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Written by Puff Staff

Friday, 14 July 2006

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clubs and organizationsrtda 2006
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Coming late in the day July 18, 2006

Vibe…not the cigar, but the feel of the 2006 RTDA show.  There seems to be a vibe, or maybe a little swagger back with the industry.  Suffice it to say that if the world of premium cigars and accessories is facing stiff challenges with regulation, it’s not apparent by the smiling faces on the manufacturers at the show. 

Things are going well, sales are up or at capacity for most of the folks we spoke with today.  Some first day trends we noticed were the continued growth of flavored cigars, along with some new small folks marketing premium cigars.  Almost reminiscent of the early days of the past booms, there are some new smaller cigar companies showing up.  The difference this time around is folks seem to be focusing on creating the blend and farming out the manufacture of the cigars to those larger companies where it is a core competency.

Standard disclaimer applies...we smoked plenty of cigars.  We would love to give you some initial thoughts and reviews, but it's really not fair after smoking numerous cigars in a cigar nasty environment like air conditioned Las Vegas.  Things are so dry, you can practically see the cigar shrink as it gets exposed to the air.  Not necessarily the fairest environment to review in.  Some thoughts are there...more to come over the next weeks.

One more quick note:  We had some camera issues today, and were not able to bring you as many pictures as we would like.  Hopefully this is fixed and we will have some better cigar shots in the next report.

Graycliff is introducing something new...a smooth chocolaty taste on the palate that explodes with a nutty tobacco aftertaste.  This time though, it's not a cigar...it's a chocolate.  That's right, a tobacco infused chocolate.  Hard to describe this combination of tastes, but it's a knockout for those cigar lovers that also pride themselves chocolate aficionados.  Graycliff found a small winery/chocolatier in South Africa to belnd the Graycliff tobacco into both a dark and light chocolate offering.  While most cigar companies focus on flavored cigars, expect Graycliff to turn the table and experiment with tobacco flavored chocolates.

Tony Borhani of Bahia and Paul Shoberg of Top25Cigar

Bahia is back.  Spending some time with the exquisitely dressed Tony Borhani we learned about the new "Insignias Tony Borhani 10th Anniversary" cigar.  Using all ten year old tobaccos the Insignias line comes in 4 sizes, a 6 1/2 x 54 Gran Corona, 6 7/8 x 48 Presidente, 5 x 55 Gran Robusto and a 4 3/4 x 44 Lonsdale.  The Bahia de Costa Rica is a new Costa Rican puro with two blends and one shape.  The Alpha and Beta are 5 1/2 x 50 robustos with slightly different blends.

Humidipak, the humidity control device company out of Wayzata, Minnesota is popping up everywhere.  They are the humidification device behind the C.A.O. Vision humidor, and of course have their own humidity backsets under the name Boveda.  Expect much success here, as this is a product that just plain works...perfectly.

The "Mad Scientist" Luis Sanchez from La Tradicion Cubana has no new cigar lines (another trend we are seeing), but did open up a 20,000 square foot factory in the Dominican Republic.  Looks like the days of La Tradicion Cubana cigars being backordered are bound to come to an end.  Luis is making Palmas Puros for Greg Maya.  Palmas Puros is soon to become available in the U.S. market.

Tabacalera Perdomo has the usual gregarious characters in their booth, including Billy Perdomo, and the head man Nick Perdomo.  The Perdomo Fresco cigar will be showing up in bundles (another trend...seems like a lot of companies are coming out with bundles).  Perdomo is also announcing their new "Limited Golf Edition" to their Perdomo Reserve line.  8 sizes to the golf line which features a Dark Connecticut wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and filler.  Also new is the "Lot 23" cigars.  All the filler and binder in the Lot 23 line come from a single farm lot in Nicaragua.  The wrapper is Dark Connecticut.

Bucanero owner, Bob Spoden, has always tried to give cigar smokers a good value with his premium cigar line. Now he's attempting to give them an even better value by offering long filler bundles named Bundelo and Caribbean Rose. This line is a follow up to the Zia and La Noche mixed filler (sandwich) bundle cigars he released earlier this year.

We smoked a Caribbean Rose Churchill and thought is was a pretty decent smoke, bundle cigar or not. We also smoked Bucanero's Costa Rican puro named Treasure. We liked it a lot and will likely review it later.

CAO Sopranos "Tony Soprano" Humidor

The CAO booth was busier than Bada Bing's on a Friday night as marketing maven, Jon Huber showed us the new items. The biggest bling went to the CAO Vision which comes in robusto, toro, and torpedo shapes packed in a Halliburton-esque humidor. The Vision is nearly a puro featuring a Dominican corojo wrapper and binder and Dominican, Nicaraguan, and Brazillian filler tobaccos.

For World Cup fans, CAO offers a collectors edition humidor featuring both Italia vs Brazilia cigars competing for space. And for Sopranos fans, the new edition to the CAO Soprano line is, what else, the Tony Soprano. The Tony Soprano sized mega toro is being released as a limited edition humidor that comes complete with the Season 6 DVD.

The death of La Luna has been highly exaggerated!  It was quite the surprise to see Gael de Courtivron back in action this year.  Gael has teamed up with CSB Cigars.  CSB will be distributing La Luna while Gael focuses on the manufacture and blending.  CSB has their own premium cigar called the "Ego" that they are releasing as well.

Mike Cusano loves cigars and apparently many consumers share his taste preferences. Over the last 10 years, Cusano Cigars has averaged 40% growth per year by giving consumers high quality cigars for reasonable prices. New for the show was a sampler pack but no new blends. The Cusano 18 and Corojo continue to be the company's mainstay.

We spoke to La Aurora president Jose Blanco about his newest cigar, the Leon Jimenes 300 which will be offered as a limited edition robusto of only 1000 boxes. The robusto has Cameroon wrapper and Dominican binder and filler. We smoked one and, dare we say it, the 300 reminded us of the vaunted Fuente Don Carlos line.

La Gloria Cubana Gigante

We attended General Cigars reception last night and were treated like officers by Victoria McKee, Public Relations Director for the company. At the show, Victoria showed us the newest products offered by the General.

The Partagas 160 is the big news, made in 5 shapes with the same 1977 Cameroon wrapper as the Partagas 150. There will be 5000 boxes of each size made. Partagas is also releasing a seasonal production run of the new Cifuentes Winter Blend which will be a Dominican puro. Another new release with all new packaging is the Macanudo Vintage 2000 made of, what else, tobacco harvested in 2000. Also new is the Cohiba Black which comes in 4 shapes and has a new blend which includes a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.

La Gloria Cubana has a new Limitada Humidor featuring a 7 ¾ inch gigante shape in either maduro and natural wrappers. Only 700 humidors of each wrapper will be made. La Gloria has also added a maduro wrapper to the entire Reserve Figurado line and adjusted the blend slightly to compliment the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. Fans of the Serie R line will now be able to smoke a torpedo for the first time. Look for future interviews with Ernesto Carillo, Daniel Nunez, and Benji Menendez.




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