IPCPR 2015 Coverage – Day 3

IPCPR 2015 Coverage – Day 3

Last night, I took it easy and when souvenir shopping and sightseeing, so that I’d be fully recovered for the extremely busy day and wild night that was ahead. Today was simply crazy, not just because there is just so much to see and do, but because it was the night of the Cigar Dojo Bash at Hemingway’s. Sure enough, it was an awesome (but busy) day and night.

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The day began with a quick visit to my buddy Tom Poehler. The Poehler brothers are reps for several different cigar manufacturers, and are kinda like the Texas version of the Hernandez brothers (only taller and skinnier). Tom Poehler and Jay Lundy’s AKA cigar brand is one of the many boutique brands that call Texas home. (See our AKA Nthº review here.)

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Poehler and crew (including Jay Lundy, Eliot Suied and Romereo Hartfield) have come together to form the Acme Cigar Company. Since there was nothing new on the AKA side, it’s the Acme side of things that was really on display at this year’s IPCPR. Manufacture in Esteli, Nicaragua with tobacco from Oliva Tobacco Company, the new Acme brand is being launched with three core lines. The Acme Premier Ecuador uses an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a double Nicaraguan Criollo and Mexican San Andres binder, and a blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican filler.  The Acme Premier San Andres features a Mexican San Andres Broadleaf wrapper, a double Nicaraguan Habano and Mexican San Andres binders, and Nicaraguan filler tobacco. The Acme Route 66 (review upcoming) is a Nicaraguan cigar with some wonderful theming to it, that calls to mind the Nat King Cole song “Route 66”.

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I have to quickly mention a cigar brand that you won’t be seeing in your local brick and mortar, but it’s one of those odd anomalies worth mentioning…Greatwall Cigars. Greatwall Cigars (for some reason greatwall is one word), is actually a giant subsidiary of China’s forth largest tobacco manufacturer known as China Tobacco Chuanyu Industrial Co. They produce 160 billion Chinese cigarettes and 300 million all-Chinese tobacco cigars each year, and have technological partnerships with Altadis and Agio. Though the majority of their cigars are sold internally in China, some production is exported to Europe and other parts of Asia. Despite not having a US distributer, the company always has a large booth at IPCPR (although it does seem to shrink in size every year). To be honest, the cigars I’ve tried from them are quite horrible, by American standards.

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Towards the middle of the day I had a chance to sit down for an enjoyable chat with Jose Blanco and his wife Emma Viktorsson at their Las Cumbres Tabaco booth. Both have extensive experience in the cigar industry with Jose having worked at La Aurora and Joya de Nicaragua, and Emma working for Swedish Match and Genral Cigar. The Señorial and Señorial Maduro were reelse by Blanco since 2014, and are both extremely tasty cigars. However, at the 2015 IPCPR, is releasing her first brand named for the Viking goddess Freyja. The Freyja makes use of a Dominican Criollo ´98 wrapper, a Mexican San Andres binder and a mix of Dominican (Criollo ’98 & Piloto Cubano from two separate primings) and Nicaraguan (Esteli) filler tobaccos. The band is a copy an actual oil-painting made specifically for Freyja by painter Jana Joyanova, and it seems to fit the brand perfectly. Though I have yet to smoke one myself (although I do have some samples in the humidor), I’m sure that it will meet the standards expected from a cigar coming from Las Cumbres Tabaco.

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Perhaps the most talked about event at the show, is the still unfolding drama between La Palina and Cubanacan over the future of Hirochi Robaina and his HR 1845 brand. There has been a good deal of confusion surrounding the announcement that La Palina would be partnering with Hirochi Robaina. Hirochi would not become a La Palina employee, but would be working with La Palina at the La Corona factory in Esteli on their future Nicaraguan blends. Rumor is that Cubanacan seemed to have no idea that La Corona and Hirochi would no longer be working with them until they read it on another cigar blog. The big question is what will happen to the HR brand (that is sure to be a Cigar of the Year contender on many lists). Hirochi Robaina has stated to many people that it his his brand and blend, and Cubanacan was simply distributed by Cubanacan. La Palina and Bill Paley have made it clear that they had no claim to the brand, but several retailers did receive HR 1845 samples from the La Palina booth. Supposedly, Cubanacan was still taking orders for the cigar at their booth. So what is the future of the HR brand, I honestly don’t know. Cigar Coop has done a great job covering the story (read his latest article here). My personal theory is that Cubanacan will sell off whatever backstroke of the cigar they have before La Palina eventually takes over distribution (but not ownership) of the HR 1845. Only time will tell.

