CCP 050 | Camacho Powerband
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The re-release of the 2011 Tatuaje ushered a new blend but using the same size with the Tatuaje TAA 2016. It’s a comfortable box press that turns the pepper flavor on all the way. This Nicaraguan cigar powerhouse glitters with a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper. Another new blend is the Camacho Powerband, and with its suggestive name, you’d expect it to be strong and with a good start. Fifteen new blends from several companies are also expected to show up in this year’s IPCPR. The reason for the above average release is so when the FDA regulations come down everything released before August can stay in the market.

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Cigar Cafe Radio Tatuaje TAA 2016 | Camacho Powerband | IPCPR 2016

I’m Lane and I’m hanging out here with Harris. Sean is having some technical difficulties so it’s just the two of us. What’s up, Harris?

We got to talk about Sean.

He claimed that Christian Eiroa is too good looking for our show. I feel like he has been talking a little smack about us.

What are you smoking?

I grabbed the TAA2016 release from Tatuaje, Pete Johnson’s annual TAA stick. It is turned all the way up, immediate pepper, a nice sheen on the wrapper. It’s almost glittery on the seams and stuff. It’s a definite powerhouse Nicaraguan cigar with a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper on it. What’d you light up?

I just lit up the new Camacho Powerband Robusto. I have not smoked the cigar yet. It’s a brand-new release from Camacho that I believe either has just started shipping or is about to ship. This was a sample.

CCP 050 | Camacho Powerband
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Camacho Powerband: The Camacho Powerband Robusto is a brand new release from Camacho.

Is that like a devil silhouette on the band there that it’s got? That’s what I thought, but no, it just looks like it’s a V. That would be fun though.

It’s a whole new blend family for Camacho. I’m interested to try it though. I don’t know a ton about it yet. We don’t have these in the store. It’s starting off pretty medium body. I expected it to be strong just from the name Powerband, but it’s off to a good start.

This one is definitely not medium. I had gone back and forth with this Oliva Cameroon, and then decided, “The TAA 2016 is here. You got to smoke them in Mexico a couple months ago so I’m going to smoke one now.”

I liked the size of that one, a slightly smaller ring gauge than last year’s, about an inch longer.

It’s a 6.25×50 ring gauge. It’s box-pressed. From what I understand, this is the same blend and the same size that the Tatuaje did in 2012 for their TAA release.

In 2012, that was one of the most popular sizes ever. Probably the ‘11 and ’12, which the 2011 was re-released last year.

It’s a nice comfortable box-pressed Toro.

They came in several months early this year mainly because of the new FDA regulations. If it wasn’t shipped by August 8th, they would have big problems.

They’ll have paperwork to fill out.

If it’s not shipped by then it would have to go through the full FDA review process. They probably wouldn’t even be able to ship it for another year.

We’ve finally seen the first indications of lawsuits arising from the FDA regulation that’s coming down.

Most cigar company out of Florida, I believe, has launched a lawsuit. There’s at least one vape company. There was a press release that said that IPCPR, CRA and CAA were preparing a lawsuit that would be filed before the trade show.

Are you still looking to replace one of your employees at this point or has that already happened?

We had a couple of the guys leave lately to take jobs as reps or just other jobs, all for good reasons. We’re happy for them. We have a new guy now. Wes is his name and he’s doing well. He’s been working in between the four stores.

Get exposed to Big Foot and to Gary.

Yeah, how each store’s a little different. It’s been good. I’m off my tour of the stores. I’ve been filling in for the last month or two a lot.

You’ve been stretched a little thin.

It’s good. I’m catching back up on some of the other things. It’s good though. I always like doing it.

With IPCPR, what are you looking forward to getting out of the trade show this year?

I’m interested to see if things are different or if they’re the same with all the FDA things coming out. Does that get more people to come? Is it the same? You hear a little bit of everything so I don’t know. There are some really good seminars. Any store owner definitely should be going, if they can, some very in-depth FDA seminars. They’ll be talking about their lawsuit. If you’re part of the state association, which hopefully, everybody is, we normally have our annual meeting there too, where they break everybody up by state. I’m excited to see what new blends there are. I’ve heard several companies that are planning to release ten to fifteen new blends each, which is way above average. Normally, they’d have maybe two or three at the most. There’s the big rush to get things out before the FDA, August 8th. Anything released before August 8th can stay on the market during the review process. As of right now, they’d have to go through the review process before they can launch. The hope is that one of these lawsuits will get an injunction to put all that on hold. There are a lot of unknowns right now.

