The Final Night In Cuba

The trip had been a long one: ten nights on the road, with nearly every evening ending with a long dinner. Speeches, songs, conversation and cigars each and every night, and at the end I was ready for a break. Then the voice hit me.

It was a strong, ambitious rendering of Adele's "Someone Like You." The singer's powerful voice, sung alone, with only a piano to give it company, sliced through the chitchat of 1,000 people, through all the smoke, and woke me up, bringing a smile to my face.

The moment took place on Friday night in Havana, perhaps an hour-and-a-half into the gala dinner closing the Habanos Festival. The night, which honored the H. Upmann brand, featured four courses of cigars bearing the Upmann name, culminating in the first ever Reserva for the brand, the H. Upmann No. 2 Reserva.

The singer wasn't announced, so I didn't get her name. She was far from the star act of the evening. That honor went to superstar Tom Jones, who was a special guest. He performed three songs before dinner, charming the crowd with such hits as "It's Not Unusual."

"I started smoking Cuban cigars in the 1960s, and I haven't stopped yet," Jones told the crowd between songs. All those cigars haven't had an impact on his voice—the 74-year-old sounded great.

The featured cigar of the night was the H. Upmann No. 2 Reserva. The cigar is said to be made with tobacco from 2010, and it has the same dimensions of a traditional H. Upmann No. 2.

I hate to judge cigars in these situations, but duty called, so I lit up one of the Upmann Reservas after dinner. The start was unimpressive, but about a half-an-inch in it woke up to take on some sweet, tasty notes. I caught a faint hint of milk chocolate. The cigar was mild, but H. Upmann is meant to be a milder Cuban brand. One shouldn't expect Bolivar- or Cohiba-style flavor from this marque. I polled some of the other people in the room who smoked it, and most seemed to be pleased with what they had, and used the word "mild" to describe the cigar. Of course, this was a sample, and it will be many months before this Upmann reaches stores.

H. Upmann No. 2 cigar.

As I smoked, Simon Chase took to the stage to auction off six large humidors, each built around a Cuban cigar brand and filled with smokes. The proceeds were to benefit Cuban charities. The humidors (plus a piece of artwork) sold for a collective 798,000 euros (about $1.1 million).

It's been a long trip, spread across three countries. I've had incredible conversations, wonderful cigars and fond memories. Now it's about time to get home. Thanks for following along for the ride.

kerry joseph Rio Comprido, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, March 2, 2014 6:03am ET
Well done David!
David Savona March 2, 2014 10:51am ET
Thank you Kerry.
Richard Carbone Winchester, MA, USA, March 3, 2014 11:51am ET
David!! I really enjoy your blog and cigar videos with Gordon Mott and James Suckling. Is James still the Euro Editor!! All the best to you and your family after a long 10 days on the road working!! I work at a hotel in Harvard Square Cambridge and shop at Levitt and Pierce a great Cigar Store in the Square!! If you have been to Cambridge I am sure you have checked out L@P in Harvard Square!! Keep up the great work!! Fun to see how you rate cigars on the short videos!!! Richard Carbone Harvard Square Hotel
Tyler Majchrzak Federalsburg , Maryland , United States of America , March 6, 2014 10:25pm ET
David, how are you able to bring back some of these amazing cigars? March 7, 2014 3:47pm ET
Has Cigar Aficionado ever thought about organizing an educational tour of Cuba? I think it would be huge!
Gerald Snell March 8, 2014 5:51pm ET
David. I have enjoyed your blog about your Cuba trip. I am retired Navy and I had the opportunity to enjoy some Cuban cigars while I was stationed overseas. Thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories. Maybe one day our government will get their act together and end this embargo crap. Love your blog. Keep up the good work.
ANN NARIMATSU HONOLULU, HI, USA, March 9, 2014 5:03pm ET
Hi David,
Do you think you can change under the Cigar Aficionado's name "The Good Life Magazine For Men" to something more general such as "The Good Life Magazine For Everyone"? I am a woman and I read this magazine (my bfriend's subscription) as well as smoke cigars. So many other women do also, as portrayed in the magazine. Just wondering
Ann Narimatsu

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