Comments on the 2014 IPCPR

Opinion

The IPCPR for 2014 is finally over. And with the exception of the forklifts and the last second wrap-up sales meetings, the show is complete. But what happened during what I call the Big Show? Who were the big ballers that came in with bigger booths? Who were the small companies that had a staff of two that made a real impression? Let’s go over a little bit of the 2014 IPCPR and I can give you some of my viewpoints on this year’s Big Show.

IPCPR 2014 floor

When most of the people out in the world of cigar consumers think about the IPCPR, they have a tendency to think of all of the new products that are being introduced to retailers like a day-after-Thanksgiving sale. The comments heard in most shops in the next few weeks will be something along the lines of “what is Pete releasing this year?” or “what did Drew show off at the show?” What I saw was along those same lines but was sitting right next to the gimmicks and sales of non-premium tobacco. What I saw the most was the little guy that had no real staff but a helluva product contrasted with virtually limitless resources also having a helluva product. What I came away with was a belief that talent was everywhere and, whether you had money or not for displays, that talent was easy to see and easier to access during the IPCPR. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t some really interesting things to see or hear at this year’s Big Show.

For the best booth, I have to go with Drew Estate. Anytime you can walk up to a second story in a convention center and lord over people while smoking DE stuff is just balls. The music was so-so but the people and atmosphere were very charged up.

The booth that made me laugh the most was the al Fakher shisha booth. Anything with the name al Fakher that you put in your mouth and smoke is just giggle-rific.

The coolest looking booth has got to go to Foundry Tobacco Co. They had their steampunk stuff out there but it was dilapidated and run down. There were busted signs hanging from the eaves, the steam boiler was hissing out at times trying to release the overpressure and the equipment was dirty and beat up. But you pass through the back door and you’re in the 1960’s. As you wind through the corridor you see a wall filled with posters showing timelines, from 1914 to 1964 to 2014 to 2064. The booth was the progression of the Foundry lines with the breaking down of the old Foundry and breaking in of the new. When you get to the modern day there is a part in the script that they play a real Theremin for effect (I was told that there really wasn’t a script but I’ve seen more effort put into Disney ride scripts that couldn’t beat the Foundry show). Then you get to the Martian habitat dome growing tobacco with the Martian Astronaut that picks the tobacco for curing. I was told, outside of the show floor, that the Astronaut looked like one of the Martian zombie-nauts from The Last Days on Mars. Thing is that when you look at the panel in the Foundry worm hole tunnel, you really see that zombie. Personally I think Michael Giannini is a mad-scientist genius and uber-creative.

The best use of technology at the show has got to go to Hammer and Sickle. Besides offering authentic Russian vodka made from eastern wheat, they had their collection of beautiful (and heavy) boxes on display. The technology was that they were handing out two-cigar samples in a glass coffin that was laser etched for free with your name or store name. You actually got to see the glass lid placed into the laser and zapped. It was stunning.

The worst IPCPR idea has got to be letting technology companies that are closer in concept to 3 a.m. infomercials than anything premium tobacco or pipe related into the show to hawk their wares. Going down some aisles you would be practically assaulted by a sales pitch for a solar panel cell phone charger or a battery pack cell phone charger and then stumble across foot massagers in different aisle. The last I checked the IPCPR was an acronym for International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers. The “C” is not for Cell phone Chargers and the “P” is not for Pedicure. Really dumb idea IPCPR committee.

My next gripe is still being debated by some of the others at the show: Vape, Hookah and shisha. With some premium cigar companies making shisha now (and doing well from what I saw), it is entirely debatable whether hookah and shisha should be on the floor right next to Padron, Fuente or Ashton. But in my opinion, the allowance of Vape and the accessories for that ‘smoking’ practice into the Premium Cigar & Pipe show is ridiculous. Is there a market for it? Absolutely. Is there a market in the Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers of America? I’m sure that in some cases there might be. But is it bad of me to be a purist and say that I just thought sitting down with a La Sirena cigar or a pipe full of Stokkebye tobacco was what the IPCPR show was supposed to be about? I really don’t think so. Would the Big Show crumble if those rave-obsessed hookah booths and vape colonies weren’t allowed to pay up and come into the show? Beat’s me because I don’t see the economics of the Show. But when I see that they have a Political Action Committee to fight the FDA for all of us premium cigar and pipe smokers and ask for money to fund that PAC and THEN put the products on the show floor that they tell Congress they are in no way associated with is beyond ridiculous. Way beyond…

Some of the booths that I thought were really interesting were:

Dante Cigars – Michael Huff, or just Huff, puts out a good cigar (which will be reviewed here real soon) and the down-home hospitality that he shares was very nice (and so was the rum).

