Vegas in July is hot. Like, really, really hot.
Temperatures in the desert city are known to reach an average of 41 degrees celsius (105.8 degrees fahrenheight), which pretty much renders being outside for any relatively long duration impossible (unless maybe you’re submerged up to your shoulders in a pool with a cold drink in your hand).
Such temperatures practically nullify the possibility of enjoying a cigar outdoors.
Extreme Vegas temperatures did not however, deter Premium Cigar Association (PCA) members like myself (attendance requires having a membership) from travelling to Sin City to blow smoke indoors and see what’s new in the world of premium cigars at the 2022 PCA within the Venetian hotel complex.
The following are a handful of standout exhibitors and what they had to showcase at PCA 2022.
You’d be hard pressed to find a booth that generated a bigger buzz than Arturo Fuente, who pulled out all the stops to create a dazzling experience for those who passed through.
Industry icons like José Blanco and of course Carlito himself could be found at the booth from time to time, and were always happy to interact with scores of lovers of the brand.
Apart from the many elaborate displays of Fuente cigars, accessories and memorabilia, one of the most talked about components of the Fuente booth was unquestionably the Fuente Y Padrón ‘Legends Are Forever’ cigar collaboration.
Prior to the festivities, I lit up a Don Carlos Personal Reserve Robusto with an A. Fuente espresso.
The two legendary cigarmakers had each crafted a special cigar to commemorate the life of the other’s late father (Jose O. Padrón/Carlos Fuente Sr.). The official unveiling ceremony on the Saturday drew a mammoth crowd that culminated in a colossal cloud of smoke.
It must also be noted that Arturo Fuente was purposely adjacent to J.C. Newman Cigar Co., who, not only have an assortment of their cigars made at Tabacalera A. Fuente, but are also the co-founders of the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation in the Bonao region of the Dominican Republic.
The Newman booth once again featured a giant cardboard-structured recreation of the J.C. Newman El Reloj (which means “the clock” in Spanish) factory in Ybor City, Tampa Bay, Florida, the oldest cigar factory in the USA. The Newman booth came complete with a detailed history of the company (including some vintage boxed cigars like the Cuesta Rey) as well as tobacco that appeared as it it was hanging to cure in a barn.
Both Eric and Bobby Newman frequented the booth to interact with attendees.
My Father Cigars
The Garcia family have become a powerhouse in the cigar industry and as a result, their very busy yet very well laid out open concept booth was constantly humming with activity.
Alongside the entire MF booth staff (and there were many), father and son cigar makers Jaime and Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia were seen sporting either a home or away My Father Cigars baseball jersey that appeared to resemble the New York Yankees (home) or the Montreal Expos (away).
Among the cache of MF cigars on display was the La Flor de las Antillas 10th Anniversary cigar. The medium-bodied original was Cigar Aficionado’s Cigar Of The Year in 2012.
As for me, I enjoyed a Fonseca – the Garcia family’s rendition of the classic Cuban brand. Unlike many of the fuller-bodied/stronger MF releases, it is a mild-medium bodied smoke and was very enjoyable.
“The booth was also very elegant and created the feeling as if you were window shopping at a very high end designer clothing store.”
Rocky Patel’s booth was among the most elegant, and featured beautiful glass display cases throughout which displayed boxes of cigars adorned with decorative floral arrangements. Rocky’s boxing and packaging is always on point, and of course his cigars have the quality to match.
All in all, a very classy, inviting layout from Mr. RP.
At the Ashton booth I was treated to a La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor (an Ashton brand), and enjoyed it with Ashton creator Robert Levin, his daughter Meera and son Sathya.
The booth was also very elegant and created the feeling as if you were window shopping at a very high end designer clothing store.
Robert created Ashton in 1985 in Philadelphia, PA where they are still based out of to this very day.
The Quesada booth was a little more intimate, and afforded showgoers to the opportunity frequently interact with the legendary Manolo Quesada who proudly had his 75th Anniversary cigar on display for all to see.
Raquel Quesada (Manolo’s daughter) is among today’s rapidly growing crop of SOTL (Sister Of the Leaf) influencers, and was on hand to offer me a Casa Magna Connecticut, the perfect mild yet characterful cigar to kick off my final day.
It came as no surprise that Toscano was officially awarded as ‘Best Small Booth’ for PCA 2022.
Their setup instantly made me desire a coffee, as it was made to resemble a sleek Italian coffee shop.
The new Toscano ‘Master Aged’ series was on display. Master Aged feature the trademark rustic wrapper and come in the numbers 1, 2 or 3.
Each release is undoubtedly full-bodied, but differ from each other as a result of either the fire curing process, the aging period or the tobacco (tobaccos from Kentucky, Tennessee and Italy are used).
Toscano were also the sponsor and host of a ‘members cocktail hour’, which saw attendees enjoy a complimentary cocktail (I enjoyed a Negroni) and nibble on charcuterie while American Brand Ambassador Michael Cappellini proudly educated and delighted guests with a new Master Aged Series cigar.
When the daytime show hours had drawn to a close, PCA cigar lovers certainly didn’t call it a day as a central Palazzo casino bar became the hotspot for further hobnobbing under a big cloud of smoke.
It also drew quite a few of the industry’s big names who seemed to love mixing it up with the evening crowd.
Despite less-than-optimal turnouts from both exhibitors and attendees in the past year (blame covid mostly), PCA 2022 saw the event return to form, especially on the first three days of the show.
By the final day of the show (a Tuesday), the crowds had mostly disappeared and the hall was quite scant (apparently this was to be expected).
All in all, this was a highly enjoyable Las Vegas experience spent safe from the heat indoors with fellow lovers of the leaf from North America and across the globe.
Bring on 2023.