For most of us, the end of a year is a time to reflect on the last twelve months, to remember the best parts and perhaps pinpoint the things we can do better in the twelve months to come. For most cigar bloggers, this end of the year also marks a time to recollect the best cigars we smoked in the last twelve months and create a “best of” or “top” list.
I will not be doing one.
Now, I know a lot of you really enjoy reading the cigars other aficionados enjoyed the most and comparing them to your own favorites. I did attempt to compile a list, but I ran into a bit of a dilemma and decided to do something different. As I considered all the good cigars I smoked this last year, I realized that they were just good. There were very few that stood out as great, and definitely not enough for a top ten or even a top five. I am by no means trying to dog on any manufacturer for any cigar released this year. Keep in mind this is just my opinion. Like I said, there were a lot of good cigars but not many were incredibly memorable above anything else.
So you may be wondering what exactly made my 2012 memorable. I can very easily come up with a dozen examples and they all revolve around cigars. They are events I attended, new friends I made and old friends I reconnected with, not to mention the countless miles I put on my car traveling from coast to coast. Now, in chronological order, here’s a summary of the highlights of my year.
DC Tweetup 2012
The First Annual DC Tweetup was held on St. Patricks day weekend over the course of a few days. The first night was a tasting event at Cigar Connection in Arlington, VA with Sentidos Cigars, followed by an event at Bailey’s Pub and Grille with RoMaCraft Tobac. The following day started with attendees boarding a party bus and heading to Chesapeake Cigars for a Room 101 event also joined by CRA. Later, the bus took everyone to W Curtis Draper’s in Bethesda, MD for a CAO event. Since this day was St. Patrick’s day, there absolutely was shenanigans and we were joined by the craziest of leprechaun’s, Matt Booth, in festive gear.
Needless to say, the weekend was an absolute blast full of food, drinks and of course great cigars and definitely worth the trek from Oklahoma. This years tweetup is scheduled for March 15-16, 2013. I will be posting more information as soon as I have it, but it promises to be bigger and crazier.
Texas Cigar Fest 2013
This year marked the third annual Texas Cigar Festival, hosted by Serious Cigars out of Houston. It was held April 14, 2012 in a tent in the store parking lot. Tickets were $125 a piece and each ticket holder received a goodie bag of 29 cigars as well as other swag. Food, wine, scotch and bourbon were also included in the price of the ticket. This is one event I look forward to every year. It is so wonderfully executed and always a wonderful time. It’s a great opportunity to have a cigar and chat with some of the great people that make up our industry. For photos from Serious Cigars Texas Cigar Fest, check out their album here. And I hope to see you there in 2013.
Butthead’s Tobacco Virtual Cigar Workshop with Jose Blanco
The Virtual Cigar Workshop was held at Butthead’s Tobacco Emporium in Danbury, CT on June 21,2012. I was very fortunate to not only attend this event but also to participate and share a bit about my hybrids during the live feed portion of the show. After that, Jose Blanco shared his expertise and experience with all of us there in the shop and those viewing the live feed. We each had a cigar with five different wrappers on it. He walked us through each one, asking us all to share our thoughts, including taking a stab at the country of origin. I learned so much during this event and it will always remain a highlight of my cigar experience.
IPCPR 2012, Orlando
This year IPCPR was done a little differently and was held in Orlando, FL at the beginning of August. It was ver unique from previous experience but still a lot of fun. From sun up to the wee hours of the morning the week was filled with one cigar after another (73 total for me), learning about the new cigars this year, manufacturers parties and not a whole hell of a lot of sleep. I always look forward to IPCPR because it is such a wonderful time to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. The 14 hour drive there and back was a blast as well, long but fun with my copilot, Lawrence.
The 2nd annual #CHATweetup was held August 24-25, 2012 n Chattanooga, TN between both Burns locations. We had the opportunity to check out both shops, herf with fellow cigar lovers from all over the country and even go see a local baseball game. The staff at Burns were wonderful hosts and made sure we all had a great time. Each attendee received a goodie bag with cigars and a Tshirt. They also hosted raffles throughout the weekend as well as arranging a DJ and a band to make the weekend even more enjoyable. It was an absolute blast!!! Here’s a little video of one of the highlights, some of the guys took over the stage and had a little freestyle session for us.