Cohiba – I’m all for booth babes but there was a girl there that I swear could be Taylor Swift’s twin. It was difficult to leave…or to focus on the gorgeous, new Cohiba Luxury Seleccion No.1

Daniel Marshall – ignoring the serious and cool urban ghetto vibe, they had Tony Atlas of WWE wrestling Hall of Fame in their booth. Tony is a really nice person and had some great stories to share.

Tatuaje, My Father Cigars and L’Atelier – seeing the Tatuaje fanboi parade line up at the booth was hilarious. Seeing the new lines of L’Atelier was better. I like L’Atelier and their 5 pack minis look really good. And I hear the Tatouage wine was pretty tasty too.

Lotus – This huge booth to all things fire was very classically laid out. The new lighters are legion and all very pretty to look at.

There were a lot things to look at, to smoke, to touch and feel and smell at the 2014 IPCPR show. The overall impression that I got from it though was that while there are new innovations and blends in the industry, there were fewer retailers on the floor. If you believe the current economic reports then the show should have had some of the bigger numbers of the past. But one booth told me that there were clearly not as many retailers this year and it was, as he thought, due to the idea that the IPCPR committee was really cracking down on retailers bringing along their friends and clansmen rather than the buyers and the sellers of the store. This really does make sense, especially since those friends would only want to meet the principals of a company for some “OMG! I shook JD’s hand” time and to yank every sample they could from the hands and display boxes lining the booths. I did hear that the numbers were being hit and that sales were pretty strong and steady despite the appearance of fewer numbers. And for this, I am happy as that means for another year, I get to have the new Monster or the latest Element in The Humidor.

Come back here to The Humidor often as we review a lot of the new stuff given out at the 2014 IPCPR over the new few weeks. See you in The Humidor.

 

Aaron McKinley  @ArnaudMCK

Foundry Elements H2O review

During the 2013 IPCPR Foundry Tobacco Co. gave out some mysterious information about their new lines. The mystery deepened when it was announced that out of the twelve new offerings half would be online only and the other half would be at your local brick and mortar tobacconist. The Foundry Tobacco Co website showcased these rare blendings to create the Compounds, Elements & Musings line. The Foundry Tobacco Co site states:

Inspired by the periodic table, Compounds, Elements, and Musings is a study in contrasts and complexities. Here, chemical elements are represented by 18 exotic blends, each exhibited in arresting packaging. Multitudes of tobacco, handpicked from obscurity, compose the common thread among them.

There are six offerings that are exclusive to brick and mortar stores. For the H2O line, there are three distinct blends that combine to form…water. Honestly you get three cigars that share the box and the shape. An interesting box, an interesting shape and some interesting tobaccos.

The format of our review is based upon the individual blends. They all share the same sizes and the same base tobaccos but with no real blend info. The box states that the tobacco origins are Costa Rica and Mysterioso.

Here are my notes on the H, 2 and O cigars:

The Facts:

  • Maker:            Foundry Tobacco Co.
  • Size:               4 inches
  • Ring gauge:   49×48
  • Vitola:            Short Perfecto
  • Wrapper:        Secret
  • Binder:           Secret
  • Filler:              Secret
  • Origin:            Dominican Republic
  • No. smoked:   1 of each

Foundry Elements H2O group

The Review:

Each of the cigars comes with an enormous band stating either H, 2 or O. The band slips off effortlessly making lighting and smoking the cigar easy to accomplish. Looking at the bands, they are simple photocopies of the letter of the element, a couple screws below and then a radian bursting out toward the base of the band. The picture reminds me of an older, manual typewriter and ribbon. Each of the cigars are very well rolled short perfectos, which means that they will all have draw issues at the start. The best thing that I have found for any perfecto is to toast a good quarter inch of the foot, puff a little and then really start smoking. This worked well with each of the cigars.

