For the ninth consecutive year, the Cigar Coop brand will be providing coverage of the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) Association Trade Show and Convention. We are proud to be a part of a very small group of media to say that. Our four-part series for the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show has you covered whether you are going to the show or following from home.

IPCPR 2018 Pre-Game – Predictions for the Five Hottest Cigars

This article is usually in the running for most controversial article of the year on Cigar Coop. Once again, for the sixth consecutive year, I make predictions of what the five hottest cigars will be at the IPCPR Trade Show.

One important point is that this list does not reflect the five cigars I want to smoke most at the show. This list does not reflect what I think the five best cigars will be.  It is a set of predictions about which cigars I think will generate a high level of interest among retailers – and could even be ones that sell out quickly based on available supply. This is strictly looked upon from a business point of view.

Cigars to qualify for this list must have a press release issued by the company made available to the collective cigar media in a timely fashion. The press release must have been in Cigar Coop’s hands by 6am Pacific Time on 7/13/18.  The deadline was stretched to allow for late press releases.

This year’s list was probably the most interesting in the six years and it might generate the most controversy – particularly with the connections of the Top 4.

5. Southern Draw Cedrus – The Hogan

There are two constants when it comes to Southern Draw Cigars, the company is going to put out an excellent blend – and there is a message behind the cigar.

For Robert and Sharon Holt’s company, 2017 was a banner year where it was awarded the Cigar Coop Prime Time Award for Small Company of the Year built largely around the incredible success of Rose of Sharon and Jacobs Ladder. Now Southern Draw is ready for its encore – and this time it’s the Cedrus.

The blend is quite intriguing. It features a Besuki-region Indonesian Sumatra wrapper – something Holt hasn’t hasn’t used before. The rest of the blend consists of a Nicaraguan binder and combination of Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers. The messaging is equally intriguing. It’s a tribute to two friends – Phil and Shelly Hogan who were instrumental in helping Southern Draw get off the ground. Hogan is the name of the 5 1/2 x 52 Belicoso Fino viola being released. It is also the name of a Western Red Cedar tree native to the Pacific region of the United States.

Robert Holt goes by the name “Chief Evangelist” and he used a grassroots approach to build his brand. At this year’s trade show, he will tie all of the pieces together by explaining the story of this cigar to attendees at two designated times. Clearly, he is looking to make the Southern Draw booth more than just a place to place orders. This cigar without a doubt will capture the attention of many.

Perhaps this is the most intriguing because of the five cigars on the list, this is the one where the packaging hasn’t been unveiled as of yet.

4. Sin Compromiso by Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

Photo Credit: Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

It’s the fourth trade show for Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, and its the fourth year in a row that Steve Saka‘s company has landed on this list. This year it’s his long-awaited Sin Compromiso release.

One could certainly make the case that last year’s entry Todos Las Dias was one of the cigars that was the talk of the show. The fact that Saka is coming back to the show with another anticipated release makes this cigar an easy contender again.

For Saka, it’s the first box-pressed cigar he has released in his career.  Saka usually worries about his IPCPR releases, and his fears have proven to be false. My perception is that this year Saka seems much more confident about this release, and that will reflect positively on how the brand does.

Finally this is a release expected to be limited in production, and as a result, expect retailers to get their orders in sooner than later.

3. The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No. 142 by Foundation Cigar Company

Photo Credit: Foundation Cigar Company

It’s hard to believe this is the first year that Nicholas Melillo and Foundation Cigar Company have made the list. This isn’t the case of Melillo being overdue to make the list – it’s a testament to how hot his company is right now.

Last year The Wise Man Maduro would miss the deadline for the 2017 Hottest Cigars list. That cigar, along with Saka’s Todos Las Dias, got considerable buzz among attendees. The Wise Man Maduro also went on to become the most dominant cigar on the year-end lists that I’ve seen since I started covering the end of year lists in 2009.

Melillo has a Wise Man Maduro Lancero line extension coming out at this year’s show, it will be The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No 142. It’s a cigar that features a special Connecticut grown Habano wrapper. The original Connecticut Broadleaf Tabernacle was a huge hit – combine that success with The Wise Man and Melillo is prime for a big show with his encore.

2. Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo

Photo Credit: Drew Estate

Other than the Unico Serie releases, it’s been 9 years since there has been a new Liga Privada offering by Drew Estate. With this year Drew Estate marking ten years of the Liga Privada brand, the company has gone all out. One of those cigars comes in at #2 – the Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo.

It’s hard for anyone to beat a Liga Privada this year in terms of what could be the hottest cigar at the trade show. One thing Liga Privada has going for it is that it is also a brand that hasn’t been oversaturated. For the most part, the past ten years has been about the two core Liga Privada blends – the Liga Privada No. 9 (Connecticut Broadleaf) and Liga Privada T52 (American Habano). Even the Unico Serie releases and Liga Privada’s sister brand the Undercrown Maduro have been built using the core tobaccos found in the No. 9 and T52.

With the Drew Estate H99 Connecticut Corojo, it not only satisfies the anticipation for a new Liga Privada, but it showcases Drew Estate’s innovation. This cigar uses a unique Corojo wrapper grown in Connecticut – keeping to Liga Privada’s roots in using Connecticut grown tobaccos.

In most years, this would have probably been the pick of the show, but this is not an ordinary year.

1. Liga Privada – 10 Year Aniversario

Photo Credit: Drew Estate

What would it take to beat a new Liga Privada as the hottest cigar of the show? – another Liga Privada. This year, the hottest cigar will be Drew Estate’s Liga Privada – 10 Year Aniversario.

This one is the official cigar to commemorate ten years of Drew Estate and it looks ahead to the future. While the Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo uses a special Connecticut grown Corojo leaf, the Liga Privada – 10 Year Aniversario uses a Connecticut grown Criollo leaf wrapper.

In most cases, if there was a Corojo vs Criollo wrapper contending for the top spot of the hottest cigar, I would pick the Corojo leaf. However, Drew Estate went all out with this one. The presentation and package of the Aniversario are stunning – including a Cola de Pescado head, and Pies Tapado foot. It’s a more limited offering (only 10,000 cigars), so retailers will probably flock to order this cigar.

Drew Estate is perhaps bringing the strongest 1-2 punch in terms of new cigars in a long time. Perhaps Padrón in 2014 with the Padrón 50th Anniversary and Padrón Family Reserve 50 Years is the only 1-2 punch in recent years that rivals it.

Other Installments of the IPCPR Pre-Game Series

Prime Time Episode 57: 2018 Prime Time IPCPR Pre-Game Show
Prime Time Episode 59: 2018 IPCPR Prime Time Pre-Game All Star Media Panel

7/1 Part 1: A Look at This Year’s Trade Show and Convention
7/8 Part 2: The Trends to Watch
7/13 Part 3: Predictions for the Five Hottest Cigars
7/14 Part 4: Around the Show Floor