CCP 050 | Camacho Powerband
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Camacho Powerband: Several companies are planning to release ten to fifteen new blends each, which is way above average.

Supposedly, you can’t really count on Congress to do anything right now. They’re busy.

Maybe they will at some point. The language is still in the Appropriations Bill, which is positive. That has a long way to wind its way. It’s basically made it through the House is my understanding, but it has to go through the same process in the Senate, and then they have to reconcile the bills together. There are several opportunities where it could get stripped out. It survived one or two of those so far. Most people think we don’t know anything on that until maybe the end of the year.

We’ll have at least a few months of some mayhem before we really know what’s going on.

The good thing is most of the cigarette companies are going to get everything launched now. There won’t be a gap of nothing coming out.

It will be in that moratorium phase for the next couple of years while all that gets worked out.

The hard thing for manufacturers is normally they take a lot of orders that the IPCPR and then don’t ship the cigars until October and November. They don’t quite have all the boxes ready. There’s been a huge push on those guys that if they have not started shipping it by August 8th,they can’t. They’re in panic mode trying to get labels and maybe get boxes made because that’s what holds it up.

Their self-imposed or an FDA-imposed end of the year in the middle of the year.

They’ll probably ship some prototype stuff. It may not be that they ship everything now, but as long as they ship some of it, that’s probably what will happen. They’ll ship a little bit now and the rest later in the year. It will be interesting to see. It’d be a very different trade show than in the past.

Are there any blends that you’ve heard about that you’re specifically excited about?

Several companies have started launching things now ahead of the show. This new Camacho Powerband is shipping now. There’s been a big trend in the last year or two for companies to go ahead and release before the show. They try to get stores to spend their money ahead of time. We’re already starting to see some new things.

That gives the retailers a chance to gauge the man before the show. They get to revisit it when they’re at the show. They already have some idea of how it’s doing with their customer base.

It’s helpful, at least, to know what people think about it. A lot of times you’re going in blind with these new blends. They’ll have samples, but a lot of times the samples aren’t the same as the regular production because it’s not part of that production. Maybe you smoked ten cigars already that day. It’s hard to get a good feel for what’s something taste like.

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Camacho Powerband: A lot of times the samples aren’t the same as the regular production because it’s not part of that production.

I feel like I smoked ten cigars a day over the 4th of July weekend.

I saw you.

I smoked about ten cigars in about two days.

Is that your pre-IPCPR training?

Allegedly, yes. I’m probably not going to smoke anymore for a couple of weeks just to give my palate a chance to reboot before I attack the trade show floor.

That’s probably a good idea, have a little break. Definitely there’ll be lots of samples. Steve Saka’s company has a new blend coming out. Nick Melillo also, a former master blender from Drew Estate. He blended Liga Privada and several others of their bestsellers. He has a new blend coming out called the Upsetters. I was reading about that. There’s lots of news coming out, tons of new blends. There will be a lot of new blends anyway, but I think the FDA, there’s just even more.

It’s driving up the pressure to get them out.

A lot of these I don’t know a lot about. We haven’t got samples yet. We just don’t know a lot about it yet. I haven’t tried this one, but Davidoff has a new blend coming out under their Black Label line. They’re hush-hush about it, but those are always incredible.

Davidoff has got a big dinner the Tuesday night during the IPCPR.

Yes, the Golden Band Awards.

They’re doing scotch tasting and all sorts of stuff that night.

In Vegas, they have a Davidoff of Geneva cigar bar too. They’re doing a launch party that is open to all of IPCPR. They’re doing that the night before the Golden Bands. That’s where they’re doing the scotch tasting. That’s like the launch of the new blend, a big thing at their cigar bar. The next night, the Golden Band Awards. They make it like the Oscars with some black tie in The Venetian ballroom. It’s a five-star event and the dancing afterwards.

