Jonathan Drew guest at Dutch Big Smoke. For almost a decade, there has been a Big Smoke in The Netherlands. And it has always been a great success. Many cigar manufacturers have visited the event. And Jonathan Drew is coming to the Big Smoke this year. Again we must say. No cigar celebrity has been the special guest as often as the infamous JD from Drew Estate. And he’s not coming alone. For the first time in years, his Nicaraguan sidekick Pedro Jose Gomez Rodriguez is coming to Europe.
Big Smoke History
The Big Smoke was started by the Dutch cigar blog and forum sigarenliefhebber.nl. And that’s where the Ministry of Cigars roots lay. In October 2011, the people behind the website and ten retailers hosted the Big Smoke at Society Nobel in The Hague. It was packed, all 150 tickets were sold out. And it was a huge success.
In the evaluation, the decision was made to host the next Big Smoke in the week before the Intertabac trade show. That way, it would be possible to get cigar manufacturers to be present.
Due to legislation, the organization had to follow some strict rules. The entry ticket has to be equal and more expensive than the cigars handed out. So to make it affordable, they set a max of 10 booths. Each booth would be manned by a shop. And all cigars handed out must be new to the Dutch market. So it would be one big, multi-brand, launch party. No sales were allowed so not just 10 shops would profit. That way, all other shops in the country supported the event.
The second year, the event moved to Rotterdam. That was a must, as the location in The Hague could not fit more than 150 people. And with cigar celebrities coming, the demand for tickets would be high. Jonathan Drew was one of those big names at the second Big Smoke. And he has been a guest many times since. Unfortunately, after the fifth Big Smoke, the Dutch government shut it down. They used gray areas in the anti-smoke laws to impose penalties to the organization. And threatened with big fines to participating retailers and the location Westelijk Handelsterrein. That was the end of the Big Smoke old-style
Big Smoke new style
After consulting with the Dutch FDA and legal help, Sasja Van Horssen (Cigaragua, Van Dalen Cigars) decided to reboot the Big Smoke after a year of hiatus. The Big Smoke 2017 version would be spread over several cigar shops. Each shop would have one or more cigars manufacturers. And if you had a Big Smoke tickets, you would be transported from shop to shop. Those shops included Davidoff, Hajenius, Cigaragua, and Van Lookeren in Amsterdam. The La Casa del Habano in Almere was the fifth shop. The event took place on Saturday and Sunday.
Last year, some changes were made. Hajenius, Van Lookeren and Cigaragua were the participating shops on Saturday. Instead of traveling between shops, you’d buy a ticket for one shop. And the cigar manufacturers would travel from shop to shop. On Sunday, Van Dalen Den Bosch and Van Dalen Rotterdam were the locations to be. With an afterparty at Jacks’ Cigar Bar.
Now what the plans for the Big Smoke 2019 are is yet to be announced. Only the dates are known. Those are 14 and 15 September. And now we know the first guest, Jonathan Drew from Drew Estate. Tickets are not for sale yet.