMD booth, whose cigars impressed me so much during the show. Everything they had on display was impressive, and this is a company that I can see myself really getting behind in the future. Leened Gilman of GMD is a classy guy who understand that there is always a place for high quality luxury cigar on the market. The companies six brands (Imperior, Gran Apertura, Euphoria, Heritage 1492, Castillo del Morro and Juan de la Cosa) have all that gentlemen cigar smokers have come to expect in a luxury brand. I do think the name Global Marketing & Distribution needs to change, but since the cigar stand up on their own the company, the name may not have too much negative impact.

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Check back soon for my final thoughts on this year’s IPCPR.