Thank you, Garrett for giving me a ticket to that. I was a little worried about how much it was going to cost to rent a tux in Vegas at first. I was like, “I bet it’s expensive to rent a tux there.”Then I got to thinking, I was like, “There probably 7,000 places to rent a tux in Vegas and they’re probably $12.”

Did you ever found out?

Yeah. I can get a basic tux for about $45.

Are you serious? That’s like half of what it is in Birmingham. $45? There are so many black tie events.

You still have to deal with the shirt and stuff like that, but yeah, the tux rental itself is like $45.

That’s very reasonable. That’s much easier probably than trying to take one out there.

Indeed. You’re still going to get your measurements locally and everything and call in a reservation, but it is much less expensive than I thought it might have been at first. My wife is very amused that they’re going to be pictures of me in a tux. I didn’t even wear a tux to my wedding.

I don’t know how many people are even there. It’s a big crowd. It’s probably 400 or 500 people. They always have some type of unique entertainment. I have no idea what it’ll be this year, but it’s always something that you would’ve never thought of that is really cool. One year, they had this group. It was all girls playing violins and it was all songs that you knew. While they’re playing, you know the song. It’s like cover songs and they’re so good. They are just so talented. Last year, they did this thing in New Orleans where it was strange. You stood in line and these people had like masks on. They will look at you and they would write a description of you without ever talking to you, just looking at you and they will read your face. I’ve never seen anything like it. For the most part, they’re pretty accurate. It’s just bizarre. It’d be interesting to see what they come up with for this year.

I guess when everybody dressed up and fancy, the number of offensive things they have to say about you probably are kept to a minimum.

They were pretty blunt. They don’t hold anything back.

They’d sit down next to me and say, “You have body by bacon.”

That’d be interesting. It’s definitely probably the top event at IPCPR. You have to be a Davidoff-appointed merchant store to be invited. They make it a big deal. They give out awards, the Golden Band Awards for best merchandising, top single store sales, top chain store sales, industry service award. Just about seven or eight things they give out.

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Camacho Powerband: At IPCPR, you have to be a Davidoff-appointed merchant store to be invited.

I don’t know. I felt like it was a fluff blog piece the other day on the, but some days I get to idle mode wearing my cigar smoking hard on my sleeve. I wanted to say thank you to the show sponsors and to you and Sean about this even happening. This is my first IPCPR and I’m looking forward to it. I don’t really know what to expect other than a Trade Show floor and like you said, smoking ten cigars a day, but my wife has never been anywhere out West, past Missouri.

It’s so different there. It’s like being on a different planet.

We’re going up a couple of days early and we’ll stay in Treasure Island. She gets a couple of days to hang out. We’re talking about going to see the Cirque du Soleil Mystère Show, which is at Treasure Island. It’s something she’s always wanted to do, to see Cirque du Soleil.

That’s really cool she’s going to be able to go.

Yeah, I agree. She’s never been up there. She’s never seen the Pacific. She kept talking about, “No, I’m not going to go.”Then for the last four or five weeks, it’s, “I’m mad you’re getting to go to Vegas.”Now, she does get to go to Vegas. It was worth extending the trip for her to get to experience some of it too, even if she’s not going to be there during the show. She gets on a plane, 1:30 or something, the day the Trade Show starts. She’ll come home.

To me, now with the trade show being there regularly, I had been to Vegas several times, it really is amazing how much stuff there is out there. You can just walk around and look at the casinos and never gamble. It’s so amazing how nice they are and there are so many different ones. You can go see the Hoover Dam or out in the desert or golf. There are tons of golf courses. It’s just amazing how much is out there. She’ll enjoy just seeing everything. It will be very hot. Low humidity, but very hot.

She’s talked recently about how we like to try and go on some sort of international trip as long as we can, once a year or something like that. There’s so much of the US that she hasn’t seen. We’ve talked about Vegas and the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls. Even though we’d been to Italy and the Caribbean, she’s never seen some of that.

It’s amazing how much there is. I haven’t traveled as much internationally, but around the US, I have spent a lot of time out West.

You lived in California.

I lived in Northern California for a while. When I was there, we drove all over the place, up and down the coast. My suggestion would be, I love California, you can go to Napa and Sonoma and Yosemite is right there and Lake Tahoe. All those things are within a few hours of each other. You can drive to all of them. It’s amazing.

