Photo credit: Joe Urcioli

I had the honor of covering the Big Smoke Las Vegas event for The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional, attending on the evening of Friday, November 15. The three-day event included two Big Smoke evenings and exciting daytime seminars with Cigar Aficionado editors and renowned cigar makers. Held at The Mirage Events Center, and hosted by Cigar Aficionado magazine, this event was attended by hundreds of cigar smokers from all parts of the US. The cost (per Big Smoke Evening) was $375 (VIP early admission, 5:30-9:30) and $325 (general admission 6:30-9:30). All Access Packages (Friday 11/9-Sunday 11/11) included Daytime Seminars Saturday and Sunday and 2 Big Smoke evenings (VIP) $875, or Weekend Package, which included Daytime Seminars and 1 Big Smoke evening (VIP) $675. All Access Package and Weekend Package were sold out weeks before the show. VIP and Big Smoke Evenings were sold out days before the event. Purchase your tickets early for next year’s event!

Seminars included: Top 3 cigars of 2018 (E.P.Carrillo Encore Majestic, La Opulencia Toro, Nicaragua and The Wise Man Maduro Robusto), Power Tobacco, Fighting the FDA, Investing in Cuban Cigars, Women in the Cigar Industry, Cigar Lover’s Breakfast and Roll Your Own and Cigars & Spirits.

At the Big Smoke Evenings, cigars was the name of the game. Guests received a book with 30 coupons to exchange for cigars and were also given a canvas tote bag to hold all the goodies they received. When all was said and done, guests had collected 31 cigars and a Boveda event humidor bag. I also won, from Montecristo, a Lotus 5-stick travel humidor.

CIGARS:

 Here is a listing of the premium cigars given to the guests: A.J. Fernandez (bellasartes), Aging Room (maduro mezzo), Alec Bradley (gatekeeper), Archetype (arcinto initiation toro), Arturo Fuente (rosado gran reserve), Balmoral Añejo XO (oscuro), CAO (session), Casa Turrente (claro 1880), Diamond Crown, Diesel Whiskey Row (rabbit hole), Don Pepin (vegas cubanas and cuban classic), E.P. Carrillo (encore), H. Upmann (the banker), Hamlet (25th year), J.C. Newman, Joya de Nicaragua (antanoct), La Aroma de Cuba, La Flor Dominica (Coronado), Macanudo (inspirado), Montecristo (platinum series), Nat Cicco (aniversario 1965 liga no. 4), Nub (habano), Oliva (serie O), Oscar Valladares (2012), Padron (importado), Plasencia (reserve original), Rocky Patel (tavicusa), Romeo y Julieta (1875), Tatuaje (Fausto esteli) and The Wise Man (el gueguense). 

The longest lines were, once again at the Rocky Patel cigars (where Rocky Patel was taking pictures with patrons) and Alec Bradley. I stood in line for a half hour to get a Rocky Patel cigar and to have a picture taken with him! A great smoke was Nat Cicco’s Liga no. 4, a full-bodied cigar with a pronounced nuttiness. The cigar includes a pigtail at the head and a foot that is enclosed by the wrapper leaf to lock in the freshness and flavor.

FOOD:

This year the food was once again catered by The Mirage, and there was no shortage of it! There were a number of carving stations and various other culinary delights to select from, including: Steamship Baron of Beef, Penne Pasta w/Bolognese Sauce, Gemelli Pasta–grilled vegetables, Reggiano Parmesan cream sauce, Pork Carnitas, marinated Skirt Steak, Corn Tortillas, Marinated Chicken Breast w/onions, Bell Peppers, Smoked Roasted Turkey, Turkey Bacon, Rosemary and Arugula on Baguette and many others. There were also numerous desserts.

LIBATIONS:

There were plenty of drinks for all to imbibe. Pouring were: Jack Daniels Sinatra Select Bold Smooth Classic Tennessee Whiskey, D’usse Cognac VSOP & XO, Dewer’s, Hennessy VSOP& XO, Grand Brulot VSOP Cognac Café, LaGavulin, Calumet Farm Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey, Bacardi, Whistle Pig Straight Rye Whiskey, Bird Dog Whiskey, Johnnie Walker, Santaeresa 1796 and Guinness Draught Stout, Blonde American Lager and Extra Stout beer. If you couldn’t find something to like on this list then you probably don’t like to drink. All seemed to have a great time. 

Not surprisingly, there were smiles, laughter and the bouquet of premium cigars throughout the center. Considering the amount of cigars one received, along with the outstanding food and libations provided to guests, the cost of admission is well worth it. If you are serious about enjoying cigars, this is one event you will not want to miss next time around.