The three top days of the year for cigar smokers lucky enough to attend! Christopher and I spent Sunday through today at the RTDA which was held at the George R. Brown Convention Center here in Houston. Sunday started out pretty hectic with security not knowing who to let in when, but it all got sorted out pretty quickly. We went by and saw several friends that we had made from the convention in New Orleans in 2005. Our first visit was to Altadis, where they fixed us up with some great cigars and gave us tickets to their reception that night!! Only problem with that was, the cigars were so good, we couldn’t put them down … kinda defeats the purpose – chatting with wholesalers when you won’t put down the cigar you are smoking to try theirs!!
After Altadis, we ran by Ghurka, one of my favorite cigars (if only I could afford them…) We grabbed some samples and found out about their G3’s – triple ligero!! After that we made our rounds to some of the smaller booths – tried some peruvian cigars (so so…). Lunch was at the convention and was nothing special – except the chance to sit down with friends. That afternoon, we went by Perdomo’s. They have some of the best cigars in the world (IMHO). After visiting there and smoking a sample, we went to visit THE company that makes THE best cigars in the world – Tabacalera Tropical – makers of Mombacho… an excellent triple ligero cigar – not for the faint of heart! I tried one of the JFR (Just for Retailers) line and fell in love. I think that will be my "everyday" cigar – not that I smoke every day, but…. you get the idea.
After the show ended, we headed over to the parties and had a great time!! Lots of food, some Montecristo cigars and a few pictures. Got home plenty early because I had a meeting at work on Monday.
Monday, I skipped out and missed the CAO party, which I heard was wild as usual. On Tuesday, Christopher and I went to the range at 6:30, had breakfast, and finally made it to the convention center around 10:30. We picked up an Avo Cigar, and actually, got to watch Avo Uvezian play a few songs, while we sat and smoked. After that we talked with the owner of Vigilante Cigars and tried a sample. I have to say.. the quality on his cigars has increased an impressive amount. After that we ran into what could be the find of the convention…. Avalon Cigars. Both owners were there and turned out to be a couple of characters. Tom Ramsey used to be an investment banker (and frankly looks like it :)) – His partner, Gary Hilton, looks like he came straight out of Miami Vice! The two of them were very knowledgeable about their product line and personable folks. What struck me was the third fellow at the booth. I forget his name, but his full time job was as a pathologist. He just liked the cigars so much, he asked to come out and help sell them. Loyalty like that is worth investigating. I tried their premiere line and it was very good (takes more than one cigar to make a convert out of me — unless of course that cigar is a mombacho ) What really struck me was their Juke Blue line. The cigars have a nice heft to them and when lit, are reminiscent of a backyard barbecue rather than a strong cigar. The line was not ready for release, but I was intrigued to try a box when they come out. I will report back – I am pretty positive that it will be good! After meeting our new friends at Avalon, we went by Battleground Cigars (the Mysterioso being my second favorite cigar and #1 favorite wrapper!!!) After a sample from them, we walked for a few more hours, had lunch, then retired to the Xino (sp) bar for an espresso and final cigar of the day. Got home in time to take the girls to work out at the YMCA!
All in all, I did not get to spend as much time as I would like, but the pace was relaxing, got a few good sample, got to see old friends, make new ones, and eat some good food. Many thanks to the RTDA and all of the gracious wholesalers!