IPCPR 2012. What an incredible experience thusfar. Over the next week or two, I’ll be posting up lots of information on several new cigars/lines/companies that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at the show. The boutique makers are coming on strong right now…a phenomena that I welcome (selfishly). The sheer volume of great cigars coming into the marketplace is impressive, and it’s a wonderful time to be a cigar enthusiast. It seems (in my eyes) to be a bit of a boom in that there are lots of new consumers coming into the hobby, and many quality cigars there to greet them. It’s a more favorable situation than the boom of the ’90s. During that time, when demand outpaced production many makers released cigars into the market that simply were not suitable for consumption – whether that be because of rushed production, improperly prepared tobacco (due to time constraints), or simply not taking the time to develop a blend enough to make it sustainable longterm. Today, in comparison, the market has become so competitive that a newly introduced line of cigars that isn’t ready simply doesn’t survive. That’s a boon to us as consumers, I think. I’ve had the opportunity to sample a few new/new to me cigars recently, and overall I see a majority of them being very good to great sticks. Earlier today, I was able to spend some time speaking with one of the newer folks coming onto the scene – Reynold Benitez of Benitez Cigars. He filled me in on some of the changes going on with Benitez blends, and new offerings (I’ll be posting those details in an upcoming review). He has a new corona, which he graciously allowed me to sample. Having a couple of hours to rest before heading back out to Corona for the evening’s festivities, I fired it up while hanging out around the pool and tuning in to Dogwatch Cigar Radio (forgive the terrible picture, it was taken on a phone by someone who has no idea what he’s doing). I have tried Benitez cigars before, and thought they were quality smokes. The earlier blends didn’t necessarily fall directly into the sweetspot for my palate, although I did enjoy them. They were quite bold and spicy – I enjoy spice and pepper in a cigar, but have to be prepared for it with a solid constitution – I’m not a nicotine fiend that can smoke potent cigars on an empty stomach. After finishing the new corona, however, I am thoroughly impressed with it. The initial puffs produced some spice, and a slight burn through the nose upon retrohale. But within minutes, it had settled in nicely. The nasal burn dissipated and it developed into a nice, rich tobacco flavor. I won’t drag this out into a full review, but suffice it to say I loved the blend. It was on the fuller end of the medium range in terms of strength to my tastes, but quite full flavored. The blend works very well in this size – and the care invested in creating it is apparent. It is quite polished and well assembled. I think you’ll definitely be hearing more about Benitez cigars. I will certainly be buying some more of these the next time I pass through Charmed Leaf…and expect a review or two to follow around here. Anyway, it’s now after 1:30 a.m., and I need to get some sleep. It’s another big day tomorrow on the showfloor. G’night, folks
Co-Founder at Half Ashed
I have been a cigar enthusiast since 1994, and seriously strayed into heavy involvement with the industry just before founding The Cigarmy blog in 2011. The preoccupation with the tobacco industry grew once more when I founded Half Ashed with co-host Craig Schneider in February 2013. With the consolidation of The Cigarmy and Half Ashed in late 2014, you can now read my cigar reviews, news and editorial commentary here - and catch me live every week on the Half Ashed Cigar Podcast.