It’s been called the super bowl of premium tobacco, the CES, the E3, the … insert the biggest trade show in said industry and you have it. IPCPR or International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers 83rd Annual Convention and Trade Show (say that 3 times fast) is where the industry meets and your local tobacconists come to buy cigars, pipes, and pipe tobacco. Not only that, many use the opportunity to drum up press about their brands and release new products. Unfortunately for most of you, dear readers, it is not open to the public. But retailers and press are allowed in, so I am able to report to you as much as I can about the new and cool things coming out in 2015 and 2016 to your local tobacco store or retailer.
The show is a massive show, if you think about the Chicago Pipe show in size, quadruple it, or maybe more. This year IPCPR was in New Orleans at the New Orleans Convention Center, which takes up 11 blocks and if you walk the whole length you’ll end up racking up over 1km or over ½ a mile.
With a show this large and 95% cigar related, the Pipe and Pipe tobacco booths are diamonds in the rough. I attempted to make my way to the majority of them, but if I missed one or two it wasn’t for lack of trying. In my 2 days there I walked a total of 25 miles.
Enough about how big it is… let’s talk about new stuff! First up I had a chance to sit with Per Jensen of Mac Baren and, aside from Brian Levine (and he doesn’t count) was the first American to try the new blend that is coming out in the 3rd quarter of this year.
Reading the label above you see this is the 4th generation or full recombination of Virginia tobacco and the 6th test to achieve this new blend. PV stands for Pure Virginia. It’s hot pressed and a little bit aged bringing out the sugars and reduced a bit so almost non-existent tongue bite. It is made of bright yellow and red Virginias and with the hot press we have this dark mellow flake.
As Per puts it “The aim is to make a tobacco that is mild and mellow.”
As you make your way towards the middle of the bowl, you get a complex set of flavors; the Virginia “hay flavor,” and then for me, some sweet lemony taste. I will say its one of the mildest Virginias’ I’ve tried in a long while and you do have to get past the initial light then midway through the bowl and you will discover a wonderful subtle surprise.
As for the actual tobacco it is composed of some 2002 and 2004 North Carolina Virginia and some Brazilian Virginias which were combined and then hot-pressed to help age and mellow.
When asked about the next 12-18 months: “Perhaps in the future you’ll see another HH Perique blend, or perhaps another Virginia” with “airquotes” Per said with a wry smile and reminded me that nothing is set in stone but the future looks good.
What are you smoking in your pipe right now? I asked. “I’m smoking this Pure Virginia.”
Next up I had a quick chat with Conor Palmer of Peterson and learned that they are getting ahead of the game and are trying to do like the car industry does here in the US and release new pipes for 2016 in Q4 of 2015 which is great! You can expect 2016 to have a tighter range of products and seeing actual products to consumers on time.
Expect 3 new tins – Founders Choice, Signature Flake, and 1865 Mixture that will be coming out that will feature some Latakia but it will not be a full traditional English blend per say. Additionally the 40 gram pouches Peterson has recently introduced include a new cherry and vanilla that Conor was particularly proud of. You can read about the 40 gram pouches here.
BREAKING: The 2016 pipe of the year will be a straight tall billiard or chimney, with narrow bowl and silver band and fishtail mouth piece. Will be available in smooth, sand blast, and rusticated. Amazingly enough you can expect to see them start to ship October and just like the Founders pipe for 2015 there will be a limited number of 1865 to commemorate the 150 years in business.
The 2016 St. Patrick’s Day pipes will come in 12 shapes with a darker finish and nickle band with an accent. The 2016 St. Patrick’s day tobacco as won’t be a cube cut for 2016, and they also have not finalized what the blend will be. Last years St. Patrick’s Days blend was the fastest selling and best selling launch of special blends for them. As far as what this 2016 tin will be: Maybe a roll cake – they are considering it at least.
Also to note: The silversmith who had worked with Peterson for 52 years David Blake has recently retired and they have a new guy trained up who is doing a fantastic job going forward.
Tobacconist University News
R&D cigars or Research and Development has a new cigar out but the program itself is only a year old. I asked Jorge of Tobacconist University how R&D cigars came about and he said he thought it would be amazing to create products based on the research they are always doing and in so and it forces them to create the content. This years cigar is a Connecticut broad-leaf grown in Pennsylvania. It’s wonderfully smooth, with a hint of spice, I actually got a little jalapeno out of this – which was a shocker. Each cigar comes with the individual leaves to give to the consumers which is an educational package of puro components.
When I asked what the next 18 months looked like, Jorge said they have been working with the Plasencia family. They are working on doing all organic cigars (getting organic certified) so you will be able to sample the closest cigar that the first Europeans would have tried; like what Christopher Columbus would have smoked or as close as we can get to it today.
Vector Pipe Lighters
James Park of Vector has a new pipe lighter that is out with $19.99 price point. It has a long extension that is ideal to light up your bowl or reach down in the bowl. You can adjust the length of the flame extension and comes in 6 different colors. The lighter has a “no proof warranty” which is really a life time warranty. It’s a remake of old classic lighter that they revamped “To make it more user friendly,” said James. ” In the older model, the flame head had a bend in it and that got in the way of a better ignition so now that it’s straight it has perfect ignition.”
