The industry has just descended on Las Vegas for the 81st annual IPCPR cigar tradeshow and I’m excited to now present you with my favorite items released this year. While new and interesting things come out year-round, the IPCPR cigar tradeshow is the true proving grounds for brands big and small. I’m sure you now have a mental image of cigars scattered across booths with extravagant displays and samples galore … and you’re right! It’s a four-day herfing marathon with the occasional break for some food or perhaps a glass of whiskey.
The show had a familiar feel this year. A few new smaller distributors were scattered about, trying to attract buyers from tobacconists visiting from around the world, while the old familiar favorites were busy keeping up with near constant flow of retailers trying to get a peek at their newest releases. Drew Estate, in particular, was a zoo with guys packed in shoulder-to-shoulder waiting to shake Jonathan Drew’s hand and score a coveted Liga Privada. While the show was familiar, the releases this year were anything but typical. It was clear every vendor was trying to step up their game to deliver a better product than the year before while also trying to outdo each other. For me, it was the seasoned veterans who stole the show such as Alec Bradley, AJ Fernandez, Drew Estate and Oliva, most with a limited edition, premium offering that caught my eye.
Alec Bradley Mundial: One of the first blends I burned at the show, it had all the right components to take it for a test drive, given it hails from the Raices Cubanas factory and sports one of my favorite small batch wrappers from the Trojes region of Honduras. I loved the shape, which is decidedly different from most anything I‘ve seen before. The foot resembled a perfecto but the body was more of a parejo. The cigar delivered big time! In Spanish, Mundial means “worldly,” but I would call it “out of this world.” The blend was easily full-bodied with lots of complexity stemming from fillers grown on four separate farms. While it will ship throughout the year, Alan Rubin did mention Mundial will arrive in batches, meaning this is a “get it while you can” type of product. It will not be available on a day-to-day basis.
Oliva Serie ’V’ Melanio Maduro: Melanio, which debuted at last year’s tradeshow, was without a doubt one of 2012’s best new releases. In fact, it was awarded “Cigar of the Year” by Cigar Snob Magazine and was the top seller at Cigar.com (when we were fortunate enough to have them in stock). This year, Oliva expanded the line with a maduro version, but made it only available in one size; a torpedo. The San Andres maduro wrapper on Melanio Maduro is flawless and lends to a bittersweet flavor and aroma that balances a medium to full-bodied blend of well-aged long fillers. Fans of Padrón Anniversary may soon be jumping ship and migrating to this blend which, in this author’s mind, is not only superior, but much more affordable. Like the rest of the Melanio line, Melanio Maduro will be limited in production and while Oliva wouldn’t elaborate on how many they plan on making each year, it was clear it will be one cigar to look out for and scoop up when you can.
AJ Fernandez Mayimbe: There was a ton of action going on at the AJ Fernandez booth, as I expected. The award winning San Lotano Oval saw a new Connecticut added to the lineup while the famed Pinolero received a maduro complement to its portfolio. Although I thought both blends were quite delicious, I found the real prize was the new, limited edition Mayimbe (Spanish slang for chief). As first glance, the boxes were stunning, the bands were more than eye catching, and the cigar burned like a dream. As usual, AJ was tight lipped regarding the blend, only grinning while stating that the wrapper was cultivated at one of his most prized farms. Mayimbe offers incredibly strong, rich flavors with that unique, signature Cuban flavor AJ is known.
Drew Estate MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured: I wasn’t fully aware of this blend before the show, but it became one of my only top picks that won’t actually be limited in production. Referred to playfully by the guys at Drew Estate as “KFC,” crediting its Kentucky Fire Cured filler, this cigar is a new innovation in cigar blending. Kentucky Fire Cured tobacco is most closely associated with pipe tobacco. It is quite strong and offers a unique, smoky flavor stemming from the hickory wood that is burned in the barns while the tobacco is cured. While it certainly has body, I was most impressed with the presentation of the flavor and the blend’s balance; smoky, sweet, and spicy.
You can look forward to our upcoming catalogs where we’ll be showcasing these favorites along with some others we fell in love with at the show. As always, we look forward to being your one stop shop for all things cigars in addition to providing you with the newest and most exciting products.