IPCPR 2016 Coverage – Day 3

IPCPR 2016 Coverage – Day 3

Last night was a late night. One of the great things about the IPCPR Trade Show is getting to see all the people that you haven’t seen in a while, and for me that means a lot of the guys I left behind when I moved away from Florida. One of the not so great things about the show is the amount of alcohol that seems to be consumed. It was very hard to get going this morning. Still, somehow I managed to make it to the show floor to make the rounds to many of the companies I had yet to visit.

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My first stop of the day was an early morning visit to Gurkha to see my Texas rep buddy Will Jackson. There is a surprising amount of new stuff at the Gurkha booth, but the cigar that catches my eye is the new Heritage Maduro. The first Gurkha Heritage was a pretty good cigar, but I had a chance to smoke the new Maduro, which features a Mexican San Andres wrapper, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The Connecticut Shade wrapper trend continued, even at Gurkha which is known for fuller cigars, with the release of the Gurkha Pan American. Packaged in a box that looks like an old fashioned steamer trunk, the Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapped Pan American is a good looking cigar. There is also a new Cellar Reserve 21 Year, which also features a Connecticut Shade wrapper, and incorporates tobacco age 21 years before becoming part of the cigar. A new bourbon infused cigar that was a collaboration between Gurkha and Hatfield & Co. was also on display, but anyone that knows me knows that I don’t get too excited about infused offerings.

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There was one collection of five different cigars at the Gurkha booth, that though packaged in tubes like Gurkha infused cigar, was not actually a flavored/infused offering. Instead of being infused with various liquor flavors, this boxed set was blended to paired with different types of liquor. As a Scottish guy who loves a good single malt, and who adds a Pairing section to each review here on the site, this idea really intrigued me. There is an Oak Blend meant for pairing with a fine oak age malt such at the Macallan 15, a Portwood cigar meant for pairing with something such as the Balvenie 21 PortWood or Laphroig Cairdeas, a Sherry Cask cigar to pair with something along the lines of a Glenmorangie Lasanta or Tobermory 20, a cigar for pairing with a sipping rum like the Zafra 21 called the Havana Spice, and finally a Single Cask Blend to be paired with a bourbon such as Woodford Reserve or Angel’s Envy. The whole idea is something right up my ally. I’m looking forward to trying them out, and seeing how well they really pair with the suggested beverages.

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Nick Melillo’s Foundation Cigar Company released an amazing cigar last year with the El Güegüense, which earned the No. 2 spot on our Top Ten Cigars of 2015 list. This year, Nick’s company released its first Connecticut Broadleaf cigar called The Tabernacle. As Nick was one of the people behind some of Drew Estate’s biggest Broadleaf releases, I expected it to be a good cigar, and my expectations were definitely met. I’d say The Tabernacle was one of the better new releases from this year’s IPCPR. I can’t wait to try it after a little time in the humidor. Along with the more anticipated Tabernacle, Foundation Cigar Company is also releasing a value priced Charter Oak line with both a Connecticut Shade and Connecticut Broadleaf version. Finally, The Upsetters, which I mentioned in my Day 2 Coverage of Miami Cigar & Co. was also on display at the Foundation booth.

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Davidoff had one of the other stand out cigars of the show on display, the Davidoff Yamasa which joins the “Black Label” series of Davidoff cigars. While I was underwhelmed by last year’s Davidoff Escurio, I found the Yamasa to be an amazing cigar. Also unlike the Escurio, the Davidoff Yamasa comes in much more consumer/retailer friendly sizes including the Robusto (5” x 50), Toro (6” x 52), Piramides (6 1/8” x 52) and Petite Churchill (4” x 48). All are released in 12-count boxes, except for the Petite Churchill that comes in a 14-count box. This is a must try cigar, and I stopped by David of Geneva’s kiosk at the Venetian to buy some to bring home. The other new addition was to the “White Label” line, and is the Davidoff Signature Series, which was described to me as “a cross between the Davidoff Millennium Blend and Classic”. On the Avo side the big new release on display was the new Avo Classic Covers 2016 Volume 4.

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In their Camacho lines Davidoff has added a couple new cigars that were featured at their booth. Following the Camacho Shellback in the Brotherhood Series is the Camacho Check Six, which has an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 wrapper over a Nicaraguan Criollo 98 binder and a blend of Dominican, Honduran and Nicaraguan filler. The cigar retails at the same $12.50 price as the Shellback, and hopefully it’s just as good. While just in time for football season, Camacho is releasing a reblended/repackaged Mike Ditka Throwback. I was a fan of the old Ditka Throwback, and I’m looking forward to smoking the new one while finding out if JJ Watt really has recovered from his back injury. The new Throwback sells for $12.00, and comes in packaging that meld more with the Camacho look. The final noteworthy release at Davidoff’s booth was the Chief Cool Arrow from Matt Booth’s Room 101 Brand. Though there’s no official name for the line, it is packaged in a similar fashion to the Uncle Lee and Johnny Tobacconaut. Matt Booth fans are sure to snap up this cigar which uses a Mexican wrapper, Honduran binder, and fillers from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and notably Pennsylvania. Retailing between $12.50 and $14.50, the Chief Cool Arrow is in similar range to recent Room 101 releases.

