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Interview: Francisco Padron, Cubatabaco

Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Groucho Marx, Spring 93

(continued from page 4)

CA: Do you have an estimate as to how many cigars find their way into the United States each year?
Padron: My people think that it must be around ten million.

CA: When the embargo ends, what do you think the potential is for Cuban cigar sales in the Unites States?
Padron: The first year will be less than ten million, but by the second year, we should be selling 20 million cigars.

CA: A lot of Cuban cigars sold in England or Switzerland, for example, are actually bought by Americans. Won't sales go down in these markets once the U.S. market opens up?
Padron: Maybe. Maybe. The sales all over the world may be slightly affected because Americans buy all over the world.

COHIBA'S NEW SIZES

It has been under wraps for more than a year. After spending months perfecting various tobacco blends, some of Cuba's top rollers at the Partagas factory in Havana began last autumn making five new sizes of Cohiba.

The brand already includes some of Cuba's hottest-selling cigars, despite their astronomical prices. Last year, Cohiba sales totaled close to 3.4 million cigars with an average retail price of $15.60. With such a following, the Cubans couldn't resist the chance to stoke the fire for demand and develop new sizes and shapes. The addition of five new cigars brings the total to 11 under the Cohiba brand.

Although no one at Cubatabaco, the government tobacco marketing organization, would confirm it, the cigars look surprisingly like some of the old Davidoff sizes and shapes abandoned last year when the Swiss company moved its cigar production to the Dominican Republic.

Cohiba's new "Linea 1492" celebrates the 500th anniversary of Columbus discovering Cuba and, more importantly, the explorer's discovery of tobacco. The five cigars in the Linea 1492 range are called Siglo I, Siglo II, Siglo III, Siglo IV and Siglo V. Siglo means "century" in Spanish; therefore each cigar represents one of the centuries since Columbus's discovery.

Siglo I, exactly the same size as Davidoff s former Château Haut Brion, is about 4 inches long by 40 ring gauge. Siglo II (Château Margaux) measures 5 inches by 42 ring gauge while Siglo III (Château Mouton-Rothschild) is also 42 gauge but 6 inches. Siglo IV (Davidoff 5000) is about 5 2/3 inches by 42. Siglo V is the only cigar in the new range not to resemble a Cuban Davidoff. Similar to the classic 8-9-8, it measures 6 2/3 by 43.

Although they resemble other Cuban cigars, the Siglo range is 100 percent Cohiba. In an arrangement similar to the production of Cohiba Robusto and Esplendido, the Linea 1492 cigars are being made at the Partagas factory in downtown Havana under the direction of technicians from El Laguito, the main factory for Cohiba. All the tobacco for Siglo is selected, processsed and matured like other Cohibas.


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