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Interview: Francisco Padron, Cubatabaco

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

(continued from page 6)

When Cuba released 500 limited edition humidors with 50 1492 cigars this autumn, no one ever expected such a smash success. Hong Kong sold out of its 80 boxes in a few weeks. London's 70 took about a month. Canada's 20 went in about the same amount of time.

A customer asked one London cigar merchant if he could buy the entire production of 500, while the Sultan of Brunei's brother, Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, reportedly sent a servant out to buy as many of the humidors as he could find in London. In Hong Kong most of the humidors were sold to a handful of customers for Christmas gifts.

"I could have sold twice as many," says Edward Sahakian, the owner of Davidoff of London, who went through his stock of 45 in a few weeks. "I was not surprised by the demand. It is a very special thing. Those people who bought them will probably not even smoke the cigars. They will be kept and cherished."

The oblong-shaped cherrywood humidor with its distinctive rounded ends and "1492" etched in its lid comes filled with 50 limited edition cigars. Each humidor is also etched with two numbers. One represents one of the 500 years since 1492 and the other corresponds to the actual year. For instance the last humidor is marked 1992-500. The cigars are also marked on their bands with numbers from 0 to 25,050. Of course, the first box was given to Fidel Castro while the second was a gift to King Juan Carlos of Spain. The humidor numbered 1992-500 is on permanent display in Havana's National Museum of Tobacco.

1492 cigars measure about 5 2/3 inches by 46 ring gauge. The cigars look remarkably similar to the no-longer-produced Cuban Davidoff 5000, although the 1492s are box pressed. All the tobacco comes from the El Laguito factory, home of Cohiba cigars. The cigars, however, were made at the H. Upmann factory in downtown Havana. "It is a fabulous cigar," says Rafael Guerra of El Laguito. "It is a great shape, and the wrapper is one of the thinnest, finest wrappers we have ever used for a cigar."

The release price for the 1492 humidor and cigars is between $1,000 and $2,000 depending on the market. With such great demand, the humidor has already become a collector's item, and its price is expected to quickly escalate.

1492: A gorgeous cigar to look at with its impressively smooth, light-brow wrapper. It shows extremely refined aromas and flavors and loads of richness, yet it's also very delicate. A classy smoke. 92

-- J. S.


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