With everything going on lately, there just hasn’t been the time to get a proper cigar review ready. So no tower of burn this week. In its place, I’ve compiled some thoughts and observations on the trade show and how it went.
The Overall Scene
Months before tickets were booked for this year’s trade show, the speculation was that attendance would be pretty light. And after a very well attended Gala Reception, the foot traffic on the floor seemed to support that. I don’t have an exact count of the attendance, but anecdotally, I heard that a number of people decided to attend at the last minute. So it seems fair to speculate that the head count wasn’t quite as lows as anticipated. Supporting this, several manufacturers informed me that this turned out to be a very good year for them. The phrase I kept hearing was, “the people who came, came to buy.”
New Orleans is the same as it ever was. Hot, humid, and chock full of places to overindulge in every way imaginable. I elected to stick with cigars, food, drink and music, and even that was biting off more than I could chew. (It took me a few days to recover once I returned home.) One of the highlights of my extracurricular activities has to be the evening spent following the live music from bar to bar on Frenchman Street with Frank Herrera (of La Caridad Del Cobre cigars), Skip Martin and Joe “Doc Fuego” Amos.
As was the case last year, the place to be at 4 o’clock was the Miami/La Aurora booth. Every day at that time they turned up the latin music, popped the tops on the Presidente bottles, and the crowd gathered. And a little later, after dinner, you could count on seeing many of the same people in the crowd at Don Leoncio on Canal Street. No matter what your plans were for the evening, the chances were always good you’d spend part of it at the unofficial cigar bar of IPCPR.
The New Cigars
It wasn’t long before I picked up on a theme at this year’s trade show. Many manufacturers were opting to extend existing lines instead of introducing completely new cigars. New sizes, often 54 ring gauge or larger, and alternate wrappers were the name of the game. (La Traviata Maduro, Illusione HL Claro and Maduro, and the Jesus Fuego 777 Zero to name a few.) And the manufacturers that were rolling out new sticks, generally weren’t as prolific as in previous years. Lower MSRP’s were also reoccurring theme.
Aside from the many beautiful women at the trade show, the big eye catcher was Gran Habano’s Corojo #5 “El Gigante”. It’s a real smokable cigar weighing in at 2,500 pounds, 19 feet in length and 1920 ring gauge. It’s something you just have to see. And you will have your chance, because it’s going on tour around the country before it’s fitted with it’s custom made smoking cap. (100 or more lucky people will smoke it simultaneously through hookah hoses.)
One of the more interesting cigar concepts I saw on the floor was Jesus Fuego’s Origen “soft pack”. Actually, I saw this the evening before the show when we bumped into Jesus at Don Leoncio. He told us he had something he wanted us to try and pulled a paper pouch out of his shirt pocket. Inside were small cheroot-like cigars. I immediately loved the packaging, and the cigars were great as well.
I haven’t tried it yet, but I love that Dion Giolito of Illusione is making a candela-wrapped Holy Lance (“HL Claro”). That was easily the biggest surprise of the show. If anybody can pull off a smokable candela, he’d be the guy I’d bet on.
Twitter Brother of the Leaf Cocktail Hour
The Twitter Brother of the Leaf Cocktail Hour (or #TBOTLCH as it is referred to on twitter) was an incredible success. Everyone I talked to about the event spoke glowingly of it, and began to speculate as to how big it will be next year. Some going as far as offing to help us pick a venue. So by all accounts, it was great herf, but more importantly, it achieve it’s other main objective. It got a large selection of new cigars into the hands of the people who will review and talk about them. A great big thanks to all our sponsors, and to Dos Jefes Uptown Cigar Bar for hosting us!
The Press Under Review
On the last day of the show, the future of press involvement with IPCPR was the topic of several discussions I had. It seems that someone, or some group attending on press passes this year was disruptive to the business taking place on the floor, leading to a serious internal debate on the part of IPCPR and it’s members. Some are urging for the elimination of press passes all together but others favor ideas like paid press memberships, or a more thorough screening and approval process. Whatever the outcome, we’re likely to see changes made to the process of getting a pass in the future.
A Public Day At IPCPR?
An idea that was floating around the floor, supported by several manufacturers, was a day where the show would be open to the public. (In fact, I was specifically asked to mention this idea.) Much like a Famous Cigar Expo, a CigarFest or a Big Smoke, the floor would be open to paid ticket holders who would be able to meet their favorite manufacturers, check out the incredible booths and smoke some great cigars. It’s an interesting idea, and it would be the king of all consumer cigar events, but it remains to be seen if it would work logistically.
Though the foot traffic was a little light, and the Twitter Brother of the Leaf Cocktail Hour had us scrambling to get our interviews in, it was still a great show for us. I’ll definitely miss New Orleans next year (Don Leoncio and Dos Jefes epsecially), but I’m really looking forward to Las Vegas. We’ll probably look back on this year and think about how laid back it all was. I just hope we’ll still be able to get press passes!