Category Archives: cigars

Havana Corner: The Cuban Cigar Fast Lane

Came across this article..sounds like a great smoke.  I’m not a fan of the regular Edmundo (even though I’m told their starting to taste better these days) but I’ll have to give these a try when I’m in Havana next week.  Also looking forward to seeing the guys at the Partagas shop again, Kiki and Abel are great, Abel actually invited me to the annual dinner/celebration they have coming up in April but I wont be able to make that.

I found the perfect “all-purpose” cigar yesterday at the Partagas factory shop. It’s the Por Larrañaga Petit Corona. The cabinet boxes of 50 are to die for, and at $165 a box, they’re reasonably priced. The cigar delivers wonderfully balanced aromas and flavors of blanched nuts, cedar, honey and tobacco. What a wonderful smoke. 92 points, unblind tasting. I have been smoking them like my children eat gummy bears in England!

While the price is reasonable, if you are paying in dollars you have to add a 20 percent commission, as well as an exchange rate of .898 cents to the Cuban convertible peso. I don’t think the global stock market, European Central Bank or any other international monetary institution has anything to do with the exchange rate in Cuba. You even get charged 11 percent commission on credit card purchases.

Nothing I can do about all that. So if you are here, you have to pay. Unfortunately, the prices for cigars are about the same as buying in less expensive markets in Europe, such as Spain, or even Switzerland. Much of the incentive for buying Cuban cigars as a tourist on the island is gone.

Still, there’s nothing more satisfying than kicking back in one of the top cigar shops on the island — such as Partagas, Havana Club or Quinta — and shooting the breeze with one of the merchants, smoking and maybe having a coffee, or rum or two. That’s the good life…

I was speaking with Enrique (Kiki) Lopez at the Partagas shop; he, along with director Abel Exposito, is a rock star of cigars in Havana. Lopez was saying how his customers are loving the Petit Edmundo, or the “perfect one-coffee” cigar. He said you can smoke it in 10 or 15 minutes and it delivers all the richness and flavor you could expect out of quick-fix smoke. It’s about the same time it takes to enjoy a good Cuban coffee, he says. I couldn’t agree more.

Cigar Quotes

I have had a ton of stuff to blog about lately, done some travelling, been to some cool events but I’ve been lazy to blog about it.  I came across something that gave me some energy to blog, some cool cigar quotes…

“The enjoyment of a cigar after a hard week gives me a feeling of well-being and relaxation that a Valium could not match. While there may be a more ideal form of stress reduction, I haven’t yet discovered anything else as effective and easy.” – Lou Gehrig

“If smoking is not allowed in heaven, I shall not go.” – Mark Twain

“No one can tell me what is a good cigar – for me. I am the only judge… There are no standards – no real standards. Each man’s preference is the only standard for him, the only one which he can accept, the only one which can command him.” – Mark Twain

“A good Cuban cigar closes the door to the vulgarities of the world.” – Franz Liszt

“A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.” – Rudyard Kipling

Last 2006 Edicion Limitada Cigar from Habanos

The Cohiba Pirámide Edición Limitada is now on store shelves. The last
of the 2006 Edición Limitada cigars from Habanos S.A. have finally
reached the global market.

The Cohiba Pirámide, which was first released as one of the 2001
Edición Limitada cigars in boxes of 25, now comes packaged in varnished
wooden boxes of 10 cigars with a red stain finish. The cigar measures 6
1/8 inches long by 52 ring and retails for 25pounds ($47.50) in the United
Kingdom. Approximately 10,000 Pirámides were produced — typical for
Edición Limitada releases.

“We particularly like ten-count boxes, as they are accessible to the
smoker who cannot afford a box of 25 or simply does not want a box of
25,” said Michelle Duzikova, general manager of C.Gars Ltd., which owns
retail shops throughout England. “We sold out within 24 hours.”


Cuba launches new cigar for smokers with limited time

Havana – Cuba’s tobacco industry launched a new version of its famous cigars, called Minuto (minute), designed for smokers “with limited time,” local media reported Friday.

The new Cuban cigar would be 194 millimetres long, weighing 7.1 grammes, sold in packs of three and boxes of 25, the weekly Negocios en Cuba reported.