New this year is their entry level Briarworks Classic line with 6 different classic English shapes that come at a price point of $79 for blasts and $99 for smooths. They will eventually fill out the entire shape catalog. The classic line is precisely engineered under 100 bucks even for a smooth, nice embellishment, interchangeable mouthpieces saddle or tapered. All of these are also hand finished, thin and comfortable and draw really well. Additionally they will private label these classics.
Some new shapes in the Icarus line: a tapered poker that is a sitter and a straight pot. Neptune line: reverse calabash rhodesian, and a dublin in a reverese calabash and the horn.
Next up, which has only been out a couple months is the magtop calabash with interchangeable bowls and 3 rare earth magnets. You can buy one pipe/gord and then you can dedicate a bowl to a particular blend or type of tobacco. $100 MSRP for the interchangeable tops.
In the Signature series they will have some neat stuff coming – Jody Davis for instance is doing a stemless bulldog. Todd has just finished his asymetrical blowfish. Bill Sholasky is doing “brow burner,” and Pete is doing a long shank pipe.
I briefly chatted with Luca from Savinelli and learned for 2015 – they have 30 year anniversary for the Collection which is a renewal of the very first collection they did. They used a silver plate with 2015 collection on it and it comes in 3 finishes: natural brown, sandblast, and rusticated. If you’re looking at the sandblasts – pay close attention because they blast to show ring grain and chose really amazing quality briar for those blasts.
The Guibileo Oro line for 2015 which are pre-defined shapes and feature a new 3-star classification pipe. A standard Guibileo Oro is generally 1 out of 1000 bowls becomes a pipe but the 3 star classification is 1 out of 20,000 or even 50,000 bowls. Obvious reasons the prices are in the 1k + area and you can expect no flaws, a perfect pipe basically.
New accessories: Called the Side Car and is a Savinelli design in ceramic that is made in Italy. It’s ashtray attached to a ceramic pipe tray. It’s one of the best sellers so far this year.
Chris Tarler of C&D
I had a very quick chat with Chris Tarler on the new C&D blends. Expect a really good Christmas blend called Golden days of yore. There are the 2 new cellar line which you can read about here, and then Shandygaff and Stanhope are out in bulk. In October look for another seasonal blend called Mixture Monster which will be very limited.
On the lighter front at Laudisi there is a new Kiribi lighter out that is a leather wrapped Kubuto.
I stopped by Phil and Pat Morgan’s booth to talk new and they have redesigned their gift boxes to have a nice presentation for a gift for that someone special in your life.
The Cobbit is now out for retailers so they can pick some up to sell in retail shops. So you will see them in your local tobacconist now. I asked how this came about – Phil thought they should come out with some mini and true church wardens and like a bolt of lightning he thought up the name “Cobbit.” They actually had done a church warden pipe many years ago so it felt like a good time to bring this out. They found some vulcanite stems in the 3rd floor of the factory and thought it would be a great use of them.
I asked about the forever stem, and they are a couple weeks out. Also expect to see prices very close to the same or even slightly less.
Anniversary pipe has a lanyard or without lanyard – 35 years of Ascorti pipes.
When I asked the question Erik puts it this way, “We have new all the time! We have some new finishes, some new keystones etc.”
Kund showed me the original artwork for the Hunters series. For those of you not familiar each pipe is made to look like the image of an animal. Nording is continuing this line but the artist is getting on in years and so the artwork has not come out as often as of late. The Hunter line has actually been going on for 20 years.
One of the other new pipe options is some artwork that is a film that has been applied and its heat treated so these thick bowls you shouldn’t have to worry about these bubbling up.
For the 2015 Pipe of the year it is a “redo” of an older model they previously made with new styling and ring – with nice box.
Viparatti – 2015 pipe of the year
Ser Jacapo – 2015 Pipe of the Year
So that’s it , it looks very much like the rest of 2015 and into 2016 the future of pipes looks pretty exciting with some great products and limited edition items coming out.
James Foster goes by the online handle of Pylorns in the forums, and he is the creator of an app for keeping track of your tobacco cellar inventory called The Pipe Tool , serves as the President of the Austin Pipe Club, and is a Certified Salesforce Tobacconist.
What a great summary of the news from the show floor. Thanks, James, for taking the time to pull this together. Congratulations on achieving your certificate from TU!
What a great trade show. The exhibitor really come forth with their upcoming products. Those are excellent Pete St. Patrick’s Day pipes, and the Mac Barens new HH Virginia looks excellent … among so much else. I’m glad the manufacturers and other insiders have a chance to do business. New Orleans is a great venue; I’ve been to professional conventions there myself, though not related to tobacco and pipes. Thank you for the glimpse inside. Great photos and helpful captions.
Great job…I really enjoyed your review of IPCPR
Nice review, great illustrating!
Solid report with some really good pictures!
Nice report. Good stuff, thanks for this. Sure wish Mac Baren had brought back the Mature Virginia though.
Another wonderful job of reporting, and excellent pix!
The word on the street is that attendance was way off from prior years. Particularly light at the pipe vendors.
Great write up James! Keep it up my friend!