RTDA Diary - Monday, August 6, 2007
I walked the entire show from aisle 100 through 2600. All the usual suspects were decked out and ready to show their wares: CAO, Atladis, Perdomo, Fuente, Oliva, SAG, Camacho, Rocky Patel, Davidoff, and General Cigar, as far as the "extra-large" booths go. Every year General cigar gives away a car. This year it's a red corvette.
Speaking of booths, Drew Estate has done it again in creating one of the most attractive and interesting booths at the show. They’re one of the few companies who do a different theme each year. This year the theme was Coney Island. You’ll have to see the pictures to see what I’m talking about, but the other nice thing about the Drew Estate Booth this year is how roomy it is. Handmade wooden picnic tables and benches were made just for the show. Each bench also has the name of one of their brands carved into it, like ACID, Java, Natural, etc. Very cool. One of the newest additions is a limited edition cigar, the Liga Privada No.9. I gave this good-looking, dark cigar a try. It starts out quite spicy then rounds out to a more medium-bodied smoke with a strong woody flavor. I'm still partial to the Chateau Real from last year, but we'll see how the Privada No. 9 works out.
Alec Bradley has also shown growth in their booth. Last year, you could barely fit a couple of people at their espresso bar. This year it looks more like a full-blown café, and they've got much more real estate as well. They’re also introducing MAXX “The Vice” an attractive, 6 ½" x 62 box-pressed cigar, and the Nano, the smallest frontmark in the line at 4" x 46. As a huge fan of the MAXX line, I intend to give the Vice a test drive as soon as possible, and will report on it then.
In the La Aurora booth, they were featuring their new Barrel Aged cigar. It has a nice dark wrapper, and looks like it might pack somewhat of a kick. More on that one once I've had a chance to smoke it, too.
As always, there were plenty of accessories, including various new-fangled lighters. Zippo is debuting a way overdue torch lighter called Zippo Blu, and I'm looking forward to finding out more about it later today.
Last night we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Jose, Gilberto Jr., and Carlos Oliva, where I learned a lot from Gilberto about how they select the tobaccos for their cigars. I don't have time to get into it here, but I can say that they have some of the highest quality standards in the industry. It's no wonder their cigars are so consistent.
Afterwards, we repaired to the lobby to smoke the new Oliva V. This is one helluva cigar. It's well-packed, draws perfectly, and the wrapper is seamless and oily with a dark-reddish patina. It has kick, but in the Oliva tradition, it's not overpowering. I smoked mine without anything to drink, too, and it was fine. The smoke is very rich, earthy and full-flavored. Moreover, the ash burns razor sharp and is incredibly firm. My sample held on for about an inch-and-a-half. Hal's took the record at well over two inches, and Jeff Brown, our retail store manager took a shot of it for proof. I think this is going to be a very positive addition to the Oliva Cigar Family line, and will be embraced by the full-bodied smokers. Jeff tells me that we are already in the process of scheduling an in-store tasting event for Oliva V. More on that as it develops.
The evening ended at the General Cigar party at The Warehouse. On the way out, all of the guests were given a fully-loaded gift bag which included the new Stradivarius cigar presented in a cedar coffin. There's been some brew-ha-ha about this luxury-priced cigar, so I'll give it a smoke and taste for myself, but it could be a "wait-and-see" as to how many retailers will respond to it.