Foundry Elements H2O H

H

Checking out the cigar the toothy wrapper had some aromas of hay and cocoa. This vitola had an oily sheen and was built solid. The cap was slightly crooked but glued well. The color of the cigar was a chocolate brown with a slightly reddish hue. The pre-light tastes were faint but had some earthiness and pepper. When lit, it started very bitter and followed into huge notes of spicy pepper. As the cigar progressed the pepper stayed there on full tilt with some hints of oak and rich notes of cocoa. At the end of the cigar some distinct flavors of graham cracker came through the spiciness and finished strong. The ash on this particular vitola was dark grey and flaky. The strength of the cigar kept even in the medium to medium full range and the body was strong.

Foundry Elements H2O 2

2

For the second cigar of the water formula, the look was completely different. Showing some nice oils and a little bit of tooth, the wrapper was much darker than the others. The cap was better on the 2 and the construction was solid. Aromas of sweet tobacco and bread were very apparent and the pre-light draw gave some cocoa, tobacco and a slight salitness. On the light, the cigar started on a sweet, almost fruity note followed by some cedar and mild pepper flavors. As the smoke progressed an espresso came out with the pepper, the fruitiness receded and a nice molasses taste left a sweetness in the mouth. Smoke production was very good with this cigar and construction was very nice. The ash was grey and flaky, similar to the H. The strength of the cigar was a solid medium and the body was medium as well.

Foundry Elements H2O O

O

The last cigar in the group showed some veins on the toothy wrapper and was definitely the lightest shade of the bunch, the color of a café latte. The wrapper gave aromas of sweet wood and tobacco and the pre-light flavor was papery. Construction was well done on this cigar, similar to the other vitolas in this offering. After lighting, the cigar opened up very well with some huge notes of sweet cedar. Layered below the cedar, which lasted through the length of the cigar, there was a very light leather taste with some almond nuttiness and a slight tanginess. The middle of the cigar had some very light pepper flavors but the star of this particular cigar was cedar. Toward the end the spicy pepper flavor ramps up but has no chance against the cedar.

The entire offering shared some great flavors of pepper and cedar. To be certain, they share some tobaccos between them but they are distinct in certain flavor profiles: the H with the huge spicy pepper, the 2 with its sweetness and the O with the cedar.

Each of them were well within the range of medium strength with the H coming out a bit ahead of the rest.

Elements H2O box

A label on the box shows the various countries of tobacco origin for the entire Foundry Elements line. The box for the H2O had only the Costa Rica and the Mysterioso boxes checked. I was told that this was done purposefully by the creators of the line so that tobaccos would not give you a specific pre-smoke impression but would allow the smoker to simply enjoy rare tobaccos.

As we stated, this cigar line, the Foundry Elements, has been released to both the online/catalog retailers as well as the brick and mortar communities. Personally I think that this ultimately hurts the local tobacconist as the consumer will come in, ask for a Foundry Elements and then be told that only half of them are available.

Most of the Elements blends will be very limited in the number of boxes made and will become a rare commodity. These are made small batch and limited production. Once they are off the shelves, they will be gone forever. Only two blends in the line will be available after the others are gone: the Carbon and the Uranium.

Overall, these cigars are something that everyone should try to get. As they are uniquely for the brick and mortar retailers, I highly advise that you try to get some of each to try now before they disappear. Visually the box is unique: all three cigars packed in the same box in different sections. The packaging is definitely not unique to Foundry Tobacco as many manufacturers put multiple blends in a single box, oftentimes as a sampler of a line. What makes the H2O Elements cigars unique would be the mystery behind the blends and the idea to just try it. What recommendations would I give for pairing this offering: the H would have to be with a Chile Colorado, the 2 has some great dessert qualities, especially with crème brulee and the O would be fantastic with a pulled pork sandwich and all the fixins.

My recommendation: get some now and try to keep a few stocked in The Humidor.

ArnaudMCK  Aaron McKinley

Foundry Elements Plutonium Green Review

During the 2013 IPCPR Foundry Tobacco Co., an offshoot of the General Cigar Company, gave out some information and a few pictures about their new lines. A new Foundry Tobacco Co website was built that showcased interesting new box designs combined with rare blendings to create the Compounds, Elements & Musings line. The Foundry Tobacco Co site states:

Inspired by the periodic table, Compounds, Elements, and Musings is a study in contrasts and complexities. Here, chemical elements are represented by 18 exotic blends, each exhibited in arresting packaging. Multitudes of tobacco, handpicked from obscurity, compose the common thread among them.

