A Look Inside Cuba's El Laguito

El Laguito is one of the world’s most famous cigar factories, yet it retains quite the air of mystery. This is where Cohiba cigars were first rolled, where the diplomatic Trinidad cigar was born, and now it’s where Cohiba Behike cigars are made. It's off limits to most visitors, and although I have been in Cuba several times I had never visited the factory until this most recent visit in December. I brought along my video camera to share with you some of what goes on inside.

From the outside, El Laguito looks more like an old mansion than a cigar factory, with its royal palm trees, marble columns and arched windows. It would be quite out of sorts in Havana proper, but this is Miramar, the Havana suburb with majestic house after majestic house, most of them for visiting dignitaries. In Miramar, El Laguito fits right in.

Walking inside, a visitor is greeted with a large staircase and an immense logo of the word Cohiba. But there is no large rolling gallery, a la Partagas or most other cigar factories in Cuba, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic or Honduras. Here the workers roll in small rooms, perhaps 25 tabaqueros to a room. It's something I've never seen before. It gives the factory a much more boutiquey feel than other factories I've toured. Each little room is somewhat like its own world. It's quieter than most cigar factories, and somehow more elegent. El Laguito once was a school—this clearly wasn’t designed as a cigar factory. Take a look in this video as I walked inside in early December and notice one of the small rolling rooms, the careful production and the end product, Cohiba Behikes.

El Laguito has long been held in high esteem, regarded as one of the best (if not the best) cigar factories in Cuba. The cigars we've smoked from the factory in recent months certainly are stellar cigars. Taking a look inside gives us an idea of what makes the factory more than a little bit different from most others.

Taylor Franklin December 24, 2010 7:10pm ET
For a roller to be "invited" to work at El Laguito it's considered to be a real privilege.

The Torcederos and Torcederas that apply their deft touch which such alacrity and grace are the best of the best.
Justin O'Brien Windsor, Ontario, Canada, December 30, 2010 10:36pm ET
Wow, thanks David for another awesome video. Those cigars look fantastic. I'm hoping I am able to get my hands on a Behike in the New Year when my wife and I visit Cuba. We may not go until March and I know that huge cigar festival is in February. Should I be concerned that the Behikes could be all scooped up from the festival? Thanks for the tour, enjoying the updates of Cuba.
Taylor Franklin January 2, 2011 12:53am ET
RE: Justin O'Brien

Depending on where you plan to stay, you might be able to find some in government stores that are not as popular or well known. Always ask the staff, because not all stock is "front and centre".

In the past, if the staff were helpful and I found something rare, I always tipped the staff; greatly appreciated. They don't earn much to begin with.

Happy hunting.
Zdravko Brkic Belgrade, Serbia, Serbia, January 3, 2011 2:41pm ET
if anybody like to see EL Laguito factory, they open their door during Habanos Festival in last week of February every year. Out of my 20 visits to Cuba, 8 festival visits were outstanding! Best what can Cuba offer if you are cigar smoker. Rest of the year is for tourists... don't miss it
Barry Horan Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, May 3, 2011 5:18pm ET
Going to Cuba on May 20th any chance of visiting the factory?
Adil Chahid January 9, 2017 6:07pm ET
We're going to Havana at the end of February.
I think that is is aligned with the Habanos festival.
Do we need to make some sort of reservation when visiting the factory or just present ourselves athée gate?
How does the visit work?
And please tell me that they do sell Behikes at the factory!
thabks in advance for the advices.
David Savona January 10, 2017 11:08am ET
The El Laguito Factory is typically not open for visits. (Some of Cuba's other factories, such as Partagás, allow visits for a 10cuc fee.) And the El Laguito Factory doesn't have a cigar store.

Hopefully when you arrive in Havana there will be Behikes available at the Casa del Habano stores.

Enjoy the trip.

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