We attended The Big Smoke this year and it was an experience to say the least. What is The Big Smoke you ask? Well, The Big Smoke is an annual gathering of cigar lovers from around the world sponsored by Cigar Aficionado Magazine. They usually sponsor two events, one in Las Vegas and the other in Florida. The Florida venue is also combined with a Whiskey Event.
This year’s Vegas event was held in the Resort World Hotel and Casino. It is the newest hotel/casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Very nice facility. You can really see the Asian influence in the design, architecture and food choices. We didn’t stay the weekend at the event hotel (prices were a little outrageous for the weekend) but decided to stay at one of our favorite places and take a cab. You can get just about anywhere in Vegas for about a $12-$20 cab ride.
You can purchase different levels of access to the event. Each have their own price levels based on what you want to do. We decided to do the VIP access. My thoughts are if you are going to do an event (especially if you only plan to do it once) why not go big (or semi-big)? The VIP access allowed us to get into the event before the General ticket holders, and there were a lot of those, so this allowed us to get into the event and move around to check out our landscape without a lot of people.
Friday, Day One
Upon arrival to our VIP line, we were handed two ticket books each. These ticket books allowed each participant to get two cigars from each vendor. Since my wife went with me and only will smoke a small cigar on rarity, that meant I was getting 4 cigars per vendor. SWEET! That equated to about 120 cigars for the night. Just the cost of that many cigars takes the sting out of the cost of attending the event. We quickly learned from patrons who attend the event religiously every year, that putting the coupons together for each booth makes it a little easier once you are inside.
Once inside, we were greeted by hosts and wide-open tent structures for the event. There were about 3 of these huge tents which allowed for plenty of vendors and tables/chairs for the guests. People made a mad dash for those expensive cigar vendors or their favorite brand. Either way there was plenty of time to visit each booth without a lot of rush. All it really took was to get in one of the lines which fed 10-15 vendors, so patience was the goal. Everyone was patient and polite so overall it was a nice and fun experience. In between getting our cigars (which was my priority) we sampled the great food on hand (free) and some of the best Tequila and Rums. All were free of charge and part of the event admission costs.
Saturday, Day Two
The day started with seminars all morning. The room was packed! Speakers included some of the leading cigar makers, Tabacco growers and Scotch makers. Of course, we received even more cigars as we entered the venue. These cigars were the Cigars of the Year from previous years and some that haven’t even been released to the public yet. Throughout the morning we also had a chance to try 5 different types of Dewar’s Scotch and Cigar pairings. It was a lot of fun and met a lot of nice people along the way. We finished up the morning with a nice steak lunch provided by Oliva Cigars. After lunch, people were free to wonder around. We decided to head out and try out luck at the casino.
Later that afternoon, VIP guests were invited to the Eight Cigar Bar located in the Resort World Casino. Again, were handed a nice Cigar upon our entrance. Old Fashioned drinks were on hand as well along with good company. Got to spend some time talking to the Dewar’s Scotch representatives that presented during our seminars. Nice guys and we had a lot of fun talking
about different cigars and the scotch business.
That evening another round of folks stood in line to once again enjoy what the vendors had to offer. We pass on this second round and just enjoyed our last night in town.
Overall if was a great event and highly recommend going at some point if Cigars are your thing. There were a lot of couples and guy groups who attended and I’m sure a few singles. Not sure if we will do it again or not, but it sure was a lot of fun! I might have to go again at some point with the guys if I can get everyone together.