Apparently, there will be six offerings that will be internet/catalog only. Likewise there will be six additional offerings that will be exclusive to brick and mortar stores. Looking across the InterWebs, I stumbled across the Plutonium, Europium and Vanadium blends. The Plutonium grouping is unique in that it gives four unique blends to four different boxes of cigars. Combined together, these boxes form a bundle of dynamite.

This review is for the Plutonium Green.

Plutonium PU Green start

The Facts:

  • Maker:           Foundry Tobacco Co.
  • Size:              5 inches
  • Ring gauge:   50
  • Vitola:            Pu Green
  • Wrapper:        Secret
  • Binder:           Secret
  • Filler:              Secret
  • Origin:            Dominican Republic
  • No. smoked:   1

The Review:

Checking out the cigar the focus immediately goes to the band. As you can see, the band leaves a small area for the cap and a slightly smaller area for the foot of the cigar. The green is striking and the Pu – the elemental symbol for plutonium – shows up very well. The toothy wrapper had some aromas of wood and floral – almost a jasmine. The foot of this cigar held a nice chocolate and woody aroma. This vitola is solid and the cap is done well. The color of the cigar was chocolate brown with a slight reddish tinge, similar to a colorado wrapper. Both bands were placed well but the larger, top band seemed to be cut on a curve. The pre-light taste were notes of tea and a hint of floral.

Plutonium PU Green 1_3

The first third of the cigar started off with a huge pepper note. As the tobacco burned the pepper began to fade a little, replaced with sweet cedar and oak. This cigar had some saltiness to it that was accentuated by the oak. The smoke production was good and the burn was pretty even. The ash was very firm and had to be bumped off. The aroma coming from the cigar was rich with oak and good tobacco. The ash was dark and light grey.

Plutonium PU Green 2_3

By the time the second third showed the pepper was in and out. The strength of the cigar was firmly in the medium range and the flavor of oak was strong. An additional taste of strong brewed tea was coming up at the beginning of this section. The vitola continued to put out good smoke that smelled of oak. It was at this point that I noted that the oak flavor was very reminiscent of a well-seasoned fireplace. The burn was still good and the cigar never needed a touch up.

The final third of the cigar continued with the oak. The flavors stayed at a consistent level; they didn’t ramp up as I expected they would. The sweet cedar was there again with a little bit of a tangy mouth feel. Right at the end, a nice buttery note peeked though, lasting long enough to finish the cigar on a great flavor, similar to a salted caramel. This vitola took 60 minutes to smoke.

Plutonium PU Green Fin

The Foundry Plutonium Green shows some real strong flavor. I mentioned earlier that it reminded me of a well-seasoned fireplace. It’s the oak and char taste that makes it so unique.

The band on this cigar is quite impressive if only to almost completely hide the cigar. When the wrapper is removed, the leaf below is very toothy with some oils.

The upper band is different in its artistic interpretation. The P is there but plutonium is Pu on the periodic charts. I’m not sure I see where the ‘u’ is located. The color of green is vibrant

Pu Box side_by_side

The box that this particular vitola came packed in looks only vaguely like what the Foundry Tobacco Co. site shows. Putting both pictures side by side, you can see that there is no front latch but slide top lid. The large, black rubber band is there and I love it. The Pu plutonium mark is found everywhere on each of the boxes. I can only assume that the box on the Foundry site didn’t do so well on its own weight and tipped over too much.

There are four different Plutonium blends: Green, White, Orange and Yellow. The cigar cellophane sticker states Plutonium Green 4. Each blend in the Plutonium line will be sized 5 x 50.

Plutonium Label

A label on the box shows the various countries of tobacco origin. In addition, you will find a box for Mysterioso and “Smoke It” The Plutonium blends have all of them marked. More secrets…

These cigars have been released to online and catalog entities and are available now. While I normally try to buy strictly from brick and mortar, with this series I went where the cigars were.

These Plutonium blends will be very limited in the number of boxes made and will become a rare commodity. These are made small batch and limited production. Once they are off the shelves, they will be gone forever.

Overall, this cigar is a solid buy. Visually it’s unique: the box is stunning. I loved how the cigar was packed and the tastes were unique, a rare feat. The artistic side of the packaging may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it gets your attention and the cigar’s flavor will hold it there. I would personally recommend having this cigar after a nice dinner of pulled pork or brisket.

My recommendation: get some now and keep this one stocked in The Humidor.