Recently, i was invited to the Habanos Lobby Lounge by Kevin Shah for a cigar tasting. He had just returned from the United States after attending the cigar event of the year, Cigar Aficionado’s Las Vegas Big Smoke. He had a bucketload of cigars he needed tasting, and i was more than happy to oblige. Never having a chance to attend a Big Smoke, this was probably the next best thing! Thanks, Kevin, you’re a champ!

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The Big Smoke is a place where the cigar companies that market to North America get a chance to show off their latest and greatest cigars. Of course, Cuban cigars are missing from the mix due to the embargo of Cuban products in the United States. But just about everyone else was there: the Alec Bradleys, the Padrons, the Fuentes and many others, new and old, some who are coming to their umpteenth Big Smoke, and others coming for their first. A target rich environment, if there ever was one, for a distributor such as Kevin Shah searching for new products and brands to bring to Malaysia’s shores.

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Kevin Shah

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From what i’ve seen, Kevin has grown and matured nicely as a cigar baron — his knowledge of cigars has grown exponentially, his tastebuds are refined and sensitive, and his appreciation for the business side of things is solid. He knows what he’s doing, he knows he cigars, and he’s a outrageously nice guy. The perfect qualities to take him far in the industry. You read it here first!

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Dave Ching

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Dave Ching was my tasting partner for the night, and between us and Kevin, we burned through 6 or 7 cigars. About half of them were complete washouts, and we struggled to smoke them. But there were a couple of standouts, including an Alec Bradley and surprising favourite, The Nub Cigar, made by the Oliva Cigar Company. Hopefully some of the things we discovered that night helps Kevin in some of his future dealings; to know which cigars to bring in to Malaysia.

A short note about the Habanos Lobby Lounge in the Federal Hotel, KL: it’s awesome. Extremely comfortable, good service, and by far the best vintage selection of cigars you’ll find anywhere in Malaysia. I picked up a Hoyo de Monterrey Particulares from 2002 that night; i’ve since smoked it and it was a fantastic cigar, a full review will be coming soon.