After this, we also had the chance to watch an improv dance to *N SYNC’s “Bye, Bye, Bye”. Classic. Attendees this year included Jon Huber of Crowned Heads, Christian Eiroa and Tom Lazuka from CLE, Matt Booth from Room 101, Gary Griffith of Emilio Cigars, Kurt Kendall and Rick Ardito of 7-20-4, Clint Aaron of 262 Cigars, Sean Williams of El Primer Mundo and many more!!
Delaware Cigar Festival
The Delaware Cigar Festival has been going on for 6 years and is a charity event. This year was held out at Delaware Park, in perfect view of the horse races. it was the perfect day to mingle under the pavilions, smoke cigars, eat, drink and get some deals on some of our favorite cigars, all for a good cause. There were goodie bags, door prizes, raffles, a buffet and plenty of drinks to go round. This years attendees included reps and personalities from General Cigars, Rocky Patel, Illusione, EP Carillo, 1502 Cigars, Tarazona Cigars, Altadis, RoMaCraft Tobac, Oliva Cigars, Alec Bradley Cigars, My Father Cigars, Miami Cigars, 262 Cigars, El Primer Mundo, JC Newmann/Fuente, El Tiante, Drew Estates, Ortega, AJ Fernandez and our host Gary Griffith of Emilio Cigars. This is one event I look forward to attending next year.
W Curtis Draper’s Little Puff
Little Puff is another great event benefitting not one, but three great causes in academic scholarships. The thirteenth annual event was held September 28th on the rooftop of 101 Constitution Avenue, which boasts a fabulous view of DC. This was not just an occasion to get dressed to the nines and smoke and drink, it was an opportunity to give back. The proceeds from the event and auction benefitted the Erik Kristensen Memorial Scholarship in honor of a Navy SEAL killed in action; the Pat Krimm Scholarship & the Anne Berman Memorial Scholarship. View the official W. Curtis Draper’s Little Puff 2012 Gallery here.
River City Cigar Circus at The Humidor Westside
October 6, 2012 marked the first annual Cigar Circus hosted by the Humidor Westside of Wichita, KS. They had over 14 manufacturers represented and in attendance. I loved the setup. They took the Circus outside of the shop and into tents. There was a lounge tent complete with a bar as well as the main cigar tent. They had raffles and door prizes, food and the incredible DJ Carbon, playing music pretty much until the sun came up. It was a long but epic night. This years River City Cigar Circus is scheduled for May, check back for more details.
Chesapeake Cigars Hosts #Oktweeterfest2012
Oktoberfest + Cigars + Twitter = #Oktweeterfest at Chesapeake Cigars in Edgewater, MD. In attendance we had Fred from Nomad Cigars, Jeannie from Sassy Ash Cigar Accessories, Lawrence from Tarazona Cigars and Matt Booth from Room 101 Cigars. Throw in a heck of a lot of beer, brats and even some fairy dust and you’ll be sure to have a great time. I had the pleasure of being the shop “beer wench” for the day and had an absolute blast. Hopefully this will be repeated next year. But at Chesapeake we are always looking for reasons to celebrate our freedom to drink and smoke amongst friends!!
A Week at Smoke Cigar Shop and Lounge
Several weeks ago, my dear friends Eddie and Lawrence from Tarazona Cigars invited me to meet up with them up in Pennsylvania. Now, being a sucker for a nice long drive and checking out new cigar shops, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Especially when I found out they were having an event at Smoke Cigar Shop and Lounge in Bridgeville, PA. I had been wanting to visit this shop for quite awhile. It is run by a bad as chick, Mame Kendall. It is an absolutely beautiful shop with a fantastic selection. I met some great people and had such a great time that I wound up staying for almost a week. Mame was a wonderful hostess and this experience will always stand out for me. I’m making plans to visit again soon.
Looking back, 2012 was such an incredible year. I put countless miles on my car, lost many, many hours of sleep and smoked a ridiculous amount of cigars. But out of all that, what matters to me the most are the people that crossed my path. This industry is full of such incredible people. So instead of a top ten list, I want to thank every one of you that crossed my path this last year, whether is be on twitter or an event, for making it fun, exciting and an amazing learning experience. Cheers to another wonderful 12 months!