Cuban cigars, a
tradition of excellence
The story goes that, in 1492, when
Christopher Columbus and his crew landed on this
beautiful Caribbean island, they were seduced by the
aroma of a mysterious leaf which the natives, who
called it cohíba, rolled up and burned.
Cigar Festival continues to honor the
world’s best tobacco.
From that moment on, tobacco began
its long journey around the world and is currently
cultivated and sold in many locations, although with
perceptible differences from that grown in Cuba for
more than 500 years.
Black tobacco is unique in its
texture, taste and fragrance, as a result of the
combination of four elements only found here: soil,
climate, the variety planted and traditions followed
by Cuban growers and cigar rollers.
Connoisseurs of the Cuban habano
will gather for the 16th Havana Cigar
Festival February 24-28, to enjoy and evaluate their
Dedicated this year to the brands
Hoyo de Monterrey, Partagás, Trinidad and H. Upmann,
the event provides the opportunity for enthusiasts
from more than 60 countries to gather and learn more
about the featured brands, other Cuban products and
the tobacco growing province of Pinar del Río.
Special attention will be afforded
new products being introduced on the world market in
2014; special releases to be distributed through the
Casa del Habano national network; a long ash
competition and a cigars in visual art contest,
entitled Habano en imágenes.
As is customary, included on the
program are visits to plantations and cigar
factories; humidor auctions; the Habano sommelier
contest; the presentation of Habanos 2013 awards;
and the commercial fair to promote contact between
international distributors and Cuba’s cigar industry,
to develop ties with other brands and luxury
products around the world.
where tobacco for habanos can be
cultivated are limited to a few regions
on the island.
To be celebrated this year is the
170th anniversary of the prestigious
trademark H. Upmann. Ana López, Habanos S. A.
marketing director, recounted the history of Cuban
cigar brands which began in the 19th
century. H. Upmann was founded in 1844 and has
continued its development to become available in 150
countries. Sales of H. Upmann cigars represent 4% of
the company’s income.
Given that on a world level tobacco
is increasingly smoked outdoors and in the summer
months, Habanos S.A. has created a promotional
strategy reflecting his trend.
"During this year’s elite event, two
important moments will occur, an alliance with
Belgian and Cuban beers, principally, and with
cocktails based on vodka. Both are products linked
to summer and are not usually considered after
Gourmet cooking will also be
represented at the Festival, during the evening
dedicated to the Trinidad brand, celebrating its 45th
anniversary this year. Dutch chefRon Blaauw, recognized
internationally with two Michelín stars, has
designed the menu, according to Ana López.
"There is a growing tendency among
smokers to age the product for at least five years,
to better appreciate its other organoleptic
characteristics and during the Festival we are going
to devote a special moment to tasting an aged cigar,
with a master class entitled Habanos Vintage, by
British expert Simon Chase.
Prior to a lecture on the elements
which influence the combustibility of a cigar, by
Vladimir Andino, president of the Tabacuba company,
the ‘longest ash’ competition will be held.
The specialist clarified that this
novel event demonstrates the quality of Cuban
cigars, since only a well-conceived product,
manufactured with quality prime material, smoked by
an experienced consumer, can maintain a long ash.
Ana López added that the quality of
all stages of the production process are made
evident in the ash.
She reported that growers –
principally in Pinar del Río where the greatest
volume of raw material is produced – have been
engaged in a constant struggle against inclement
weather, related to climate change.
"Unfortunately, over the last few
months, the rains have been very heavy and this has
produced some damage to crops. Replanting has been
necessary on several occasions, requiring
considerable effort on the part of growers, to
attempt to reduce as much as possible the impact on
Nevertheless, she said, the Cuban
industry is prepared to meet this challenge. For
several years now, work has been underway to ensure
a stocked supply of raw material, to be used in the
event of such adversities.