Written by Puff Staff

Monday, 30 August 2004

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rtda 2004special events
Part one of Top 25 Cigar's full report on the 2004 RTDA show in Las Vegas.

Top25Cigar returned to the RTDA for the third consecutive year.  The show was held at the Sands Expo Center which is connected to the Venetian Hotel.  The main feature of the convention is the 200,000 square feet of exhibit space filled with 285 exhibitors filing 1,155 booths.  Cigar personalities abound on every aisle in addition to all the brands you know.  Many of the companies use the RTDA to kick off new products or offer special promotions. 

Our mission, as in the past, was to report from a viewpoint that reflects the interests and needs of the cigar smoking public.  We don’t pretend to be experts in the cigar trade, we just enjoy and appreciate good cigars and want to tell you about the companies that produce them.

The RTDA was smart to bring the trade show back to Las Vegas, which is probably the most cigar friendly city in the U.S.A.   As cities and states steadily implement smoking bans, Las Vegas is a breath of fresh air for cigar smokers.  In addition to a smoker friendly environment, it’s a no brainer for small business owners to combine business and pleasure in a city that offers so much.  Also, the cancellation of COMDEX has given Las Vegas plenty of room for additional conventions.  All this added up to higher attendance, energy levels, and sales at the show. 

Due to time constraints, we spent almost all our time with premium cigar vendors.  Most said that their sales were up for the show and the year.  This tells us that despite lackluster economic conditions, the premium cigar business is doing well.

Many of the small and medium cigar makers continued a trend we saw last year, the release of vintage tobacco and limited edition cigar lines.  Almost all the cigars we sampled had above average quality at prices that are considerably lower than the boom years. 

Our schedule at the show was dictated mostly by how busy the vendor was with his customers.  We’d like to thank all the companies who spent time with us since we don’t represent any additional revenue to them.  Most of the people we talked to knew about and were genuinely interested in reviews posted by “Joe cigar smoker”..… that’s you!  As always, we were on the lookout for potential candidates to interview.  We came away from the show with 8 or 10 prospects.

So without further ado… on with the show!

La Tradicion Cubana

Our first stop of the show was to see our friends at La Tradicion Cubana.  La Tradicion owner Luis Sanchez is a proud man.  He’s proud of the Cuban style cigars he’s made for the past 10 years.  And proud of the Deluxe Anniversary Series cigar he’s made to commemorate a decade of cigar making.

The Deluxe Anniversary comes in four shapes: Churchill, corona, robusto, and torpedo.  Vintage tobacco from 1996 is used to make the Nicaraguan-Dominican filler blend.  The binder is Honduran and the wrapper is Ecuadorian grown Colorado.  The cigar is a shade more robust than La Tradicion’s regular line and has a new taste.

We smoked the Churchill which had a good draw and construction.  As Luis had said, the new blend was more full bodied and complex than the regular line.  A good everyday smoke at a reasonable price.

La Tradicion Cubana, Inc.
1894 S.W. 8th Street
Miami, FL 33135
Ph 877 643-CGAR (2427)
Email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  
Luis and Lourdes Sanchez 

Tabacalera Perdomo

The Perdomo booth is always a beehive of activity, yet the mood was tempered by the passing of Nick Perdomo Sr.  Customers and industry insiders alike paid their condolences to the family before conducting business. 

New products included a new shape for the Edicion de Silvio line called the Salamone Incedro reflecting the cigar’s shape and cedar sleeve.  Production will be limited. 

Next is a new line called Champagne which will be a seasonal release and comes in the same shapes as the Perdomo Reserve line.  Like the Tribute line (Torano) and the Liberty line (Camacho), the Champagne will be produced from year to year with different blends.  Champagne is a beautiful cigar with a light Connecticut shade wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and binder.

Also new is Campay, a new value line of long filler cigars for those price conscious smokers.  Marketing manager Al Argenti says the Campay line should retail in the $4-$5 range.  