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Despite the Hirochi announcement taking center stage, there are two new cigars from Bill Paley’s company worth talking about. The more talked about of the two is the La Palina Red Label, which is meant to be a sister line to the Black Label. The Red Label is being made at PDR in the Dominican Republic, and features and Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, an Ecuadorian binder leaf with both Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. La Palina Red Label is being released in four sizes, and should be hitting stores next month. The second new line is the reintroduction of the La Palina Family Series Miami, being produced by El Titan de Bronze in Miami. The cigars have an Ecuadorian Corojo ’98 wrapper, Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and Nicaraguan filler. According to La Palina’s material, the Family Series Miami is being crafted only by elite teams of category 9 rollers. The price point on the La Palina Family Series Miami is a bit on the high side (somewhere in the $20 range), but should sell quite well to fans of the fans of Mr Sam and Goldie cigars coming from El Titan. Here at ToastedFoot we’ve been big fans of the La Palina brands coming from El Titan; the Mr. Sam and two Goldie releases have made our Top Ten list over the years including the Cigar of the Year in 2012.

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I visited so many other booths today, but didn’t see too much else worth sharing in today’s roundup. At the end of the day, I paid another visit to my friends at Cordoba & Morales. I can’t say enough good things about their brand. Billed as “Cigars for Golfers”, the Cordoba & Morales brand manages to be both classic and fresh at the same time. I really love these cigars, and hope to see them do well in the future.

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Finally, it was off to Cigar Dojo Bash at Hemingway Cigar Bar in the French Quarter. The guys at Espinosa, Moya Ruiz, D’Crossier and Arandoza sponsored the “best cigar party of the year” once again. There were Dojo members from around the country (many of whom aren’t even in the cigar business, cigar personalities (Erik Espinosa, Nestor Miranda and Robert Holt), and the Cigar Media Association board of directors (minus Seth Guise) all brought together by Master Sensei for a one night.

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During the Cigar Dojo Bash there were some wonderful raffle giveaways from Espinosa, D’Crossier and Moya Ruiz Cigars. CMA Board Member, Aaron Loomis of Blind Man’s Puff won a box of cigars, and in a very classy move gave it to the Dojo Nation member who traveled the furthest to be at the party. Then not long after that I won a box of 601 La Bomba cigars, and not to be shown up by our friends at Blind Man’s Puff, they were donated to Cigars for Warriors. Storm Boen posed for a quick pick as the cigars were donated to the troops. The Cigars for Warriors guys to a wonderful job, and are a cause that is worth supporting. (Loomis and I did keep the Dojo t-shirts we won.) On a side note, you can catch Aaron and I on Gigar Dojo’s Smoke Night Live next month.

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The Dojo Cigar Bash was the highlight of the show, at least for me. Not only was there plenty booze and cigars, but it was a chance to see some great people that I don’t see often enough. Master Sensei (Cigar Dojo), Aaron Loomis (Blind Man’s Puff) and William Cooper (Stogie Geeks) were all there representing their well done cigar media sites. Erik Espinosa and his guys from La Zona were great hosts. The crew from Stogies in Houston (Jorge, Jenny and “Chief”) stopped by, and even gave me a ride to my hotel so I didn’t have to walk in the insane heat and humidity of New Orleans. It’s events like this that really bring out the spirit of the Brothers and Sisters of the Leaf.

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Tomorrow is the final day of the show, and I’ll be there to cover it before making the six hour drive back to Houston.