Meeting your makers

This weekend marks the start of the year's friendliest herf: Famous Smoke Shop's Cigar Expo 2009. Dozens of the world's foremost cigar manufacturers will be there to hand out their finest offerings as over 450 cigar smokers converge at the leading online cigar retailer's Easton, PA headquarters. Food, fun, a little fantasy, and plenty of thick blue cigar smoke will ensue during the course of the 12-hour event.

There's also something to be said for getting to meet the cigar manufacturers in-person. It puts a face to many of the cigars we know and love, giving us an added sense of appreciation for them, too.

Speaking for myself, when manufacturer execs come to our offices for a meeting, or when their sales reps host an in-store event, I always gain a little more admiration for their company.

Every premium handmade cigar is unique in its own way, and from what I've seen over the years, they're all made with love. There's no better way to understand this than by talking to the makers, almost all of whom are of Cuban descent and have skillfully carried on the traditions handed down to them through previous generations, among which include their own unique blending secrets.

Let's face it, ardent cigar smokers are also big fans. In a lot of cases, just being handed a cigar by Rocky Patel, Nick Perdomo, Jonathan Drew, Pepin Garcia, Avo Uvezian, Jose Blanco, or Jorge Padron - to list of some of the big cats - is enough to enjoy their cigars all that much more, not to mention getting to converse with them, too. And let's not forget about the boutique cigar makers, like Pete Johnson (Tatuaje), Espinosa/Ortega (601, Cubao, Mi Barrio), Alec Bradley (Tempus, Maxx), Cusano (Cuvee), Jesus Fuego, Pinar Del Rio, and the like, who may have an even more dedicated fan base. In both cases, I've even seen cigar smokers ask for their autographs!

But all that's cool. Because after all, as cigar smokers we're a very special group of individuals, and we couldn't have this wonderful sense of community if it weren't for the cigar makers. So even if you're not attending the Famous Cigar Expo this weekend, the next time you have the chance, get out there and meet your maker.

~ Gary Korb


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