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James Suckling Wins Habanos Award

Gregory Mottola
Posted: March 24, 2006
James Suckling, European editor of Cigar Aficionado, was named the Habanos Man of the Year in the Communications category at this year's eighth Habanos Festival in Cuba. The award is given every year at the festival by Cuba's cigar distribution company to acknowledge the most active and distinguished harbingers of the smoking arts. Suckling had been previously nominated for the award in 2004 and 2005, but this year he took it home, beating out U.K. reporter Nicholas "Bolivar" Foulkes.

"James has visited Cuba on countless occasions," said Jose Antonio Candia, Marketing Specialist at Habanos S.A. "He has produced several articles supporting the renaissance of Habanos quality."

According to Candia, Suckling's articles helped to raise awareness about Cuba's cigar industry, significantly influencing the cigar media as well as the cigar business.

"He has been visiting the island for more than 10 years, getting to know the real tobacco culture, the methods of cultivation, trying to get a closer view of the growers and the rollers, and tasting new Cuban cigars," he said.

In addition to be being Cigar Aficionado's expert on Cuban cigars and aged Cuban cigars, Suckling has earned a reputation as being one of the most enthusiastic Habanos lovers in the business. Keeping abreast of new releases, he surveys the consistency of Cuban tobacco and has developed a keen sense as to when cigars will reach their peak.

In a short acceptance speech, Suckling said, "I do nothing special. I try to tell the truth in my articles, and the truth is that Cuban cigars can be the best in the world." Suckling has noted fluctuations in quality over the years and believes Cuba to be in an upswing at the moment.

"The fact is that Cuba is the benchmark for cigars, just like France is the reference point for wines," said Suckling, "but other regions are now equally outstanding in quality, whether Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic. It is all a question of taste. They are all excellent, but different in character and style."

Marvin R. Shanken, Cigar Aficionado's Editor and Publisher, was the first to win the Man of the Year Award in the Communications category in 1995. Other categories include Business, Detail Commerce and Production, and past winners include Simon Chase, Samuel Menzi and actor Jeremy Irons.

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