Now that I’m somewhat rested, it’s time we talk about this year’s RTDA.
As you may have already heard, this is the last RTDA ever. Yep, no more RTDA. But before you drop your cigar in your lap and catch your naughty bits on fire, that doesn’t mean these conventions are coming to an end. What it means is that the organization is changing it’s name to IPCPR (International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers). The point of this verbose new name, as noted by Cigar Aficionado’s David Savona “gets rid of the words “tobacco” and “dealer”“. The idea was to pick a name that more accurately reflects the members of the organization. “Big Tobacco” is not a part of this group, it’s primarily comprised of makers and retailers of premium, hand-made cigars and pipe tobacco.
A number of new cigars were introduced at this year’s RTDA. The one I was most looking forward to was the CAO America. I had a chance to smoke one of these beauties on the second day of the convention, and I really enjoyed it. I’ll save a full analysis for an upcoming review (I have a few extra to smoke), but I can say two things I noticed about it. The first thing is that it burns nicely. Many had expressed concern that the different leaves might cause burn issues, but I’m happy to report that they burned perfectly together. The other thing I noticed is that the America didn’t seem to be a full bodied as reported on the CAO website. However, I must admit that and my palate had a nice even burn by the time I got to this cigar (I lost count of cigars smoked), so I say this tentatively.
Oliva Serie V Lancero
I think the cat is out of the bag on the new Oliva Serie V size. It’s called the Lancero, and my local Oliva rep hooked me up with one from his very small supply. I don’t have the exact measurements now, but it looks a lot like a pencil and is likely a 7 x 40. I’ve very interested to see how the size impacts the smoking experience, and will write it up when I get to it.
Great First Impressions
At a small La Flor Dominicana party in the hazy presidental suite of the nearby Hilton Sunday night, I had the opportunity to try out the un-banded Cameroon Cabinet. Even though it was probably the last of five or six cigars smoked that day, I found the cigar to be surprisingly flavorful and simply delicious. And with the textured, even burn that was my mouth by that evening, that’s really saying something. My LDF rep generously allowed me to take a couple with me, so you can expect a full review on this cigar in the somewhat near future.
Craig at the Cigarmony booth hooked me up with another gem of a cigar: the Gran Habano Corojo #5 Churchill. As with the LFD Cameroon, this cigar broke through the char-barrier on my palate and impressed me with a great spicy flavor and long ashes. After that tasty smoke I made a bee-line for the Gran Habanos booth to beg for a few more. (That is once I figured out which booth was theirs.) And yes, you guessed it, I plan to review this cigar too.
Other Notable Cigars
While I wasn’t able to get my hands on the Ashton’s new San Cristobal, I did luck out with a giant Gurkha Black Dragon (I literally bumped into one that had been dropped!) and General Cigar’s new $40 high-roller the “Stradivarius”. I haven’t decided what I want to do with these guys, though I’m sure once I get around to smoking them, I will definitely write up my impressions.
All told, I came away with a generous, but yet untallied number of cigars from RTDA. I mean no disrespect to any cigars I haven’t mentioned, I simply haven’t gotten them all organized yet. (I was just happy to find them all a space in a humidor!)
My favorite story from RTDA is the one I was telling. On the first day as we were making the rounds, my wife kept grabbing the camera and getting up close and personal with the big names of the cigar houses for a picture. (If you met my wife at the RTDA, you know that one thing she isn’t is shy.) I definitely have her to thank for many of the great pictures I put up in the previous post.
It’s interesting how people react to my brash wife and the little bright red camera. Rocky Patel stopped mid-sentence and posed. The guy Tim Ozgener was talking to gave him a big, sloppy kiss on the cheek. (Priceless picture!) But my favorite reaction was that of Carlos Toraño. He smiled for the camera and then told her “that’s pretty camera you have, but what’s behind it is far more beautiful.” Yep, that’s right, Mr. Toraño hit on my wife.
And then there’s Avo at the General Cigar party. Blue Havana II and I were loitering behind a stairway railing, tucked away from continuous flow of people and who comes walking up but Avo Uvezian! He stops on the other other side of the railing to have a look around. Immediately people descend on him to shake his hand and get a picture. I moved back a little to give him some space, and before I knew it, he was standing on my side of the railing. And then he was standing where I had been and I was out in the main channel. Moments later both Blue Havana and I had been displaced. He turned our little alcove into Avo meet-and-greet central. And neither of us know how he did it. I’m thinking it was cigar magic.
To begin with, I want to thank Jon and Jeff “Jerry Curl” at CAO. These guys are the reason I was able to attend. And the Escape With CAO event was awesome! You guys rock!
And thanks also to the ladies we met from 310 Pipe and Tobacco Shop. They very kindly set me up with their tickets to the General Cigar event.
Another thank you goes to Nathan the local Oliva rep. He hooked me up with the Serie V Lancero from his small allotment of the newest size of a very new cigar.
Also, a big thanks to Mark Neff and Craig from Cigarmony for the pucks (I needed ’em!) and the cigars. Seriously folks, if you aren’t using the puck-ifier in your humidor, you’re working too hard, and just wasting time.
Thanks to Jim “Blue Havana II” Luftman [UPDATE: Link Updated!] for sneaking me into the La Flor Dominicana party. Not only did I get to smoke a great cigar, but I got a better understanding of the cigar business from the retail point of view. I’m not gonna tell anybody to completely quit buying cigars at the various deeply-discounted sites online, but if you want to keep the great B&M’s around in your area, don’t forget to give them your business too! Your couple of cigars a week, or box a month, or whatever will help ensure you always have a cigar-friendly place to go to relax and socialize.
I know I’m forgetting somebody. If you think I owe you a thanks, consider yourself thanked!