Written by Puff Staff

Wednesday, 05 March 2014

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This last week has been one of the biggest of the year for cigar lovers, as the Festival de Habano has been taking place in Havana. Also known as the Cuban Cigar Festival, this event reminds us of all we’re missing by not being able to legally enjoy cigars from Cuba!




Host company Corporacion Habanos S.A. promised a dream week for lovers of Cuban cigars, including a sneak peek at new brands ahead of their launch later in 2014. This year’s festival was dedicated to the brands Partagas, H. Upmann, Hoyos de Monterrey and Trinidad, all of whom were well represented all week long. 


Festival de Habano for 2014 kicked off Monday night with an opening dinner at Club Havana that honored a pair of new cigars, the Hoyo de Monterry Le Hoyo de San Juan and Partegas Serie D No. 6. At 6 inches by 54 ring gauge, the Hoyo is one of the thickest cigars in the line. Guests were entertained by salsa band Los Van Van and other Cuban artists.


The festival drew a crowd of businessmen, collectors, artists, entrepreneurs, and cigar lovers, all drawn by the lure of hand-rolled Cuban cigars. The festival brought 1,500 participants from more than 80 countries to Havana for a series of seminars and gala dinners, plus visits to the tobacco fields of Pinar de Rio and cigar factories.  A record 225 members of the press were on hand to report the festivities.

On Tuesday, guests took a trip to the markets in Vuelta Abajo for a special tasting session featuring cigars grown in various different soils. On Wednesday, they had the opportunity to see cigar rollers practicing their craft at local factories and later attend one of those gala dinners at the Museo del Belas Artes. This one honored two new smokes from the Trinidad brand, the thicker Vigia and the Cohiba Edicion Limitada 2014. The main event for Thursday was the Long Ash contest, which challenged contestants to leave the longest unbroken ash on a 7-inch H. Upmann Sir Winston cigar.

One of the highlights of the 2014 festival was the Commercial Fair that opened on Monday at the Havana Convention Center. This year’s fair was the biggest ever, with 68 stands representing seven countries. In addition to the usual keynote lectures and an international seminar, seven contenders competed in the Habanosommelier contest. Guests enjoyed tasting various combinations of cigars with chocolates, beers, wines and rums.


One of the main themes of this year’s festival was the mating of fine Cuban cigars with a wider assortment of alcoholic libations. While the traditional accompaniment to an after-dinner smoke has been brandy or cognac, a beer-and-cocktail campaign is promoting the idea of enjoying a refreshing cold drink with your cigar. As Ana Lopez Garcia, marketing director for Habanos S. A., commented, “What's new is that the Havana is being wedded to products that perhaps traditionally have been reserved for other occasions.”

The festivities came to a close on Friday night with a dinner honoring the H. Upmann No. 2 Reserva Cosecha 2010, a pyramid-shaped vintage cigar that is made with tobacco from the 2010 crop. The evening was highlighted by an auction where guests bid on cigars and humidors, with all funds going to benefit Cuba’s healthcare system.

There's more news from the event ahead...

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