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Out of the Humidor

The Editors
From the Print Edition:
John F. Kennedy, Nov/Dec 98

(continued from page 7)

This year marked my 20th wedding anniversary and, to celebrate it, my lovely wife, Sharon, and I decided to go to Cuba. It was a natural choice given my love of cigars and her love of sun, sand and the adventure of going somewhere "different." It seemed equally natural that my cigar buddy and his charming wife, Barbara, should accompany us.

This was our first visit to Cuba, and it will most certainly not be our last. We found the Cuban people to be as warm and welcoming as their climate, and were delighted to be surrounded by wonderful Cuban music wherever we went. While struggling with the economic woes generated by both the embargo and the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the people whom we met showed a zest for life that we found refreshing.

Armed with sound advice from Cigar Aficionado publications, we studiously avoided offers of black-market cigars (which were everywhere). We even called the bluff of one purveyor of "genuine Cohiba Lanceros, only $80 a box!" by asking for and receiving a sample which, we decided, may have seen the digestive tract of a donkey before being rolled; the similarity to the smell of burning compost was most convincing. Eschewing all but the single sticks sold at our resort hotel and those purchased at a lovely approved outlet run by a friendly and knowledgeable staff, we marked each of our eight days with a parade of the finest cigars on earth. Bolivar, Cohiba, Partagas, Montecristo and other famous brands were savored, discussed and logged into my "cigar journal," which would be used to guide our final purchase of boxes of cigars to take home to Canada, all at prices from one-third to one-seventh what they cost at home! We thrived on a daily diet of cigars that had previously been reserved only for birthday and Christmas celebrations.

Our last day was the most wonderful as we purchased boxes of our favorites: creamy Partagas Lusitanias, silky Hoyo de Monterrey Double Coronas, Romeo y Julieta Petit Coronas and incredible Bolivar Royal Coronas. Now, Dennis and I survey our collection of cigar treasures, agree on which we shall smoke and discuss, carefully cut and light, and lean back and share dreams of our next trip--to Cuba, of course!

Dr. David Carter
Kelowna, British Columbia

* * *

Dear Marvin,

As an avid reader of and subscriber to your publication, I am dismayed by what I perceive to be an effort (conscious or otherwise) to simultaneously downgrade the reputation of Havana cigars and upgrade that of non-Havanas.

This perception is based on my reading of various relevant articles as well as the cigar ratings that have appeared in the last few editions of Cigar Aficionado. My perception is further grounded on the knowledge that Americans refuse to settle for second best.

Having been a cigar aficionado for 25 years, and having had the opportunity (and privilege) to consistently enjoy Havanas for 20 of those years, it is my considered opinion that all this talk concerning the dwindling quality of Cuban cigars is absolute nonsense, or even worse. My personal experience is that, if anything, the opposite is true: Cuban cigars are better than ever, from every point of view. The Cuban brands I regularly smoke include Cohiba Esplendidos and Robustos, Hoyo de Monterrey Double Coronas and Epicure No. 2s, Partagas Lusitanias and Serie D No. 4s, Bolivar Belicosos Finos and Royal Coronas, Punch Churchills and Punch Punches, and Romeo y Julieta Churchills and Montecristo No. 2s.

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