Written by Kevin Godbee

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

User Rating: / 1

clubs and organizationsspecial events
the big smoke

Cigar Aficionado's Big Smoke Las Vegas Weekend

Friday Night at the Las Vegas Big Smoke

Oftentimes, when I meet a new person and tell them what I do, I get the response, "Wow, I wish I had that job!" Well, if they knew about my last weekend, their envy would more than double.

Cigar Aficionado's Big Smoke Las Vegas Weekend was obviously about cigars, but it was more than that. It was truly a cigar lifestyle event including, in addition to cigars, fine drinks, gourmet food and not to be underestimated - the strong comaderie of cigar smokers worldwide. There were attendees from around the world, most of us meeting for the first time as if we were long lost brothers and sisters. Yes, most of the crowd was male, but there were some "SOTL" (sisters of the leaf) accompanying the "BOTL" (brothers of the leaf) as we often refer to ourselves on cigar forums. Everyone was immediately friendly with one another and eager to make new friends as we enjoyed the festivities.

The event was billed as "The Weekend for Cigar Lovers" ... an expanded format consisting of two "Big Smoke" evenings and exciting daytime seminars. It took place at one of my favorite places to stay in Vegas, The Venetian Resort, the luxury all-suite hotel.

Although I have been smoking cigars for over ten years and in the cigar media business for nearly four years, this was my first Big Smoke. Light up a smoke as we stroll back in time a few days to Friday evening, November 7, 2008.

We are walking through the casino in The Venetian ... you hear slot machines and all the bells and whistles of the gaming world as you stroll to the conference center area for the first night's festivities.

I am reminded of my youth going to rock concerts.

There are scalpers hawking tickets to the event ... they pass by you closely so you can here them in a whisper asking, "need tickets?" I laugh to myself as I musingly wonder if Gordon Mott will be featured on lead guitar with David Savona on lead vocals, while James Suckling pumps out a rhythmic bass line with Greg Mottola on drums. (Marvin Shanken was not in attendance.)

While that didn't happen, Friday night's event did have high-volume upbeat modern club music pumping throughout the hall.

If you chose to attend just an evening event, the tickets were $240. Or you could get the all-inclusive tickets for the entire weekend like we did, for $550.

All you hear on the news these days is doom and gloom, bad economy, blah, blah, blah ... but you couldn't evidence any of that based on the attendance of The Big Smoke, nor in the massive amounts of people in Las Vegas in general.

Big Smoke Crowds waiting for the doors to open The excitment builds as we wait to enter the Big Smoke
Crowds waiting for the doors to open

Inside the hall, attendees lined up, in sometimes quite long lines to take pictures and get autographs with various cigar makers such as Rocky Patel, Carlito Fuente, Jose Padron and more. These guys were like celebrities or rock stars of the cigar world.

We all received free cigars at every stop.

The selection included : an Alec Bradley Tempus, Arturo Fuente, Ashton, A. Turrent Six Generations, Aurora 1495, C.A.O. Mx2, Carlos Toraño, Cuvée Rouge, Defiance by Xikar, Diamond Crown, Don Tomás, El Rico Habano, Flavours by C.A.O., Fonseca, Hoyo de Monterrey, La Caya, La Flor Dominicana, La Gloria Cubana, Macanudo 1968, Nub, Oliva Serie G, Padrón, Rocky Patel, San Cristobal, Te-Amo World Selection, Winston Churchill and Zino Classic.

Here are some of the people and cigars I met throughout the night, along with pictures and their commentary.

Brad Weinfeld, Sales Manager of S.A.G. Imports

S.A.G. Imports - Fonseca and Casa Magna Cigars

"Hi, I’m Brad Weinfeld, Sales Manager of S.A.G. Imports which does Fonseca and Casa Magna cigars. We’re introducing tonight our new Casa Magna which is made in Nicaragua by Manuel Quesada and Nestor Placencia. It’s a Nicaraguan puro, medium-bodied, and it just got a 92 rating from Cigar Aficionado. We have our Fonseca Cubanos, which is more medium to full bodied, a lot of flavor, and it just got a 91 rating from Cigar Insider."

Because of some of the long lines, I decided to zig-zag around the conference room instead of moving from exhibit to exhibit in a straight line.

Next, we crossed over to the Fuente booth and spoke to Carlos "Carlito" Fuente Jr.



Arturo Fuente

Carlito's attention was in great demand, so his comments were brief, but warm. I asked him if he wanted to comment on any of his cigars, but he said; "Oh, I’m just so happy to be here in Vegas and just ... it's not about cigars. It’s about people. And there’s nothing in the world that brings people together like a cigar, and you can see all the smiling people here and everything. I’m just so proud to be part of this wonderful world. Thank you very much.

Continued ...


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