The IPCPR 2016 trade show is over and I wanted to do a write-up on my thoughts from the show.
This being my second IPCPR trade show, I went into it knowing it would be nothing like last year. Last year I was merely a contributor for Blind Man’s Puff, holding a minor role. I equate it to being a freshmen in college or a first year entry level career job. Meaning, I am there mainly to absorb everything like a sponge. This year, being a partner for Developing Palates (and having a much bigger role), I anxiously and enthusiastically awaited to hit Las Vegas. I was anxious and excited to see how we would be perceived. I wanted to finally see with my own eyes all the new cigars I’ve been reading about on a daily basis (and at times hourly basis) especially in light of the recent FDA regulations (or lack thereof). I even bought a new pair of shoes thinking I would be more comfortable walking around the show (but I was an absolute idiot for doing so). I packed my bags days in advance and then the night of July 24 finally came and we were on our way to Vegas!
The trade show floor: The trade show floor thankfully was not as spread out as New Orleans. The Las Vegas show floor was a more efficient use of space. The booths were laid out in a more organized fashion. I didn’t have to walk what seemed a mile from one side of the floor to the other like in New Orleans. Many booths still had the same vibe such as Drew Estate with its over the top bridge and blasting of good old school hip hop and Perdomo with its same layout that appeared quite corporate. There were also some noticeable differences from last year such as General Cigar Company not having a booth within a booth. Instead, most of the booth was tables and chairs utilized to conduct business, which in my opinion is a smart strategic play. But don’t get me wrong, General Cigar per usual does a fantastic job of showcasing their products. There was also some cigar companies split off from their previous years booth. Such as Cubariqueno (last year being in the same booth as La Zona) and Illusione (Casa Fernandez booth last year). These were all good signs as it’s a reflection of business growing. Still some same questions from last year made me scratch my head in confusion. Questions such as why there were a couple of big booths selling hookah tobacco (who cares). All in all, I am glad the trade show will be in Las Vegas for the next two years.
The general vibes: In terms of attendance, it appeared there was definitely a large improvement over last year. This may be due to the environment of Las Vegas, providing the hub and ease of trade show floors and the convenience of having everything centrally located, especially for pre and post show activities. In terms of business, vast majority of the cigar companies we talked to had positive things to say for sales. Some things we heard was sales increased over last year’s show. Also, some boutique cigar companies commenting sales picking up since day 1 of the show (day 1 is typically a day in which retailers buy from the bigger companies (General Cigar, Altadis USA, etc) to take advantage of limited releases and deals. The trade show floor felt a bit like a cigar community of brothers and sisters of the leaf, where there was genuine laughter whilst conducting sales. Very positively unique.
Highlights: Highlights in the form of cigars I saw consisted of the following (here comes a big list): Cavalier Geneve (full flavored, medium strength initially catering to the European market. The feel is very luxurious especially with the gold leaf on the cigar). Pier 28 out of La Zona by Tim Wong (smoked the Habano at the show and it was very tasty). Dim Mak of Moya Ruiz / Cigar Dojo (Strong and rich. Hoping for similar results as The Rake and Chinese Finger Trap). Matilde Quadrata, the third line in the Company’s portfolio. Drew Estate Herrera Esteli Miami (because Willy always knocks it out of the park with his Limited Editions). Sacra Folium (retailers for 20 some years and now making their own cigars using Aganorsa and Raices Cubana tobacco). JRE Tobacco Aladino (return of the old Camacho corojo). Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust Sobremesa Short Churchill (stronger and more dank). Cordoba & Morales Finca Santa Fe (a spicy Criollo 98 wrapper aged in part in rum barrels). Fratello Oro (love the way Omar blends having full flavors without knocking you over with strength). Cornelius and Anthony Venganza (Hector Alfonso blended and have heard rave reviews). Xikar XO (because I love new cigar accessories and it’s the biggest release since the Xi series). Casa Fernandez, Illusione and Warped using Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrappers. Illusione (all of it from the new 10th anniversary Haut 10 to making ECCJ and some of the Singulares regular production). HVC La Rosa 520 and San Isidro (love Reinier’s blending style in using Aganorsa tobacco). Serino with their 5 year aged tobaccos. Byron Serie Siglo XXI Elegantes (ultra premium cigar without much blend information disclosed). Crux IPCPR show exclusive (because I got one and you didn’t. Just kidding). Foundation Tabernacle (supposedly tasting like the original Drew Estate Liga 9). HR White and Blue labels backed by the Cuban cigar expert Hirochi Robaina. General Cigar’s ultra premium Cohiba Macassar. AJ Fernandez Bella Artes (few have said one of the highlights of the show). Protocol Lancero (smoked one at the show on an unclean palate and it was still very good. Looking forward to smoking one on a clean palate).
Highlights that’s not specific to cigars seen consisted of the following (here comes a shorter list): Meeting and chatting with Hector Alfonso (“Mr. Warmth”) of La Zona for an hour at the show about anything and everything. Bumming on the couches of Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust while hanging out with Coop, Stace Berkland and Steve, Cindy and Jon Saka while enjoying Mi Queridas and Sobremesa Short Churchills. Bumming (again) on the couches of Cubariqueno while Juan and Bill generously gives us a pour of the luxurious Zacapa XO and smoking Probable Causes and Protocols. Hanging out with the Dojo crew and realizing how much of a hard on Eric has for Mexican corn on the cob made by real Mexicans. Chatting and sharing some drinks with Dion of Illusione at Atomic Liquors. Davidoff cigar media presentation and after parties.
There are honestly way too many highlights to list and kudos to you for reading through the entire listing. The entire show experience was a highlight!
I’m thankful and humbled to come away from the show making so many contacts and friends. It blew away my expectations to say the least. The only thing I wish I had was more time. Having four days to cover the show with just Aaron and I is not enough time at all. Although I am very thankful for all the people I met, I am also a bit sad about the people I didn’t get to meet and wanted to. But there is always next year and goals to project and achieve. Thank you all for taking the time to read my post. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.
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