The 2015 IPCPR (International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association) trade show has now come and gone, and with it we’ve learned of what’s to come throughout the next calendar year. This year’s show departed from the Vegas location, which held the last two shows, moving to New Orleans—this has been a hot topic for attendees throughout the year, as the city set a smoking ban into effect earlier in the year. Yes smoking was still allowed in certain areas, but there’s no doubt the ban hampered the event outside the convention hall.
The event itself saw a very similar appearance to years past, most brands sticking to the familiar setup used for the last few years. And as with last year, retailer attendance appeared to be trending downward, with a fair share of brands expressing their distress.
SEE ALSO: Cigar Dojo IPCPR coverage, year-by-year
Trade show trends & notes
This is an important week for the cigar industry, it sets the tone for the following year and best of all, gives fans a peak at the latest and greatest. Here are some of our takeaways and points of interest for this year’s show.
This has been an interesting trend for some time now. And just when you’d think those trendy large ring gauges may be dying down, it appeared these cigars were more outlandish than ever this year! Not only were there plenty of 6 x 60s, but many brands showed “super-sized” cigars, such as Room101’s Big Payback Jaquemate (8 x 80), Leccia’s Luchador El Gringo Frog Splash (4.5 x 70), Asylum 33 (6 x 70), JFR Lunatic (8 x 80 Belicoso), and I feel I have to mention the insane RoMa Craft CroMagnon Femur (10 x 133), though it isn’t actually new for the show, it was front and center in their display.
On the other end of the spectrum, many brands are introducing thinner ring gauges to their lineups, with lanceros being one of the most popular vitolas among enthusiasts. Epic (Maduro Lancero), Illusione (Fume D’Amour Juniperos), D’Crossier (512), Rocky Patel (Twentieth Anniversary), Asylum (Ogre Lancero) and many more.
2014 saw a head-to-head competition between Ecuadorian Connecticut and Mexican San Andrés, with the Mexican taking the overall victory. But for 2015, I’d have to give the nod to the Connecticut. Not only were there many new EC-wrapped cigars, but there were big, heavy-hitting releases, such as the Undercrown Shade and Padrón Dámaso. Others included Quesada Reserva Privada, AJ Fernandez New World Connecticut, Sevillana Reserva (Caldwell’s Iberian Express line), and Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut, among others. There also seemed to be a good amount of habano wrappers on many new releases.
Big Brands “Going Boutique”
Just as with the beer world, the cigar scene has been trending towards boutique for some time now. The big brands are seeing an opportunity to capitalize, or loose out on a growing market. Essentially, these brands are “boutiqueifying” their lineups, offering cigars that appeal to the boutique crowd. The best examples are with Rocky Patel, General, and Altidas.
Rocky began this in 2014 with the Prohibition and Super Ligero; this year they’re showing off the Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes.
Altidas has teemed up with arguably the most successful boutique cigar creator in the industry—Pete Johnson, offering a collaborative new approach to the infamous Henry Clay line, title Henry Clay Tattoo.
General has acquired the Leccia Tobacco brand, as well as owner Sam Leccia, known for creating some of the most exciting and groundbreaking cigars in the industry. This year’s Leccia booth showcased the new Leccia Luchador El Gringo.
Barrel-aging & Cigar Pairings
It was only two years ago that “the next big thing” was fire-cured cigars; and while there are still a few out there, the focus has clearly shifted to barrel-aging and other whiskey and/or beer pairings. Camacho showcased their new American Barrel-Aged cigar front and center at their booth. Drew Estate had some of the new Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve cigars lingering around. Quesada showcased the new 2015 selection of Oktoberfest, as well as the new Oktoberfest Nicaraguan cigars. Perdomo offered the new Perdomo Craft Series, with three different wrapped cigars made to pair with beers of similar densities. Kiln Tobacco introduced the new The Caleanoch cigar, which uses the fire-curing process, only substituting wood fires with peat fire, making for a Scotch-like experience.
Building Core-Line Cigars
In years past, it seemed there were new and exciting releases around every corner, with unique blends, limited editions, and crazy new innovations that gave a revived enthusiasm for the following year. Our impression was that this year brands were focusing on building their core-line cigars and slight variants (wrapper changes, etc.) of their base lines. This isn’t a bad thing really, sometimes too many new releases can convolute your perception of a brand. Of note were brands like Tatuaje, Epic, Drew Estate, My Father, Cubanacan, Crowned Heads, Ashton, and Illusione, among others.
This also tied-in to a perception that there really wasn’t any “the one” cigar, à la Padrón’s 2014 release of the 50th Anniversary Limited Edition “The Hammer”, which held the buzz of IPCPR attendees throughout last year’s show. The closest cigars to reach that same “it factor” would probably be the Padrón Dámaso (their new Connecticut offering) and Altadis’ Henry Clay Tattoo collaboration with Pete Johnson, which stirred up rumblings of a future buyout of Tatuaje by Altadis.
It’s aways fun watching the changing of the guard, as new hot brands emerge to capture the eye of cigar fanatics and providing a peek at the direction the industry may be headed. Noticeable brands that either didn’t exist at last year’s show or grew significantly from year to year include: Warped Cigars, Caldwell Cigars, D’Crossier, Crux Cigars, Foundation Cigar Co., Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, and Espinosa Premium Cigars.
2015 IPCPR Trade Show Photo Gallery
Now that you know our thoughts on the show, take a look at some of the coolest and most interesting cigars from this year’s show.