Lastly, Perdomo is hoping for a monster hit with a line of flavored cigars using ads featuring Godzilla, the grand daddy of all monsters.  The flavored line will be distributed through Perdomo subsidiary PA Tobacco Trading. 

Al Argenti introduced us to Gonzalo Puentes, General Manager for Perdomo’s tobacco production. Puentes is a veteran tobacco grower and formerly worked in Cuba for Habanos SA.  Puentes presence signals Perdomo’s continued commitment to controlling all aspects of cigar production, including tobacco production.  We were impressed not only with Perdomo’s new products, but the direction of the company as well.

Tabacalera Perdomo
5150 N.W. 167th Street
Miami Lakes, FL  33014
Ph  888 642-5797
Email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Graycliff Cigar Co.

Expect the unexpected when you visit the Graycliff Cigar Co.  It’s kind of like going into the twilight zone because you never know where owner Enrico Garzaroli is going to take you.   As always, Enrico didn’t disappoint.

The Bahamas based entrepreneur told us about three new developments.  The first was the addition of the Taco size (4.5 X 44) to the super premium Crystal line (gold band).  The Taco features an Ecuadorian sun grown wrapper and a blend of Nicaraguan,  Dominican, and Brazilian tobaccos with a leaf of Grecian for spice.

We named the Crystal as the best new cigar of the 2003 RTDA.  The Robb Report agreed and named the Crystal one of the “Best of the Best” for 2003.  The Crystal Pirate is also on the Top25Cigar “Top 25” list.

The second item was new packaging for Graycliff’s super premium, super strong Espresso line, a contender for anyone considering Padron’s Serie 1926.  Enrico winked and pulled the new boxes out of a bag.  We were stunned.  Crocodile skin boxes with snake skin trim!!!  You have to see them to believe it.  They could have passed for designer label bags at the Bellagio.

Graycliff impresses us because they always do what they say they are going to do.  They set out to make world class cigars when the cigar boom ended.  They did it.  They wanted to make one of the strongest cigars on the planet without the harshness that plagues other cigar makers.  They did it.  They wanted to produce head turning packaging for their cigars.  They did it. 

All of which brings us to their third piece of news.  Enrico introduced us to John Vogel who formerly worked in tobacco R & D at Consolidated Cigar.  This man knows his tobacco.  Together they have started a farm to produce world class cigar tobacco.  This signals Graycliff’s move towards controlling their tobacco quality through vertical integration.  Never one to just talk, Enrico had samples of the new tobacco at the show and Avelito Lara (Avelino Lara’s son) rolled us a couple of cigars with the new tobacco.  Graycliff is still on the move.

Not to be left out, Sharon Garzaroli introduced a new line of what else…… Crocodile skin purses.  The perfect gift for the wife of anyone purchasing a box of Espresso cigars!

Graycliff Cigar Co.
West Hill Street
P.O. Box N10246
Nassau, The Bahamas
Ph  242 328-7050

Drew Estates

Drew Estates is another cigar maker that marches to the beat of their own drum.  Jonathan Drew continues to create unique blends of flavor infused tobaccos that have a cult like following.  He had two new cigars for release at the show.  The first is “Ming”, a spicy extension meant to add some zip to the popular Acid line.

The big news was Sauza, a cigar infused with tequila of the same name.  The Sauza was blended to be smoked while enjoying tequila.  We had our doubts, but took the plunge and smoked one on the spot.  The cigar was enjoyable if you keep in mind it’s intended purpose.  Perhaps not an everyday cigar, but worth trying.  We’ll have to wait to try one while sipping tequila.

CAO "Decadence in the Desert" Party

It's important for us to focus purely on the show when we attend.  No screwing around, all business, cigars cigars cigars.  We're not the type to fall for the marketing hype, and go club hopping and partying, no way.  Our responsibility to our readers though does force us to attend some of the "evening functions".  Our first was the CAO Decadence in the Desert party.  CAO was celebrating the release of their Italia line of cigars. 

That's really all we remember, but we stress, it was all business.


Part Two Coming soon!


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