Minuto cigars are made by the brand Guantanamera, which according to its parent company International Cuban Tobacco Company is targeted at consumers who are just starting smoking – young men and women who can’t yet handle longer-lasting cigars.

Guantanamera, created in 2002, is known for targeting sectors that Cuban cigars had not reached until now.

A fine time to be in the cigar business

Altadis and Swedish Match post good third-quarter cigar results

Los Angeles, November 23 – The U.S. is still smokin’.

The biggest players in the U.S. cigar market – Altadis S.A. and Swedish Match – both reported fairly good results for the nine months ended September 30, continuing the strong performance of the cigar segment in both companies.

• Altadis S.A.:
The world’s biggest cigar company saw its cigar sales volume drop significantly, but Altadis made more money than ever.

Cigar sales totaled 2.46 billion units, down 5.6% from the same period in 2005, but the economic results couldn’t be better:

• Sales reached 660 million Euro, or about $849 million U.S, up 2.1% over what was a record-setting year in 2005.

• Costs were down by 3.4%, so the profit margin was a sensational 212 million Euro (about $273 million U.S.), up to a remarkable 32.1%! That’s a gain of almost four points from last year.

Continue reading A fine time to be in the cigar business

Worlds Longest Cigar

Whether you call it Cigar City or the Cigar Capital of the World, Ybor City in Tampa, Florida hosted the annual Cigar Heritage Festival on Saturday. Although thousands attended to celebrate cigar culture, the main attraction was the rolling of the biggest cigar in recorded history.A core team of about 14 rollers was supervised by Wallace Reyes of the Gonzalez Habano Cigar Factory in Tampa to work on breaking the previous cigar record of 67 feet. After 75 hours of rolling and gluing, this monstrosity of a cigar wound up measuring 101 feet long with a 61 ring gauge.

Cigar experts were on hand “confirming that this was in fact a smokable cigar,” said Vienna LoCicero Santisteban, director of public relations for Cigar City Magazine, a local, small press publication of Ybor City that sponsored the event. “I pulled my aunt out from the crowd and told her ‘put your hand on the cigar, become part of history.’ I pulled a lot of friends and family from the crowd to touch it.”

The Guiness Book of World Records was not present for the event as had been originally planned, but according to Santisteban, enough notaries were there to validate the feat. In addition to photos, ten hours of video tape was submitted to Guinness.

The 53-pound cigar is to be cut into six-inch sections. Each segment will be framed in a shadow box and will sport a band designed by Cigar City Magazine. A reproduction of the Guinness Book of World Records certificate of authenticity will also be included. Each cigar will cost $100, with the proceeds benefiting The Humane Society of Tampa Bay and the Ybor City Museum Society.

More Flavorful Smokes from Havana

The Cubans are rolling out some flavorful smokes with dark and oily wrappers, including a number wearing the Cohiba band.

I sat on a tasting panel a few weeks ago in the H. Upmann factory in Havana and savored the soon-to-be-released Cohiba Pyramide Edición Limitada. It was a bombshell! The 52 ring gauge by 6 1/8-inch torpedo delivered loads of coffee, cedar and tobacco character on the palate. It showed the balance and richness you expect in a Cohiba, but its dark and aged wrapper imparted a slightly nutty, earthy undertone.

The Cohiba Pyramide is one of the three Edición Limitadas for this year; the others are the Montecristo Robusto (50 ring gauge by 4 7/8 inches) and the Partagas Serie D No. 3 (46 by 5 2/3 inches). These three shapes have been made before, but are being reproduced to mark the fifth anniversary of the Edición Limitada range. All come in boxes of 25 cigars, and the Cohiba is also presented in dark varnished boxes of 10.

During my visit, I also smoked the new Montecristo Petit Edmundo. This is essentially the popular Edmundo Montecristo cut short. In other words, it’s 52 ring gauge by 4 1/3 inches long. I was smoking it in the office of the new manager of H. Upmann, Miguel Brown, and he enjoyed watching me looking a bit stoned after smoking the young cigar for a while.

“How do you like it?” he said, with a huge smile.

“It’s a bit young.” I said in my bad Spanish. “It is very strong.” Honestly, I thought my eyeglasses were a little foggy! It was strong as hell.

I think it’s going to be a great smoke, just like its big brother, the normal Edmundo. I remember when the latter first came out a few years ago and I thought it wasn’t that great, but it is a super smoke now. The Edmundos are made in Brown’s factory and the blending and care in making the smoke have really improved. You should try one, if you get the chance.

