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Conference Calls and Regional Cigars

A friend just about had a heart attack this morning. He had what he called a “global conference call” connected to “eight countries” for a “huge business deal,” but, unfortunately, his mobile phone from Cubacell ran out of credit halfway through the conversation. Doing business in Cuba can be a challenge for foreigners on just about every level. But think what sort of opportunities could be possible for American businessmen if the U.S. government drops the trade embargo? Vamos a ver. We will see.

Yesterday, I smoked a Juan Lopez Short Torpedo for the Carribean (50 ring gauge by 4 inches), one of dozens of regional smokes from last year. I found a list of the proposed 2009 releases of regional cigars on the Internet and I believe it is accurate. Habanos SA, the global marketing and distribution company for Cuban cigars, would not confirm 100 percent but sources say it is correct. I will add it to my blog at the bottom.

I love the idea of regional editions. It just adds to the variety and interest of Cuban cigars. The problem is that a number of the cigars lack character. They are good smokes but nothing exciting. I am not sure if this is by choice or the factories that make the blends and cigars just don’t really care.

Regional editions are cigars made for particular markets over a two-year period with a minimum order of 600 boxes of 25 cigars per year. The Cuban cigar agent who orders the cigar decides on the shape, or vitola, as well as the blend – in theory. Maybe the agents like relatively bland blends.

Apparently, a regional edition is on the way for the Cuban market as well and it is to be sold in cigar shops around the island. I hope that smoke is a serious one.

Granted, I have had some great ones recently. I have been really enjoying the Edmundo Dantes Conde 109 (50 ring gauge by 7 inches) for Mexico and the Ramon Allones Grandes (49 ring by 7 inches) for Spain. Both have loads of flavor and character. They are serious smokes. The latter was introduced last year and the former in 2007.

But many are like the Juan Lopez Short Torpedos – a pleasant smoke but not very interesting. I smoked the Short Torpedo yesterday with a Cuaba Pyramid Limited Edition 2008. The Cuaba absolutely crushed the Juan Lopez. It had so much more flavor and richness with coffee, tobacco and nutty character. If you get a chance, smoke one of the Cuabas. 93 points, non-blind.

I am not sure whether my friend ever concluded his “global conference call.” I hope he did. But in Cuba things work at a different pace. Tranquilo amigo. Relax. Smoke a Cuaba. Chill and enjoy the island.

There is a lot to chill and enjoy. I went to a dinner last night with some friends at Cuba’s best restaurant, La Guarida, and there were a couple of twin models at the dinner with us, not to mention a Flor de Cano Short Churchill from 1991 and a Flor de Cano Diademas from the same year. The cigars were both 100 pointers the from Connoisseurs Corner in the magazine.

List of 2009 Regional Cigars (ring gauge x length in millimeters with factory name for the shape)

Bolivar - Germany - 5ta Avenida – 50 x 184 - Conde 109
Bolivar - Germany - Especiales No.2 – 38 x 192 - Delicados
Punch - Italy - Diademas Extra - 55 x 233 - Diadema
El Ray del Mundo - Italy - Torpedos - 52 x 140 - Campanas
Por Larrañaga - not allocated - Machu Picchu - 50 x 127 - Petit Piramides
Ramon Allones - not allocated - Los Andes - 50 x 141 - Gorditos
El Ray del Mundo - Baltic - Balthasar - 50 x 155 - Dobles
Por Larrañaga - Switzerland - Valiosos - 52 x 156 - Piramides
Punch - Switzerland - Pocerosos - 54 x 164 - Sublimes
Ramon Allones - Switzerland - Deliciosos - 50 x 102 - Petit Robustos
Ramon Allones - Asia Pacific - Celestiales Finos - 46 x 137 - Britanicas
Saint Luis Rey - Asia Pacific - Pacifics - 52 x 156 - Piramides
Punch - Benelux - Punch Royal - 50 x 141 - Gordito
Bolivar - Benelux - Fabulosos - 52 x 135 - Edmundo
Vegas Robaina - Benelux - Elegantes - 47 x 158 - Tacos
Vegas Robaina - Benelux - Magnificos - 52 x 135 - Edmundo
Punch - Spain - Grand Robusto - 50 x 155 - Dobles
Por Larrañaga - not allocated - unnamed - 50 x 155 - Dobles
Juan Lopez - not allocated - unnamed - 50 x 102 - Petit Robustos
El Ray del Mundo - France - Petit Coupania - 50 x 127 - Petit Piramides
Quintero - France - Small Club - 50 x 102 - Petit Robustos
Ramon Allones - Middle East - Beritus - 52 x 135 - Edmundo
Bolivar - Middle East - El Greco - 50 x 141 - Gorditos
Vegas Robaina - Canada - Petit Robaina - 52 x 110 - Petit Edmundo
Ramon Allones - Canada - Petit Unicos - 50 x 127 - Petit Pyramides
Juan Lopez - UK - Seleccion Suprema - 52 x 170 - Torre Iznagas
El Ray del Mundo - UK - Choix de L'epoque - 52 x 110 - Petit Edmundo
Punch - Scandinavia - Northern Light - 52 x 110 - Petit Edmundo
Vegas Robaina - Scandinavia - Great Northern Light - 54 x 164 - Sublimes
La Gloria Cubana - Unknown (Habanos S.A.?) - Deliciosos - 48 x 127 - Hermosos No.4
Punch - India - Platino - 49 x 194 - Prominentes
Fred Gruben Bothell WA February 20, 2009 3:36pm ET
what a great time! i would love to visit cuba and do hope that trade and travel restrictions are dropped. cuaba's and twins sound's fun also.
Edward Sahakian London, UK February 21, 2009 5:13am ET
Dear James, Can you bring a sample for us in London to try, and how was the food ? Regards Edward, London
James Suckling February 21, 2009 9:43am ET
We miss you in Havana. Captain Jack and others miss you. Food was excellent too.
Shichong Zhou China February 22, 2009 9:38am ET
I don't like Regional either, James. The price is beyond of the taste, poor of character, in my opinion. If I choose, the regular cubana is the best.

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