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Cuban Comeback

Though Still Beset by Tobacco Shortages, Cuba Gears Up to Meet the Demand
James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
Michael Richards, Sep/Oct 97

(continued from page 2)

The cigars are made exclusively in Havana's José Martí (H. Upmann) factory. The wrapper tobacco for the cigars comes solely from Robaina's 30-acre farm, while the filler and binder originates from nearby farms. The cigars are strong, with lots of peppery and earthy character. A double corona smoked at the Madrid event almost blew my head off; a lot of the rough edges were due to its youth. "I find the cigar almost too strong for me," admits Robaina. "But it will improve with one or two years of age. These cigars are very young. They really need some time to improve."

The creation of Vegas Robaina highlights Cuba's recent commitment to introducing new brands into the marketplace. "This is the third new brand for Cuba, after Cohiba and Cuaba," says Linares. "The new brands create interest in the market; true cigar aficionados deserve more and more interesting things from Cuba."

Some of the cigar merchants attending the dinner in Madrid question why Cuba continues to introduce new brands (another brand is planned to be launched in Havana in February) when it can't properly supply well-established brands. In addition, some ask, why introduce large-sized cigars such as Vegas Robaina in a market that traditionally smokes small sizes, mostly petit coronas?

"Spain is our premier market and we owe a lot to it," says Linares. "There are more cigar connoisseurs in Spain than anywhere else in the world, and they like large cigars just like anyone else. I am sure if they had more double coronas, pyramids and others available to them, they would buy more of them." --JS

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