I have a couple of friends who grew up here and they used to live down the road in Mount Laurel. A couple of years ago, they sold their house and decided, “We’re going to shed everything and we’re going to go buy a starter home out in Sacramento. We’re just going to go live in California.” They talked all the time about how within an hour and a half drive, they’ve got a hundred national parks.

It really is unbelievable. My dad gives me a hard time all the time about how he’s surprised that I ever came back because I love it out there. You have so much outdoor stuff, hiking, rafting, skiing. There’s just so much. You have bigger cities too like San Francisco. It’s just very cool.

Their weekend trip at this point is just to drive up the road to Tahoe.

It’s like an hour, an hour and a half. When I lived out there, every weekend we’d pull out the map. I was in far Northwest corner, up in Oregon. We drove to Portland, drove to Seattle. We go to Mount Shasta a lot. That was only an hour away. You can do all kinds of things there from mountaineering to skiing to just hiking. My suggestion would be on one of your trips, going out there and just rent a car and driving around.

What is that, the Pacific Coast Highway?

Yeah, Highway One. You won’t drive very fast, but it’s just so beautiful. I love it. My wife and I went out there a few years ago because she had never been to California. We’re just bringing a car and just drove. Mostly San Francisco and North was where we were. We didn’t go to Yosemite. We didn’t have enough time.

I want to save as much time if I was out that way. I was in San Jose speaking at some IT conference. It was probably 2006 or 2007. It’s been awhile.

I think she would like it. It’s so different from the Eastern US.I highly recommend it for sure. I’m excited about Vegas. This can be a lot of fun. I’ve been getting all the invites for all these events at night. JC Newman and the owner of Diamond Crown are doing a big launch party of the Diamond Crown Black Series. That’s what we smoked when Bobby was on the show. They’re doing a big thing. Davidoff has their big launch, the Golden Band Awards. Ashton will have a dinner. It’s interesting that there used to be some really big event. Now, they’re a little smaller, but they’re good ones though.

They’re tailored to the fan boys or everybody.

The trend has been that it used to be there were some bigger events that are open to everyone. Now, some of them are a little smaller but they’re tailored to the retailers that are supporting their brand.

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Camacho Powerband: Some events are a little smaller but they’re tailored to the retailers that are supporting their brand.

I’m going to follow you around like a kid in a candy shop except when we we’re working.

It should be a lot of fun. It will be really busy. That’s the only downside to it for me. All the orders and things like that bog things down a little bit, but the rest is lots of fun. You get to see a lot of people that you only see once a year out there, and get all the cigar celebrities there. It’s one time of the year everyone’s in the same place.

There’s been a little bit of a shakeup. Jason Robinett is no longer with CLE. We did a show with them a couple of weeks ago. He’s taken on a new opportunity with the General. I know he said he’s still going to be at IPCPR, but it’ll be interesting to see him wearing a little bit different of a hat.

It’s a big change going from CLE, it’s is probably a mid-sized company now in the cigar world, to Generals, one of the big boys. Top two. We’re excited for him. It seems like a good move. He’s moving to New Orleans. I know he loves New Orleans.

He does love New Orleans. I’ve got some family there, so I’m sure if he wants to keep making fun of me he can continue doing that with other people who will make fun of me.

I’d love to have him on as a Skype guest on the show. I’m sure he’ll still do. He spends a lot of time in our stores in Birmingham. He did a great job of promoting his brands and hanging out with customers and all that. We always hate it when we lose somebody like him who has done such a great job. You never know how the next person that takes his place will do. There’s always a learning curve of getting into the swing of things.

I guess CLE is looking to hire a rep to replace him rather than chopping up coverage territory.

They said they may adjust territory some, but no matter what, they’re going to be bringing in. another person. They probably won’t be based in Birmingham, which stinks for us because any rep that’s based here shows up a lot. They’re around a lot more, take a little more ownership in it. I’m sure they’ll find someone good. Maybe you should hit the road, Lane, become a cigar rep. It’s hard being a cigar rep. You have to travel a lot. These guys are on the road constantly.

