Cigar smoking, despite any new regulations pending, is on the rise. The reasons? It is an activity you can do with friends that encourage conversation and comradery. In the case of golf, it can be done on the golf course.
It is no wonder that events like the Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival, held at the Omni Interlocken Resort/Golf Club just outside of Denver on August 20th, has added both festival goers and vendors each year. In just four years, the festival has gone from 1100 to over 2100 attendees, and that was capped due to space constraints. Vendors for the 110 booths come from 38 states and 27 foreign countries and cover everything cigar to adult beverages, lifestyle products, and dining. Admission tickets include simple entry, VIP and Super VIP. Each level of ticket has its’ own perks including cigars, lighters and other goodies. And each cigar vendor packages special cigars for sale during the one day event.
Cigars are the festival focus, and each manufacturer has a different angle on the stogie to appear to an increasingly diverse and sophisticated market. Cornelius & Anthony was one of the few American produced cigar companies at the festival. Steven Bailey’s family has been growing tobacco in Virginia since the 1860s. Their cigars demonstrate that an American cigar can appeal and develop a loyal aficionado following, especially with a product like the Cornelius.
La Flor Dominicana is a meticulous cigar company as they control all facets of the cigar from growing to manufacture and packaging. Their intent is to bring a premium cigar that is always the same smoke because of the consistent process. For the 1994 cigar, they set aside tobacco for years in anticipation of this very special blend to commemorate their 20th-anniversary cigar. Their 1994 cigar has complex flavors that originate from the superb fillers and binder grown on their farm in the Dominican Republic. Cigars need a wrapper, and this one gets a sweet and savory Mexican San Andrés wrapper.
Accessories for cigar smokers are always interesting from Lotus. Their torch lighters are efficient and elegant, yet in cutters, they might have the latest and greatest. Enter the Jaws Serrated cigar cutter with serrated edges on the cutting surface, which grabs the cigar for a cleaner cut. The Jaws has been so successful; Lotus is likely going to place the technology in all their cutters.
Oliva Cigars remain wildly popular because they provide low-cost premium cigars. Their tobacco mantra is for the consumer to spend the least amount yet get the best products. They do not often introduce new products because they need a reason and want it to be a big deal. Their Oliva Series V Melanio gets a 95 rating, so why change success in cigars that are all under $14?
If you can turn your hobby into your business, then success has been achieved, and so it is for John Way of City Star Brewing. Located in Berthoud, Colorado this bustling brewery just celebrated their four-year anniversary. Moreover, they did it with award winners all brewed to style. Just this year, their All American IPA won the silver medal.
Some cigars do not try to innovate unless they have a vision and theme, and that is the case with the Quesada Cigars operation in the Dominican Republic. With their cigars, you can get either tradition or innovation. The most recent example is they might be the first cigar company to offer a special cigar for Oktoberfest, which parallels the craft beer explosion.
Take 100% sugar, start the still and you have some superb Colorado moonshine from the 3Hunrdred Days of Shine Distillery. Just celebrating their second year, this operation is in Monument, just south of Denver. Their flavors include Apple Pie, Margarita Moon, Summertime Strawberry Lemonade, Firebomb, Peach Cobbler, and Colorado Honey.
Move over Mr. Potato Head, as Gorgeous Vodka is distilled in Montana from select potatoes. While the regular vodka is stellar and has a unique flavor, what sets this apart is one that was developed to pair with cigars. Enter the Cranberry Tea Vodka, which has just the right blend of sour, sweet and tea to pair well with any cigar.
Al Capone is a premium cigarillo that is carefully rolled for a long smoke for a shorter stick. Rolled in Honduras, it is infused with either cognac or rum flavors. This fills a market niche for the smoker who wants some character and something that doesn’t take two hours. However, due to popular demand, Al and the crew released the Big Stick last year to rave reviews.
The festival also highlights the venue and nearby options. The Omni Interlocken Hotel and Resort is a nifty facility with meeting rooms, conference facilities, spa, extensive pools, and restaurants. The Omni Golf Club offers three distinct nine-hole courses best described as a mounded links experience that follows the gentle hills.
Get off the property and festival grounds, and easily the most exciting new restaurant in the area is Kachina Southwestern Grill. This is southwestern dining that is inventive and taste-vetted before it ever hits the plate. The Controlled Burn Margarita will get the evening lit, while the smoked Bison Meatloaf rumbles with flavor and the Rajas & Calabacitas Enchilada proves a vegetarian dish can be meat-like hearty.