PCA 2024 Day One Recap

Day one of the Premium Cigar Association Expo was an incredulous start to what is shaping up to be an excellent weekend for tobacco enthusiasts. The Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Hall is an immaculate space with evenly spaced ashtrays, ornate advertisements, and a grand stage where the day’s events kick off. 

When I first entered the lecture hall, the complex blend of boutique flavors of smoke filled the air, tickling the pack of the throat. I walked into the dark lecture hall, where an incredible installment of the “Handmade” docuseries was playing. The documentary concluded with thunderous applause, and it was finally time for the live presentations. 

La Aurora Pairing

Fernando Jimenez opened the second presentation by saying, “Everybody can smoke a cigar, but only connoisseurs know how to smoke a cigar.” With this statement, their much-awaited 120th-anniversary cigar was distributed amongst the crowd with a special treat: their E. Leon Jimenez 110 Anniversario Rum would be paired with this impeccable cigar. 

The Jimenez’ provided an excellent conversation on the art of pairing, and the delicate nature of how we perceive a cigar, a cocktail or anything else. 

“The cigar is not bad… It is not good… It is about the flavor profile,” he eloquently stated as he drew from his cigar and lightly sipped his delectable rum. Jimenez’ presentation continued with Fransico Jimenez describing the idea of “mood and food” when it comes to the tasting of a cigar and how each one of us will have a different smoking experience. He added that each time we smoke, a new experience is likely to unfold as well. 

Overall, this presentation was impeccably well-spoken. The Jimenez’s capability of public speaking and a light peppering of humor revealed La Aurora’s values and the relationship between them and their products. 

Nick Melillo on Connecticut River Valley Tobacco Growing

Nick Melillo of Foundation Cigars provided a university-level lecture on the history of tobacco in the Connecticut River valley. Melillo regaled in the adventures of explorers Adrian Block and General Putnam as he offered the context on the tobacco industry “Along the Great Tidal River” and how the Connecticut Broadleaf and other varieties began to surge in popularity over the 20th century. 

Melillo also explained why he has dedicated so much of his livelihood to cultivating tobacco in Connecticut. He intentionally utilizes the Charter Oak as a symbol of colonial independence and professes that, “… I wanted a brand that paid homage to the Connecticut brands of old.” 

Melillo’s presentation proved that he is a true master of his craft, and in addition to the success of his company, has developed an innate passion as a tobacconist. His dedication to the profession, is just one amazing example of the collective work everybody in the cigar world performs to ensure this artform lives on. 

Padrón Keynote Presentation

“Those who love and create and those who hate and destroy.” George Padron stated quoting his father by way of poet Jose Marti. George’s presentation encapsulated the idea of familial integrity while honoring his father’s legacy. 

George provided anecdotes of his father’s life lessons, stories of growing up, and his personal journey in the cigar business through the direct mentorship of his father. George Padron solidified his passion for the art through his captivating tales of his childhood and the dedication to the family name he learned from an early age. 

He proclaimed that, “Padron was the greatest gift that can ever be given.” As a short documentary commenced on the life of his father and the Padron brand. The film captured the moments that have now become legend, from Mr. Padron himself, detailing his life and times. This was an excellent legacy piece to Mr. Padron’s contributions to the cigar world. 

George closed the presentation by introducing his entire family to the crowd, followed by a standing ovation. The emotional journey, encapsulated by captivating speaking and excellent storytelling, conveyed the familial legacy that will continue to live on.

EP Carrillo Opening Night

The Padron presentation was followed by a brief panel by Ernesto Carrillo, Tim Ozgener, and John Huber, giving way to the opening reception sponsored by Crowned Heads and E.P. Carrillo. The “goodie bag” was one to remember, with incredible selections from EP Carrillo, Crowned Heads, and Ozgener Cigars. A brilliantly glowing stand-alone statue painted the room with the incandescent glow that read “Crowned Heads” and “EP Carrillo.” 

Music, conversation, and delectable smoke filled the air as professionals in the cigar world rekindled old friendships and officially christening the 2024 PCA Expo.