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There’s one last thing I have to mention from the Davidoff booth that really has nothing to do with cigars, but nerd like me are going to love, which is the Star Wars themed S.T. Dupont releases of pens, leather goods and lightsaber replicas. The limited edition pens have holders shaped like and X-wing and TIE Fighter, and look so cool. Each pen with stand retails for £1,400 or about $1,852. We won’t be seeing any Star Wars Dupont MaxiJets, classic lighters or ashtrays, likely because Disney was not going to sell anything tobacco themed. I thought was cool, even if it wasn’t cigar related.

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After leaving Davidoff, I made my way over to the Altadis booth. While there were a good deal of new releases there, four of them really stood out. The first is the fact that they are finally putting some effort into bringing back the Por Larrañaga brand beyond just at as a TAA release. the new Por Larrañaga has a 2012 Connecticut Shade wrapper, 2012 Dominican Piloto binder, and Dominican Piloto and Olor filler both from 2013. The Montecristo Classic Series jar is pretty cool looking, and comes with 25 cigars at $16.00 each in the No. 2 (6” x 50) vitola. While not exactly new, the Cuban style jar makes it worth mentioning. Then the Montecristo Artisan Series continues the trend of several high end Montecristo releases with it’s $18.00 per stick price. The Artisan Series is supposedly a fuller bodied Montecristo, but it’s likely in the medium range for most cigar enthusiasts. Finally, it’s the Montecristo Pilotico Pepe Mendez that was the real stand out at the Altadis booth. The cigar features an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, Dominican binder, along with Nicaraguan and Dominican Pilotico filler. I had the chance to try one and it’s a pretty good cigar, though the $15 to $17 price may turn of some smokers. What really stands out about the Pilotico is the packaging that looks like an old wooden traveling case, which probably contributes a good deal to the price.

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I swung by the Quesada booth, who distribute Matilde Cigars, to talk to Enrique Sejas. The cigar industry is full of good people, but Enrique is one of those people that is always genuine and fun to be around.  Last year it seemed like the cigar everyone was talking about during the show was the Matilde Oscura. Interestingly, it was a cigar that wasn’t really on anyone’s radar before getting to New Orleans. This year, the Sejas family is releasing the Matilde Quadrata, their first box pressed line in the brand. By the time I got around to trying the Quadrata my palate was pretty shot from a long day of smoking at the trade show, but I could still tell it was a good cigar. The Matilde Quadrata has an Ecuadorian wrapper, Dominican binder with a blend of Dominican and Nicaraguan filler, as is in the medium to medium-full bodied category of cigars. The cigar is being released in three sizes; a 5 1/4” x 50 Robusto ($8.50), a 6” x 52 Torpedo ($9.00) and a 6 1/2” x 54 Toro Bravo ($9.00). This is definitely one of those cigars that is worth trying when it arrives at your local shop.

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If there was an award for cigar with the best name it would go to the new Pistoff Kristoff that was on display. This is a great gimmick, and I couldn’t help but laugh when I found even the “O” in “Pistoff” is an angry emoji. The full bodied Pistoff Kristoff blend features a San Andres wrapper, Indonesian binder and Nicaraguan filler. The name alone has me looking forward to trying this cigar.

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There wasn’t a whole lot of news out of the Nat Sherman booth, which was my next stop as Day 3 was winding down. A new Nat Sherman Metropolitan Habano will join the existing Connecticut and Maduro lines, which was the only new cigar on display. The company is adding new sizes in both its Metropolitan and Timeless lines. While there wasn’t a lot of new stuff being released specifically at the show, it is worth noting that the Nat Sherman Shrader was prominently on display. While the Michael Herklots era of Nat Sherman has had many great releases, the recently reviewed Schrader is among my favorites.

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As the day neared the close, I stopped by the HR/White Hat Tobacco booth. The HR brand is now being distributed by Spence Drake’s White Hate Tobacco, The original HR gained a lot of positive press when released, and this year it is going by the HR Claro and HR blue lines. I’m waiting until I get home to try either of the new HR releases, but if the past is any indicator of the present, the new additions to the HR brand will be a success both with the media and consumers.

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While at the HR booth, Spence told me I needed to check out a new company debuting at the show called Sacra Folium Cigar Co. The brand is the brainchild of Boris Grossman, a fellow Mets fan, who owns Matador Cigars out of Long Island, New York. The company is launching with five lines, all of which are produced by Raices Cubanas in Honduras, and with prices ranging from $7 to $10. So far, I hear good things about the Sacra Folium brand, but have yet to try them myself.

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I’m so beat, but tonight is the Altadis Cigar Bash, so I’m going to head back to the room and take a nap before listing to Eddie Money perform at the party.