James Suckling

James Suckling
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Day 8: Barns of Dreams

Posted: Feb 13, 2008 11:39am ET
Just to give you an idea of what the tobacco looks like going in the barns, check out this latest video. It’s awesome. Hiroshi Robaina, the grandson of tobacco guru Alejandro Robaina, took me for a walk through their three tobacco curing barns and I was speechless. Unbelievable quality.

Day 7: Comparing Apples to Oranges?

Posted: Feb 12, 2008 2:14pm ET
It wasn’t the first time that I smoked a “foreign cigar” with Alejandro Robaina, the great tobacco grower from Cuba’s Pinar del Río region. Alejandro is a curious man for 89-year-old and he’s always interested to try cigars from other areas in the world. He wants to know what the competition is like outside of Cuba with cigars. As proud as he is of his tobacco and Cuban cigars in general, he also admits that good cigars can come from other countries, whether Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic.

Day 6: Robaina's New Wrapper

Posted: Feb 11, 2008 10:17am ET
The tobacco in Robaina's fields looked so good last week. It was bright green, large sized, clean, and ripe. Hiroshi Robaina, 32, the grandson of the legendary tobacco grower Alejandro Romania, said that it was the best tobacco the family had seen in their fields in the last 15 years. Check out the video.

Day 5: Smoking Fumas

Posted: Feb 8, 2008 1:28pm ET
Most tobacco farmers in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio, the best tobacco region on the island, have their own fumas. They are the cigars that they make from their own tobacco. You can call it their “home reserve” or “riserva de familia.” They keep a small amount of the tobacco they are growing for the state and make cigars for themselves, family and friends.

Day 4: Home Sweet Home in Pinar del Rio

Posted: Feb 7, 2008 11:45am ET
It’s like going home when I visit Alejandro Robaina and his family, the famous tobacco growers in Pinar del Río. Alejandro, 89, is a warm and intelligent man with a heart of gold. I often said that there were three living icons in Cuba – Fidel Castro, Alejandro Robaina and Compay Segundo. God bless the latter’s soul. I knew him well and, of course, his music.

Day 3: Watering Holes and New Cigars

Posted: Feb 6, 2008 9:06am ET
Is El Floridita the best bar on earth? New York has the Café Carlyle Hotel. Paris has the American Bar in the Ritz. And Los Angeles has Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel. Sure those are cool. And the ambience, drinks and service are superb. But you can’t smoke in any of them.

Day 2: Cigar Shop Talk

Posted: Feb 5, 2008 12:02pm ET
Hit up my first cigar shop yesterday. La Casa del Habano at Conde Villanueva is located in Old Havana near the Plaza San Francisco in a small hotel in a renovated colonial building once owned by a Spanish nobleman about 200 years ago. This place just blows you away with it history and character. Check out the video.

The Sad Truth of It

Posted: Jan 24, 2008 3:56pm ET
Smoking outside is not what it’s cracked up to be! In fact, it mostly sucks at this time of year. I was thinking about this other night when I was smoking a 1995 Bolivar Belicoso Fino by the pool at my hotel in West Hollywood with a friend of mine. It’s cold in Los Angeles right now, and wet.

Day 1: Listen to the Streets

Posted: Jan 4, 2008 12:00am ET
There’s something mystical, even spiritual, about Havana. I landed yesterday in the great city from Cancún, Mexico, and I immediately felt like I had arrived in a very special place. You have all heard Havana called a cigar mecca, which it is, but it’s much more than that. It’s a place that oozes its opulent history. You breathe the air and it fills your heart and mind with a rich, almost decadent culture. The warm people, soulful music, hearty food, flavorful cigars, and strong rum electrify your senses. Every nook and cranny of the city’s crumbling façade seens to want to tell you a story.

Take It to the Streets

Posted: Dec 12, 2007 1:37pm ET
I think it is happening just about everywhere that smoking is being banned. There is a small underground movement of freethinking people who are determined to exercise their personal freedom to smoke. Granted, I don’t want to impose my smoking pleasure on someone who doesn’t like smoke, but that doesn’t mean governments should legislate in favor or against either one of our preferences.

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