Put it in the history book Abe!
The Great Smoke 2018 is over and the main event was by far the largest ever. For something that started in the parking lot of a Smoke Inn cigar shop, this year was held in a pavilion at the south Florida fair grounds. The Great Smoke has been conducted for 12 straight years and in my opinion, the best cigar event in the state of Florida. This years event included 45 premium cigars that crossed the spectrum of huge names like Padron, Rocky Patel, Arturo Fuente, and H. Upmann to midsize brands such as Espinosa, Perdomo, CLE, to smaller boutique brands including MLB Cigar Ventures, Moya Ruiz, and Oscar Valladeros.
There were two different passes; the V.I.P. ($225.00) that got you into the event 1 hour early, at 12 Noon, and the Base ($150.00) which is the one I purchased for the event. The V.I.P. also got you preferred parking and access to the V.I.P. lounge area where they had a spirits lounge and a food buffet. I spoke to some V.I.P. attendees and they felt it was worth the extra cost but they did mention that the parking had some kinks in it. Abe was aware of the issue and noted that this was a new venue and he too was learning the process – you can be assured that next years event will have any kinks ironed out.
Regardless of the ticket you still got access to all the cigar vendors and the complete food court and outstanding selection of whiskey tastings. Everything was included in the ticket cost. In lieu of a band for entertainment, Abe opted for a D.J. this year which was fine for me.
Let’s take a walk around the Great Smoke 2018.
The Cigar Brands
The Cigar Fans
When I spoke to the cigar vendors I was informed they handed out over a 1,000 cigars so let’s put the attendance number at that. That is a huge turn-out for a 4-5 hour event and I can say everyone in attendance was having a splendid afternoon. We even had a Sasquatch sighting hanging out with the Bacon Man, the Godfadr Fred Rewey.
Here is a gallery of the smokey jubilant faces at the Great Smoke 2018
Of course these happy faces may have been a result of some of the fine spirits we were sampling throughout the day. One of the most unique whiskey drams I sampled was this smooth and tasty single malt from France that is been on the market for about three years and is a young 7-year old single malt. This whiskey is harvested, distilled, matured and bottled in Cognac,France and finished in a Cognac barrels. You can expect full of fruity and complex-sugar notes; like rich creme brûlée, burnt caramel, bananas, tropical fruits and warm spices like cinnamon and clove.
Of course there was more to taste such as these beauties and many more!
The ACID Lounge
What is a cigar party without a little ACID fun. Thanks to Drew Estate for bringing out the mobile ACID lounge to the event. Entrance was limited to ages 21 and over and IDs were checked because they were not only selling blue ACID, but also handing out samples of the the new Drew Brands Rye, Rum, and Mash. The mobile lounge comes complete with a D.J. and the famed ACID girls.
Yes this is a cigar herf party and like all great cigar events there has to be raffle prizes. Your entry to the event got you one raffle ticket and you could buy more and get more if you visited some of the other vendor booths. One of the big prizes was a framed collection of every Super Bowl ticket from Super Bowl I to Super Bowl LI. This was a great prize for any NFL fan but especially if you were a Patriots fan as it ended with Super Bowl LI – the great comeback game. This was valued at around $1,000.
In all there were 29 prizes including a large screen LG TV.
Spearmint Rhino After Party
Ok, I can’t say much about this event other than those that attended all seemed to have fun. The party was sponsored by Recluse Cigars and admission to the club was free with your Great Smoke 2018 pass. Recluse set up a bottle table and drinks were free until the bottles were empty and everyone in attendance received a Recluse Cigar to enjoy while they enjoyed the dancers and comradery.
I will say, I spoke to Scott Weeks from Recluse Cigars at the event and asked him what if anything is new with Iconic Cigars and Recluse for this year. He informed that there is a secret project in works and they plan to unveil it at this years IPCPR in Las Vegas in July. So keep an eye out for that news.
All I can say is, what happened at Spearmint Rhino stayed in Spearmint Rhino.
The event included vendors that went beyond cigars and spirits. There was also some interesting new products being marketed. Here are two cool products we saw.
First was Infinity Odor Shield “The Blast” cigar deodorizer spray.This product is the first to introduce a proprietary, patent-pending, Hyper Green® formula. Infinity is water based safe, non-toxic and hypoallergenic. I will bee reviewing this product soon on Stogie Press but I can say I fired up a few smokes on my trip down and back to the Great Smoke and then used this spray when I got home. Two sprays in car and the next morning the car smelled clean and odor free. I will do a more detailed evaluation.
The second interesting product was the CigarzLip – a new device that wraps around you beer bottle or drink glass and has a clip to hold your cigar, just in case you don’t have an ashtray nearby. This might make for a fun birthday gift or holiday present for your favorite cigar enthusiast.
I want to applaud Abe and his whole crew from Smoke Inn for pulling off another amazing cigar event. Every year the Great Smoke gets better and better and this year was by far the best. I noticed a few folks at the event that had badges around their neck dating back to the original, 12 years ago. The price of this event is worth every cent for all that you get and I will see you all again at the Great Smoke 2019!!