I also came across a document sitting on someone’s desk (I was looking at it upside down!) with information regarding a new line of Cohibas — the Cohiba maduros. Three new sizes with aged, dark wrappers are coming out very soon, and they will be some hefty smokes. The wrappers on these Cuban cigars are not the black shade of maduros you see from some other countries, but more like the wrappers on Cuba’s Limitada range. The sizes are: Genios, 52 ring by 5 1/2; Màgicos, 52 by 4 1/2; and Secretos, 40 x 4 1/3. They are all straight-sided smokes with rat-tail ends. Can’t wait to try them.

Mystery of worlds most costly cigar

Madrid: It’s the world’s most expensive cigar – $ 440 each and it only comes in boxes of 40 – but is it the best?

Nobody knows because no one has smoked one. The Cuban havanas from the Cohiba brand are so precious that no one has actually lit one yet.

Although the blend was tested by a group of tasters before the cigar went into hand-made production, according to the “torcedora” or cigar-roller from the El Laguito factory in Havana, Norma Fernandez.

The cigar was launched in Spain on Thursday by Altadis, the exclusive importer of Cuban cigars into Spain.

When they say “hand-made”, they mean it. In this case there were only two hands involved and they both belong to Norma – she rolled all 4,000 cigars in the strictly limited edition – a labour of love.

“I’ve been doing this for 39 years but I still love it,” said Norma who admits to smoking cigarettes and the odd Cohiba panatella and was selected from the senior rollers for this special task.

Norma also had the honour of deciding on the tobacco blend to be used which was designed to honour 40 years of the Cohiba brand, being true to the house style but giving this cigar a special touch.

“But I’m not going to reveal the formula,” she said.

The Cohiba “Behike”, named after a tribal chief of Cuba’s indigenous Taino tribe, can only be bought in special humidors – ,860 for the 40 cigars.

A lot of money but maybe not for someone who can appreciate this delicate blend of the world’s most selected tobacco leaves. Either way, just like the cheapest old stogie, it’ll be up in smoke.


Havana Corner: Cubans Growing New Tobacco Strains

Cuban farmers are experimenting with new tobacco types for the 2006-07 harvest in order to reduce the effects of blue mold and black shank and to achieve greater control over the distribution of seeds. Two new hybrids in particular are being tried: Capero No. 1 and Criollo 2006.

Sources would not tell me what the Capero is derived from, but the Criollo 2006 is a cross of Corojo, Habana 2000 and Criollo ’98. The three tobaccos represent the modern history of premium tobacco growing on the island, mostly for wrapper. Corojo, developed at the Corojo plantation in San Luis, was used from the 1930s to the mid-1990s. It was a low-yielding tobacco with beautiful appearance, but it became susceptible to blue mold in the late 1990s.

The Cubans then developed Habana 2000 in their tobacco research station in the Pinar del Río region, but the results were less than perfect, mostly because the leaves were hard to ferment after being cured in tobacco barns. Moreover, Habana 2000 also became susceptible to blue mold. This brought about the development of the Criollo ’98, which resembled Corojo in appearance and quality. But that had problems, too, in as it became sensitive to black shank, a fungus that attacks tobacco plants, primarily at the roots. In spite of that, Criollo 2006 is expected to be the best of all three.

Capero No. 1 is a new super-tobacco being developed, according to sources. It has four to five more leaves than a normal plant and never flowers. The latter is a plus for the Cuban government, which wishes to better control the distribution of tobacco seeds. In theory, all tobacco planted on the island should come from the government. And tobacco seeds should not be exported. In practice, things have worked differently.

Most of the last year’s crop was planted with Criollo ’98. The results were very high in quality, according to conversations with a number of tobacco growers. What was harvested and later cured was some of the best ever. However, a question mark remains with how the tobacco was processed, particularly the wrapper.

What I saw in a number of factories in Havana, however, was very high quality. The wrapper was uniformly colored with good oil and a silky texture. Obviously, this was not from the 2005-06 harvest. The filler tobacco looked particularly good, and I spotted some ligero from the 1999-2000 crop in the H. Upmann factory. Workers I spoke to in the sorting and blending rooms said the quality was optimo — excellent.