Anticipation was in the air Saturday morning as hundreds lined up outside Mirage’s Event Center for the Big Smoke Las Vegas seminars. Upon entering, guests received a Boveda bag containing a collection of excellent cigars, including the three best cigars of 2020. To add to the smoking experience, they also received an Oliva Serie O Toro, given as a complement to a continental breakfast provided by the company. The excitement was to be expected considering it had been two years since anyone had been able to enjoy a Big Smoke weekend.
“It really feels good to be all together again, I’m glad you’re here smoking cigars with us,” cigar lover said editor David Savona as he addressed the crowd during his welcome speech.
The view from the stage for the seminars, with nearly 600 cigar lovers in the room.
He then introduced star cigar maker Jorge Padrón and cigar loverGordon Mott, former editor and current senior editor, took the stage to kick off the seminars. They were there to smoke and discuss the #3 cigar of 2020: the Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Hermoso. The all-Nicaraguan 1964 Anniversary line has been a staple of Padrón Cigars since its introduction in 1994 and, at 4 inches by 56, the Hermoso has the distinction of being both the shortest and the one of the thickest cigars in the 1964 line.
“The Hermoso was a cigar that I introduced a few years ago,” Padrón said. “As a cigar smoker myself, I found myself often not having much time to smoke, but I wanted a larger ring that we didn’t have in our wallet. C is how this cigar came out.
Predictably, the conversation between Mott and Padrón was interspersed with humorous reminiscences of Jorge’s father, José Orlando Padrón, who founded the brand and died in 2017. The stories ranged from hotboxing the car with cigar smoke on long drives to Nicaraguan farms, to Mott visiting while José Orlando was suffering from pneumonia to come down the next morning to see the cigar veteran puffing diligently on the couch.
Big Smoke veteran Fletcher Wells.
“What do you think of that?” Mott asked the audience while holding up the Hermoso. The audience quickly burst into cheers and applause.
Later that morning, after the Winner’s Circle Seminar ended, Savona and Richard Dolak, Fuente-Newman’s Vice President of Operations, took the stage to discuss the #2 cigar of 2020: the Fuente Fuente OpusX Double Robusto.
As guests began looking for their OpusX cigars to smoke with the seminar, a surprise awaited them: an additional OpusX cigar, and one not usually available to the public: a Fuente Fuente OpusX Destino al Siglo Lancero, which Fuente’s representatives distributed. to the seminary crowd. It was a special gift from Carlos Fuente Jr., who was unable to attend due to a family issue.
“Listen, don’t smoke this morning,” Dolak warned the crowd. “This is not a coffee cigar. Save it for dinner or later. It should be quite potent.
Jorge Padón, the Padrón cigar maker, smoking on stage with Gordon Mott of Cigar Aficionado.
“I’m a huge fan of the lanceo shape – I’ve always found that the lanceo really gives you a real cigar wrapper taste because there’s less filler tobacco,” Savona says. “The story of the Fuente Fuente OpusX, for me, is really the story of this cape.”
Dolak and Savona reflected on the rarity of the OpusX brand, in part due to the harsh climate where the wrapper is grown. “One thing I can tell you Carlito won’t, won’t do is change the goddamn cigar,” Dolak said emphatically. “When you take time out of your busy day to smoke that cigar…we know every cigar we make, we want you to have a great experience. So our motto, we won’t make cigars if we can’t not support it 100%, which is why there are no more.
The two then discussed how OpusX wrapper leaves are grown not for their size, but for their taste. Dolak even compared the process of growing wrapper leaves to growing apples. “You can’t change it, but you can grow it differently,” he said. “We don’t farm for the pounds, we farm for the taste.” At 52 rings, the OpusX Double Robusto isn’t what the standard market considers a thick cigar, but as Dolak noted, you won’t see an OpusX 6 by 60.” That’s about as thick as possible,” he said.
Rich Dolak of Fuente and Newman. He surprised the crowd with a special gift from Carlos Fuente Jr.: Fuente Fuente OpusX Lanceros.
Before the seminar ended, Savona asked how Dolak felt about working for a company that’s been around for more than a century. “You have to be humble,” he replied, “It’s a huge responsibility.”
After an Ask the Editors panel with four cigar lover editors (Gordon Mott, Greg Mottola, Jack Bettridge and Savona) answering questions from the audience, it was time to discuss the #1 cigar of 2020, the Carrillo Pledge Prequel EP. Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, the man who made the cigar, thanked everyone present who made it all possible.
Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, maker of Cigar Aficionado’s Cigar of the Year and 50-year veteran of the company.
“I want to congratulate you guys,” Perez-Carrillo said. “Right now, we are living in the golden age of the industry. I mean, I’ve been in the industry for over 50 years and we live it. It’s the best time for this industry and it’s thanks to all of you who support us.
He then congratulated the Fuente and Padrón families for their 2020 Top 25 awards, as well as Rafael Nodal who won first place in 2019.
“Ernesto, why don’t you start by telling us a bit about this cigar?” Savona asked, brandishing her enlightened Pledge Prequel.
Perez-Carrillo said it started after his Encore was named the No. 1 cigar of 2018. “My kids came up to me and said, ‘What do we do next? ‘” Perez-Carrillo said. He then recounted how he found six blends that used Ecuador Connecticut wrappers, but the cigars didn’t quite land when he smoked them for his children.
An enthusiastic participant in the Multitasking Seminar: Documenting the Action on Stage While Pulling a Cigar.
Perez-Carrillo then recalled a cigar he had made in 2018 as a TAA exclusive that used a Connecticut Habano wrapper, which he had first become familiar with in the 1980s when he was walking around. Miami and visited the bodegas. A brand there kept selling out, piquing her curiosity. He asked the owner what kind of tobacco he used, but the man had such a small amount that he couldn’t sell it. He promised to order more from her under the promise that Perez-Carrillo would not tell anyone.
In 2017, during a visit to the Dominican Republic, he found more of this Connecticut Habano packaging for sale, which he used for the 2018 TAA exclusive. he gave it to his son Ernesto III to try, who loved it like everyone else who tried it.
“You have to understand when you get a #1 cigar, forget what it does to your business, the growth, the popularity, forget all of that,” Perez-Carrillo explained. “It’s that special feeling that you get, ‘I finally got into this industry.'”