Grand Daddy Cigar Show Starts Today in Vegas!

My last IPCPR Show in 2008 was in the very same place as this year’s, in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Venetian Hotel and Casino. While I didn’t get to make the trip this year, I have nothing but great  memories of that show.

ipcprFirst off, The Venetian is like the size of a small city. I remember it taking me a good 15 – 20 minutes to walk from my room to the show floor – all in the same hotel! It’s a spectacular place, done in classic, all-out, in your face, over the top, Vegas style. But I can tell you that there’s nothing quite like the site of 3,000 cigar smokers descending upon one place, having the entire hotel smell like finely aged smoldering leaf! I remember the Sunday night kick-off party for the attending retailers was supposed to be poolside, but a rare, heavy rainstorm sent the party inside as 1,000 or so stogie puffing maniacs spilled out from the ball rooms, into the hallways, as it was so smokey, you swore you were walking through the streets of London. Non-smoking guests who had to pass through the halls were holding their noses with shirts pulled up over their faces as hotel security and the fire marshalls were fit to be tied. They were clearly not prepared for this onslaught of us Brothers of the Leaf.

FontanaThe most memorable thing I can say about this gathering was that the camaraderie was truly like nothing I had ever seen before. Cigar makers and retailers were there to support an industry that is facing a lot of set-backs, but nothing, I mean NOTHING was going to stop this event from being anything short of huge success. The store owners are there to see what new products the manufacturers are debuting, while purchasing products from the sales reps. And the reps are busy writing up orders while strengthening the relationships with their customers. Like I said, it’s camaraderie like I had never really seen before in all my life.

The big thrill for the shop owners is getting to meet the cigar makers and the master blenders. They line up, some thirty yards deep to personally speak with the likes of the Fuentes, Steve Saka, the Garcias, Lito Gomez, Nick Perdomo, the boys from Alec Bradley, Rocky, Nestor Miranda, and Placencia. Lucky for me, the good people at Camacho let me infest their leather seated pad, and I got to spend several days with my friends Dylan Austin and Christain Eiroa. And the best part was three straight nights of Camacho’s private after party, in a bar filled with cold drinks, hot women, and a couple hundred Neanderthals smelling like they just came from a Honduran barn fire.

the-venetian-hotel-las-vegasThree people I remember the most from that trip are men who touched this industry like no others. First is Daniel Nunez, then president and CEO of General cigar, a man who treated me like the most important guest in the world when I visited his facilities in the DR and Honduras only a couple months prior. Everything about that man is total class and I’ll always remember our long talks about baseball and our favorite New York Mets. The other two are beloved gentlemen who passed away within the last year – the great cigar making legend, Frank Llaneza, and Camacho’s one and only, Sal Fontanna. Frank was telling me about his new cigar that he was so excited about, which unknown to me at the time was his 1961 namesake. And then there were the three days listening to Sal Fontana’s stories that had everyone laughing until we couldn’t breathe. Lew Rothman was very close to both of these good men and I’m sure I speak for Lew when I say that they are both so terribly missed.

So today the show begins in the desert – many a new smoke will be debuted to the cigar loving world, and I can’t wait to see what the manufacturers introduce! I may be there only on spirit, but I will smoke till my brain implodes in honor of our most awesome and leafy industry!

Smoke ‘Em Cuz ya Gottem,


Tommy Z . JR Cigars Blog With the Zman

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