Written by Puff Staff

Sunday, 23 November 2008

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leisure and relaxationspecial events
the big smoke
Part Two of the Big Smoke Experience In this second article sharing my thoughts on the Big Smoke experience, I’ll focus on the experience the first night, the night I was able to attend the “trade show” portion of the event. As mentioned earlier, the Big Smoke was held at The Venetian in Las Vegas. Walking towards the exhibition center, you get the feel you are in for quite the show. There were ticket scalpers actually trying to scalp tickets for the evening’s festivities. Wow, I am impressed…there must be some kind of demand for this if you have folks scalping what are supposed to be hard to find passes. Well, we had ours, so around the corner and into the show we go…not. As we turned the corner, there must have been three hundred people in line…most in some degree of inebriation…not that that is a bad thing, I mean we are in Vegas. As I scanned the crown, the demographic of attendee was pretty straight forward. Most folks were middle aged men, some with a dedicated significant other following them into the show, but most with their compadres. As we waited to get in the show, we noticed some odd things. There were people in matching cow outfits…that’s right, cow outfits. Scottish kilts seemed to be popular as well, not sure why, but hey, who’s judging…perhaps they are cooler in the Vegas heat. When we did finally get out turn at the front of the line, we showed our badges, and were handed a coupon book of sorts. Inside the book was a coupon to be redeemed at each booth for a cigar from the manufacturer at that booth. One look around the exhibition center and things looked promising. There was food at one end, all the booths lined up throughout, and best of all, cigars to be smoked. Once the adrenaline kicked in, and I figured out what was going on, I was a bit disappointed. It seems I had stumbled into a trick or treating work out for adults. Run to each booth, hand them your ticket, hold open your Cigar Aficionado bag, and watch them drop in a cigar. I was hoping for the chance to chat with a few folks, people I had met throughout the industry, but no luck. There were lines for many of the booths, particularly Rocky Patel and the Padron booth. Of course the Fuente booth was packed as well. In the middle of the floor was a nice assortment of expensive wheeled toys. The new 2009 Harley vRod, a hybrid 2009 Cadillac Escalade…obviously designed for all those rap moguls and NBA players with a “green” side to their personality, a sweet looking Saturn Sky, an Audi, and a few other choice and expensive toys. Perhaps we should add “wealthy” to the middle aged demographic the show caters to. Not that that should be a surprise with how Cigar Aficionado has changed throughout the years. Interspersed amongst the cigar booths, was a nice change with some wine and single malt scotch booths. Since there were not a lot of lines at these, what the heck, and it’s where I started. Interestingly enough, but not surprising, the less popular cigar makers did not have long lines. So I hit the likes of Te-Amo, and La Aurora before braving the lines of the more popular players. Eventually though I did brave those lines, and got my share of the mad rush for “free” cigars. I took a little break to enjoy some of the food from some of the funkier Las Vegas eateries. I would love to tell you what I ate, but half the time I could not hear the people in the food booths, as they were situated by where the music was coming from. Obviously my palate needs help, as after 3 cigars, most of the food tasted the same…sort of like, well cigars. After about 2 hours of braving my way through the madhouse, the tally turned out like this: 2 wine samples, 3 scotch samples, 1 beer sample (Bud American Ale…no thanks), and a grand total of 26 cigars. The big prize came the next morning during the lectures. It was father/son themed, so Jorge and Orlando Padron, the Ozgeners, and the Torano’s took their turn speaking. The lectures were good, and what I believe the true theme should be, learning more about cigars. It’s also where I scored the best smokes, a 40th Anniversary Padron torpedo, and a Fuente Opus X Lancero. Now those two smokes will give me memories…as for the rest of the show…not so much

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