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James Suckling

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.

I have not had many from other growers but I can tell you that the Robaina family makes amazing fumas. They may be some of the best cigars on the island. I guess in a way they are “fake” cigars because they have not been officially made in a factory, or carry a label of a well-known brand. Pero no importa! (I am making a joke!)

Check out my video. And see what I mean.




Normally, I like to smoke the Robaina's robusto. I love the powerful yet balanced character of the smoke, which has just enough spice, coffee character in the aroma and palate. It is sort of a supercharged Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2. 93 points. (Speaking of which, you may notice soon that the Epicure No. 2 comes with double bands – one saying Hoyo and the other Epicure.)

The tiny amount of cigars the Robainas make are not for sale. They are given to family and friends who visit their finca, or farm. The tobacco in the filler is about four years old and the wrapper is about two years. This is much better aged tobacco that most cigars are made from the key factories in Havana. I am not saying they are necessarily better because the tobacco blenders of the key export factories are magicians with what they have. But the Robaina cigars certainly have class, finesse and character. It’s all about aging the tobacco.

I noticed that Alejandro, the grandfather of the clan, has come up with a new size for his family smokes – the Godfather or “padrino.” It’s essentially like a super double corona, about 7 1⁄2 inches and 56-ring gauge thick instead of the normal 49. And what a smoke! Click here to read yesterday's blog with Alejandro Robaina.

It was so rich and flavorful yet refined and caressing with coffee, cedar, cream and a hint of vanilla. Apparently some of the filler tobacco is aged in old rum barrels. Not sure if that makes the difference. 97 points. Why spend a million dollars on Behikes? Unfortunately, the Robainas’ cigars are not for sale.

But Alejandro’s grandson, Hiroshi, promised to welcome all of you at the finca and let you smoke one. I have it on video. Please don’t all go on the same day!!

The fact that the tiny production of Robaina’s private cigars is so good only underlines how amazing the soil and climate are in Pinar del Rio. People, particularly other cigar tobacco growers in the world who say that the quality of tobacco from the “vegas finas” of Pinar is bad, don’t know what they are talking about. They should worry more about their own tobacco and less about what happens in Cuba. But that’s another column.

Next Monday will be a stroll in the fields of the Robaina’s finca and discussions about new tobacco types recently planted. Be there, and have a great weekend.

Comments   4 comment(s)

Colin Walsh — Red Deer, Alberta —  February 10, 2008 9:19pm ET



Hey James,Are you staying in Cuba for the cigar festival as well?Would love to join you for a smoke somewhere during the festival. We only had a minute to chat last year.Colin

David,I posted this on Jame's Day 4 Blog, figured I would test it here. Looks like the Day 4 blog has a glitch of some sort?Colin


Rafael Molina — Huntington, W.V. —  February 11, 2008 10:08am ET

JamesI really enjoy your reports from Cuba and I am a cigar fanatic like you, but please stop acting like Cuba is like every other country. The Robainas dont own that farm. There is no private property in Castros communist paradise. Dont you think that the Robainas live in humble conditions for producing cigars that only rich foriegn capitalists can afford to buy for $50.00 each. I only ask that you be a little more objective.Thanks...Rafael


James Suckling February 11, 2008 3:52pm ET

Thanks for your message Rafael. I think you may be misinformed. Alejandro and his family have owned his finca for more than 100 years. The government never took it away. More than two-thirds of all tobacco plantations are privately owned in Cuba. Sorry.


Rafael Molina — Huntington,W.V. —  February 11, 2008 8:13pm ET

James,First, thanks for answering my message.I think your friends the Padrons and Toranos among others would disagree. Even if they so called owned the land, the state takes the lions share of the profit, probably 99.9%. I can't imagine that you think that is fair. The Robainas are being exploited by Fidel. I just wish you would quit putting your head in the sand and pretending Cuba is just like any other country.I hope to speak to you in person someday perhaps at the next Big Smoke.Thanks again, Rafael



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