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James Suckling

James Suckling
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They Are Magnifico

Posted: Nov 26, 2007 10:09am ET
On November 16 I smoked the fabulous regional edition Cuban cigar for the U.K. market in London’s Davidoff shop, and what a smoke. The Por Larrañaga Magnifico is one hell of a cigar. It was specially produced this year for Hunters & Frankau, the U.K. agent for Cuban cigars. It measures 50-ring gauge by 6 3⁄4 inches long.

Behind the Scenes of the Big Smoke

Posted: Nov 13, 2007 9:10am ET
Last weekend’s Big Smoke was awesome. Just think about it: More than 6,000 people, mostly dudes, invading Vegas and smoking and partying for one unforgettable weekend. We should do it once a month!

What impresses me the most is the camaraderie of everyone who enjoys the leaf. It’s about hanging with your brothers under the pretext of enjoying a good cigar, but taking pleasure in everything Sin City has to offer and there are lots. Just remember the motto: “What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.”

One Satisfying Smoke in Los Angeles

Posted: Nov 5, 2007 6:17pm ET
I have become a pretty good friend to a super hipster wine bar owner in Los Angeles called David Haskell of Bin 8945. His small place in West Hollywood is one of my favorite places to hang out and drink some good wine, eat delicious France meets West Coast food, and, yes, smoke cigars. He has a terrace on the street. So so much for the health facists in La La!

A Pleasant Surprise in Milan

Posted: Oct 24, 2007 10:17am ET
I spent a few days in Milan this week with my kids during their half-term break from school in England. I went to the fashion city to take them to my friend’s rock concert, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush. By the way, their new album Snakes and Arrows is superb. It’s the real deal, maybe their best ever. I particularly like the tracks Amor and Sword, Far Cry, and Work’in Them Angles. Hearing them live was fantastic, and it was my children’s first rock concert. Very cool! Geddy and Alex get better with time, like fine old Cuban cigars…

Taboada and His Custom Smokes

Posted: Oct 11, 2007 4:37pm ET
A surprising amount is said and written about custom-made Cuban cigars. These are cigars that retired factory rollers produce in various cigar shops in Havana as well as abroad. Mostly recently I was at a La Casa del Habano in Tijuana, Mexico, and retired Rodolfo Taboada Campa was rolling in the small cigar shop. He was rolling cigars on a bench just inside the door. He was there giving a demonstration to the Casa customers of the art of cigar rolling and I assume that they could buy some of his cigars as well.

Cubana, Heaven and Cigars

Posted: Oct 2, 2007 8:16pm ET
Maybe I was being a little dramatic, but I honestly thought that the Bolivar Royal Corona could be the last cigar of my life. I am not a great fan of Cubana airlines but I needed to take the flight this weekend to make my connection to Los Angeles. So I had no choice.

Flattery and the Real Deal

Posted: Sep 28, 2007 7:06pm ET
I smoked a Cohiba Behike and an Edmundo Dantes Conde 109 the other night during a dinner at La Guarida, the best restaurant in Havana. The Behike didn’t have a band on it and the Dantes did.

Maybe you have forgotten about the Behike. But that is the mega-expensive limited edition smoke from Cohiba that came in Elle Blue humidors that were filled with 40 sticks. They sold for a minimum of about $18,000. They are already trading for about double that on the secondary market.

The Biggest Humidor in the World

Posted: Sep 27, 2007 12:32pm ET
I visited the Partagas factory in full sunshine. My Cuban friends were telling me that they could feel autumn in the air. It made me laugh to myself—I have never been so sweaty on an autumn’s day.

It was pretty hot and sticky in the rolling room of the Partagas factory in downtown Havana. About 300 rollers were busy handcrafting a range of cigars. I saw mostly large ring gauge, small length cigars being rolled. In fact, I asked if anyone was making double coronas and they said no. Most of the cigars were Regional Editions for the Middle East and Cohiba Maduros. The one Regional Edition that looked pretty amazing was a Bolivar Sublimes, which I believe is going to be sold in Lebanon.

Just Smoking in the Rain, What a Wonderful Day in Havana

Posted: Sep 26, 2007 4:30pm ET
Yesterday it absolutely poured in Havana. I honestly thought that the city was going to sink underwater. I was having lunch with some friends from Habanos S.A., the global marketing and distribution company for Cuban cigars, and the restaurant that were in, La Cocina de Lilliam, was under about five inches of water in about 30 minutes.

Early Morning Meeting in Havana

Posted: Sep 25, 2007 11:43am ET
I just fired up an Edmundo from an aluminum tube that I received from Manuel Garcia, commercial vice president for Habanos S.A., the global marketing and distribution company for Cuban cigars. We had an early meeting this morning at 8:15 am. I mentioned that I had a meeting to a Cuban friend this morning and she looked in a state of shock. "That doesn’t sound like Cuba," she said. Oh well. Garcia was busy this week with all the presidents of Habanos’ key distributors around the world. So, it was the only time he could fit me in to talk a little bit about sales around the world. He said that both sales volume and value were up, although the later was more. They don’t like to give out exact figures, but I suspect exports are about 125 million to 135 million cigars in a year and total revenues are between $250 million and $300 million.

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