It’s time to discover the best way to immerse yourself in the cigar experience
Written by Maggie Kimberl
Being around other cigar smokers can be a lot of fun. After all, these are all people who share a passion for relaxing with a good cigar and when you’re among smokers there’s no such thing as social status, everyone is equal. There are events all across the country and all over the world, so it makes sense to start close by and work your way out from there. Your local tobacconist will know where the closest, biggest and coolest events are being held, so it pays to develop a relationship with your local shop.
Some events are festivals full of cigar smokers who descend upon a location for anywhere from one to six days, while others are more like tour groups learning about the growing and manufacturing process in places like Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. There’s truly something for everyone when it comes to cigar experiences and festivals, from meet and greets in your local shop to a week in a foreign country.
These experiential cigar events and trips also make great holiday and birthday gifts, and the more you attend these types of gigs, the more you will begin to acquire a ‘cigar family’, the people you always see and look forward to seeing at such events.
When you’re ready to go on a cigar adventure, check out the events below
• The Drew Estate Barn Smoker is held five times a year at five different locations in the United States.
• The Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival includes cigars, spirits, and craft beer. Meet cigar blenders and manufacturers and learn more about cigar lifestyle.
• The Habanos Festival celebrates the cigar traditions of Cuba, in its 21st year and not slowing down.
• The Procigar Festival in the Dominican Republic includes factory tours, seminars, workshops and more.
• The Nicaraguan Cigar Festival takes you all over Nicaragua, from Granada to Esteli and activities include factory tours, tours of tobacco fields and a gala dinner.
• The Texas Cigar Festival is one day to learn more about the process and products while enjoying food, live music and an open bar.
• Cigars International’s CIGARFest is five days of specials and events across Pennsylvania.
Where To Smoke
Over The Rhine Premium Cigars
1722 Elm St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
You won’t find the largest selection or the fanciest merchandise here, but what you will find is a solid selection of hand-picked cigars ranging from La Aroma De Cuba to Arturo Fuente to Padron to Drew Estate. There’s no walk-in humidor at this tiny shop, but there are multiple cabinets lining the main retail shop area. Thanks to some particular smoking laws there’s no smoking in the shop, but a short corridor leads to the owner’s personal garage, which has been nicknamed the ‘Dude Daycare’ – and dudes of all genders are welcome. This shop is right next to the Cincinnati Bell Connector stop and the renowned Findlay Market is just steps away. Also located in the area are breweries, restaurants, and bars, making this a great stop on a day of brewery tours and world-class food. This neighborhood is a great place to spend a Saturday afternoon walking around the shops, trying new foods, sitting in beer gardens, visiting the picturesque Washington Park and more.
Buena Vista Cigar Club
9715 Santa Monica Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Buena Vista Cigar Club feels refreshingly out of place in ritzy Beverly Hills. Rumor has it that this is the spot, or close to, where cigar lover George Hamilton used to operate Hamilton’s Cigar Lounge, and possibly there was a house brand of Dominican cigars, though the details have gotten murky over the years. These days owner Rigo Hernandez oversees the day to day operations of Buena Vista Cigar Club and when asked whether there are any cigars or areas of the lounge that are off limits his response is, “Everything is for everybody.” It’s a refreshingly open attitude in an area where most places won’t let you past the door unless you’re the most recent Oscar winner. The whiskey selection behind the counter is small but solid and there are enough well-worn club chairs to keep you comfortable as you chat with people who ebb and flow from the space, a mix of locals and tourists says Hernandez. The hours online may not be correct, so it’s a good idea to call ahead.
Aladino Queens Perfecto Connecticut and Rabbit Hole Heigold Bourbon
Much like the new breed of craft farmer-distillers, JRE Tobacco is a cigar company with a tobacco farming operation, giving them greater control and access when it comes to the tobacco that goes into their blends. Their tagline is, “From Crop to Shop,” much like the farm-to-table movement that has taken hold in the craft distilling industry. The wrapper of this cigar is an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade Grown leaf, the binder and filler are both from Honduras, the blend is crafted by Julio R. Eiroa. It’s mild in strength and has a tapered foot. There are notes of cocoa and cedar upon first light. Together with the Rabbit Hole Heigold Bourbon, the cigar brings out baking spice and plum stone fruit. The Bourbon brings out fruitwood notes in the cigar, making this a very nice, fruit-forward pairing.
Alec Bradley Tempus Natural Genesis and Maker’s Mark Private Select RC6
This cigar is often hailed as one of the best products in the Alec Bradley lineup, and it has been featured in top 25 lists as well as receiving consistently high ratings from multiple different cigar reviewers. The Alec Bradley Tempus Natural Genesis is made in Honduras with a Nicaraguan wrapper, a Costa Rican binder and fillers from Colombia, Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua, including Corojo and Criollo filler tobaccos from the prominent tobacco-growing Trojes region of Honduras, just north of Nicaragua. It’s medium to full bodied with notes of strongly spicy pepper, mild cedar, and espresso. Together with the Maker’s Mark Private Select RC6 the cigar brings out sweet apples and baking spice in the Bourbon and enhances the viscosity of the mouthfeel.
Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf and Minor Case Sherry Cask Finished Rye
Pete Johnson created Tatuaje in 2003, and the brand has grown to include multiple award-winning vitolas and a cult following, including that of the exclusive Saints & Sinners club. Tatuaje cigars can be difficult to find as they are smaller in production scale and are only sold at certain retailers. The Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf is made in Nicaragua with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler. This medium to full bodied cigar lacks the signature spiciness of most Nicaraguan cigars, breaking out of the mold and showcasing how versatile Nicaraguan tobaccos can be. Notes are of chocolate and coffee. With the Minor Case Sherry Cask Finished Rye, the cigar brings out lovely pear notes and a hint of citrus, while the whiskey brings out the feel of cafe au lait in the smoke.
La Gloria Cubana Serie R Esteli Maduro and Michter’s Toasted Barrel Sour Mash Whiskey
The original La Gloria Cubana Cigar Company was founded in Havana.General still produces the brand in the Dominican Republic, but also produces a line in Esteli, Nicaragua, and there’s even a La Gloria Cubana Society, which fans of this cigar can join for exclusive access to information about the brand. This full-strength Toro features a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. There’s a faint pepperiness and a pronounced earthiness with notes of sweet chocolate. Together with the Michter’s Toasted Barrel Sour Mash whiskey the cigar brings out notes of honeyed apples and cinnamon, much like baked apples, with a delightful honeysuckle finish, while the whiskey brings out toasted cedar notes in the cigar.