I like traveling a lot but traveling for work is different. I want to check into the Best Western.

Grab about 60,000 miles a year just for the work part.

It helps out on taxes though.

It helps. I’d be interested to see if attendance is up. They kicked around all these ideas about maybe adding a day where consumers could come and see everything. They’ve bailed on all those ideas.

Still internet media and retailers only?

They’re very strict, employees of stores. We get three badges per membership.

Is your dad coming?

He’s up in the air. He said it’ll be a last-minute decision. I mean he has a ticket booked and everything, but my mom is going through chemo treatments. She’s been doing really well. Assuming she’s still doing well, then he probably will make it, but we’ll see. It always helps if he’s there. He’s the one who keeps us on track logistically, like schedule-wise. The biggest problem with IPCPR is it’s three and a half days of actual show time, but there’s so many booths and there’s always so many new cigar companies and so many new blends. You can’t get around and see everything. You have so many vendors you need to see. I feel like we run out of time every year. Hopefully, he will be able to go.

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Camacho Powerband: The biggest problem with IPCPR is it’s three and a half days of actual show time, but there’s so many booths and there’s always so many new cigar companies and blends.

You’re flying in late morning, the day of the show starts?

The day of the seminars. They have one day of seminars, and then the actual show starts the next morning. In the morning, they’re having a long seminar for manufacturers that’s FDA-specific. I won’t make it to that one, but I should make it to the rest of them. Then late in the day, they are having an FDA seminar for retailers. In between, they have speakers, sales retail training speaker. Those are always very good. It’ll be busy. I’ll get there right before all that starts. You’re not going to fly out right after the show ends on the West.

It’s the last flight out that we can get home the same day.

They’re doing something different this year. They’re going be drawing for $10,000if you stayed to the end. I was like, “That’s good motivation to stay.” Normally, by the end there’s no one there. It’s a ghost town. It’s like me and my dad running around because we still haven’t finished, but nobody’s there. I wonder if that will entice people to stay. It seems like pretty good incentive.

Especially with my convention luck lately. I won that ridiculous computer. If I can get it to hold off for one more show, it could be real good.

That would be amazing.

I know we’re going to Dominican Republic. Let’s go to St Lucia too.

I’m excited about it. It’ll be good. You’ll be blown away by just how much stuff is there.

I gloat a little bit the other day when the IPCPR staff re-tweeted that blog article. They were looking to follow my first impressions as a first-time attendee.

I saw that. That was pretty cool.

I was like, “That’s awesome.”

They are really interested. This is my ninth or tenth time to go, but I remember that first trip. It’s a different perspective. I’m sure they’ll be excited to hear your thoughts.

I’m excited to have the thoughts.

That’d be helpful because you’ll be able to go check out a lot of the new and obscure things that sometimes I don’t make it to. It will be good. I feel like we should say something bad about Sean before we wrap up, but I can’t think of anything.

Maybe his internet will work next week when I’m in here and not smoking.

Sean and I had a planning call about how we should do a show that’s a based-on gas station cigars. Go get a ton of them and try them.

I haven’t been plugged in on this conversation at all, but I was sitting around thinking a couple of days ago. I was already thinking about smoking this TAA2016, but I also thought, “I haven’t spoken ACID in forever.” I thought about smoking something completely different than I would normally never light up. A gas stations cigar would qualify for that. That’s not something that I normally think of.

Sour Apple, White Owl cigars.

Publix has those types of cigars. You can walk up to the champagne counter and everything and get a five-pack for $8.

It would be fun. This Camacho Powerband has turned out to be much more of the smooth medium than I expected. The beginning was mellow then it got a little spicy for just a little bit. Now, it’s very smooth. I expect it to be full body in your face, but it’s not. It’s good. I like it.

I’ll say that about this one. This one started out very strong, very full flavored. It’s either killed my taste buds or it’s mellowed out in the last half of it. I’ve got like an inch and a half left of it, and it’s no longer tough to smoke. This is like La Flor Dominicana Double Claro strength. This is a strong-hitting stick up front, but it’s mellowed out.

Stay tuned for more info on IPCPR.

Indeed, and a weird episode next week where I don’t smoke.

We’ll think of something to do. See you next week.

See you, Harris.

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