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James Suckling

Day 3: From Table to Ash

Posted: Feb 27, 2008 2:04pm ET
Sometimes I find it almost hard to believe that the cigars we buy in shops come from the rollers’ tables of cigar factories in Havana. When we buy the cigar, it’s almost as if we are standing right next to the roller and he or she is handing us the cigar. Look at the video below with Eric Aboulia, whose family owns Raffi Cigars in Geneva, Switzerland. We were together in the H. Upmann factory in Havana yesterday and he saw a friend of his rolling, walked over, and received a fresh smoke. How cool is that?



I, too, have friends in the cigar world in Havana, and one was nice enough to give me a sneak preview of the Cuba's new Edición Limitadas that are coming out later this year: the Cuaba Piramides, Partagas Serie D No. 5 and Montecristo Sublimes. I smoked them together yesterday.

Here are my impressions of each of the cigars, with my non-blind scores:

SPECIAL PREVIEW TASTING: CUBA'S 2008 EDICION LIMITADAS

Cuaba Piramides
6 1/8 by 52 ring
This is the same size as the popular Montecristo No. 2. It is super refined and long with light coffee and nutty character. Full flavored with a long finish. Gorgeous and fresh. All is in balance. Perfect draw.
93 points (non blind)

Montecristo Sublimes
6 1/2 by 54 ring
The strongest of the three, it shows lots of espresso bean, roasted meat and earth under the tobacco. Full and rich. Long and flavorful. Full throttle.
92 points (non blind)

Partagas Serie D No. 5
4 1/3 by 50 ring
This is essentially a Serie D No. 4 but short. However, it has a different flavor profile and is more spicy. The cigar comes across a little herbal at first but turns to dried flowers. Full and balanced with a spicy finish. I smoked three yesterday. The more I smoke them, the more I like them.
91 points (non blind)

The Limited Editions should be rolling (no pun intended) out on the market in a month or so. Get some. And check out the second video in this blog, so you can see the boxes.



It’s products like these that have given Habanos such success in the marketplace despite the difficulties in the global economy and all the new anti-smoking laws. Yesterday, I heard that Mexico just passed draconian anti-smoking laws. Apparently, you can’t smoke anywhere in public places anymore!

Last year, Habanos posted a turnover of $400 million. During the press conference on Monday, Manuel Garcia, the Habanos commercial director, said that Habanos had an 85 percent market share of the global market for premium cigars, not including the U.S. market. He said they had a small increase in turnover last year from 2006 as well as in exports of units of cigars.

I am sure that the new owner of Habanos, Britain’s Imperial Tobacco PLC, appreciates the increases. One has to wonder what the British are going to change at Altadis, both on the island and in the United States. The Cubans and Spanish in Havana say nothing is going to change. “We just changed our shareholders,” said one source high up in the organization. “Nothing else is going to change.” Vamos a ver…we will see.


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