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James Suckling

A Few Observations on Cuban Cigars

Posted: Mar 2, 2010 6:46pm ET
Do you smoke Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, José L. Piedra, Partagas, or Cohiba? Or all of the above?

You probably smoke one or two of the brands on a regular basis if you are into Cuban cigars, considering those brands account for about three-fourths of the total number of Cuban cigars sold in 2009. Brand figures released during a seminar at the 12th Habanos Festival shows that the above five brands account for the lion’s share of Cuban cigar shipments: Montecristo, 21 percent; Romeo y Julieta, 17 percent; José L. Piedra, 14 percent; Cohiba, 11 percent, and Partagas, 11 percent.

The top five brands were followed by Hoyo de Monterrey, 6 percent; Quintero, 5 percent; and H. Upmann, 3 percent. The remaining two dozen brands or so account for the rest.

If you love the ubiquitous Montecristo No. 4, then your petit corona-sized cigar accounted for about 8 percent of the market, followed by Romeo y Julieta Cazadores with 5 percent, Romeo y Julieta No. 2 with 4 percent, Partagas Serie D No. 4 with 4 percent, and Montecristo No. 5 with 3 percent.

A number of the next five best selling cigars are machine finished, or use short filler, including Partagas Millefleur, 3 percent; Quintero Breva, 3 percent; and José L. Piedra Cremas, 3 percent. The next favorite sizes include Romeo y Julieta No. 3, 2 percent; Cohiba Siglo II, 2 percent; José L. Piedra Petit Cazadores, 2 percent; Romeo y Julieta Romeo No. 1, 2 percent; Montecristo No. 2, 2 percent, Montecristo Edmundo, 2 percent and Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2, 2 percent.

One observation I have is that the Montecristo No. 4 is no longer the popular cigar it used to be. In the 1990s, it accounted for almost a third of all shipments of Cuban cigars. In Spain and France, it was synonymous with asking for a puros or cigare. But it’s pretty evenly spread now.

I think that the fact that no cigar truly dominates the global Cuban market suggest that the taste in the market is more diversified and better educated. The Habanos aficionado likes to try different brands and different sizes, or vitolas. He or she doesn’t stick to one cigar, like their parents or grandparents did.


You can follow James Suckling on Twitter: twitter.com/JamesSuckling


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