IPCPR 2016 Coverage – Day 4

IPCPR 2016 Coverage – Day 4

This is my last day in Vegas, and it will be good to be heading home. I really need some sleep. I awoke early and got most of my things back. I can’t help but think whoever is on the flight home  next to me is going to hate me because I’l reek of cigar smoke, I’ll be sleeping and likely be snoring too. Still there’s more to do today, so back to the show floor for a bit.

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Everyone always wants to know what Tatuaje and Pete Johnson are up to, but there wasn’t a whole lot of hype surrounding the Tatuaje booth this year, or My Father for that matter. The latest La Verite was on display, and I’m told it will likely be the last one Tatuaje ever makes. Just before IPCPR the Tatuaje Reserve Black Label went on sale, and it was definitely fairly prominent, though most retailers I know already placed their orders for it. The real star of the Tatuaje booth was the Skinny Monsters. This year, there will be a Skinny Monsters set with all ten monsters, including the Chuck and Tiff,  in a 6” x 38 size. Along with the sets, there will also be 25-count boxes of each of the individual Skinny Monsters. Only 400 of each box is being made, and they do come in brightly colored boxes. I’m pretty sure Tatuaje fanatics are going to go crazy trying to collect them all.

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AJ Fernandez seems to be very hot right now. He’s been releasing a lot of good cigars, at very reasonable prices, such as the New World and Last Call. It’s not only the stuff he makes for himself that’s been popular, but the cigars he makes for other companies (ie. Southern Draw, Nomad), which is obviously why General asked him to partner with them on the new Hoyo. The new Hoyo was on display at both booths this year, as it was kind of a big deal. The Last Call is getting Maduro version which was on display at AJ, as well as the recently released Last Call Habano. AJ’s newest cigar, the box pressed Belle Artes is one that I found really interesting. Supposedly, the wrapper on the Belle Artes is a proprietary Hybrid Rosita that is a 50% U.S. Connecticut 8212 Shade, 25% Corojo 99, 25% Havana 2000. The final cigar that was given a very prominent role at this year’s AJ booth was the La Gran Lava, that is being made by AJ Fernandez. I’ve had the chance to try the La Gran Lava, and it’s a pretty good cigar that is definitely worth checking out.

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Those who are regular readers of our site will should probably know Bombay Tobak, maker of MBombay Cigars. Shortly before the IPCPR this year, Bombay Tobak released its second brand called Gaaja. Made at Tabacos de Costa Rica, the factory behind the Byron, Atabey and Bandolero cigars, the Gaaja is the first box pressed release from Bombay Tobak. Although it didn’t take center stage, there will also be a Maduro version coming in the future. The Gaaja is an excellent medium bodied cigar that is in line with the other excellently balanced cigars the company has released in the past. Bombay Tobak is on of those boutique companies to watch.

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Our Cigar of the Year in 2015 was the Warped Flor del Valle Sky Flower, and the company earned a total of three spots between our Top Ten List and Honorable Mention List. So, this year, Warped was one of those boutique brands that I was very excited about. There are two new lines from Warped this year. The first is the Villa Sombra, made by Casa Fernandez, which features an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper. The other new line is the Maestro del Tiempo, also coming from Casa Fernandez’s TABSA factory, which has a Nicaragua Jalapa Corojo ’99 Clara wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and Nicaragua Criollo 98 and Corojo 99 filler. The Maestro del Tiempo makes use of medio tiempo, the high priming tobacco found on a small number of tobacco plants, that was one of the things that made the Skyflower so unique.

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Many may have tried the Protocol from Cubariqueño Cigar Company, or at least seen the Instagram photos of those who have. Coming out of Erik Espinosa’s La Zona Factory in Esteli, the Protocol brand has quickly caught on amount avid cigar enthusiasts. This year, Juan Cancel and Bill Ives’ company is introducing a Protocol Maduro called the “Probable Cause” that uses a Mexican San Andres wrapper. Although previously released, the Protocol Lancero was also prominently on display. The lacero lover, like myself, will definitely have to try the Protocol Lancero which was quite tasty.

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Sharing the booth with Espinosa Cigars was D’Crossier, which is distributed by Espinosa, though not made at the La Zona Factory. These Costa Rican cigars have always been a favorite of mine. This year there were several noteworthy introductions by Santana Diaz’s D’Crossier. The first was the D’Crossier Presidential Collection Pennsylvania Avenue, which was one of the better cigars I smoked at this year’s trade show. The cigar is meant to pay tribute to Santana’s love of the country he now calls home, while also making a statement about the FDA’s regulation of the cigar industry. Another release one of the new releases is the Flor de D’Crossier Enormous 360, a big ring gauge (65) release, coming in a Claro and Oscuro versions. The final new release was the more traditional Flor de D’Crossier Cabinet Selection No.1. The Cabinet Selection features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Dominican binder with fillers from Nicaraguan and Costa Rican.

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It’s getting close to the end of this half day, but it seems only right to end this year’s IPCPR in the same way that I began last year’s, with a visit to my buddy Erik Espinosa’s booth. Before getting on with the rest of the new Espinosa releases, I have to mention the newest addition to the Stogies World Class Cigars H-Town Lancero Series, the Espinosa Laranja Reserva H-Town. It is one of the best cigars in the whole series, and with a $8.50 price point it is a steal. Joining the Espinosa Habano this year is the Espinosa Crema, an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade offering meat to be an introductory cigar to the Espinosa brand for those that aren’t medium-full to full bodied smokers. The other bog release this year is the Espinosa Alpha Dawg, which features a Habano Rosado wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler. There is a rounded Murcielago, and a box pressed Espinosa Habano coming to retailers. Finally, Espinosa has entered the infused market with @Zucar, which is being made in the Dominican Republic. While I’m not a fan of infused cigars, I am a fan of Erik’s cigars, so I’m actually interested in trying the @Zucar.

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After saying goodbye to Erik, Hector, Anthony and Santana at the Espinosa booth, I took off to check out of the hotel. While walking through the Casino, I got a text from United saying that my flight was delayed, so I decided to stay a while and play some blackjack. I won a little under $200, and decided to head to the airport. The response of the TSA when my Nestor Miranda backpack contains all of my samples went through the x-ray machine was hilarious. I’m not quite sure they knew what to make of it. Anyhow, I’m so tired and it is time to call it a day.

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When the weekend is over, I’ll publish my final thoughts on the show. In the coming weeks there will be a whole lot of reviews of upcoming cigar releases.