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A Conversation with Partagás's Abel Expósito Diaz

Manager of the Partagás Store, Havana, Cuba
CA Editors
From the Print Edition:
Vince McMahon, Nov/Dec 99

(continued from page 3)

Expósito: Oh, yes. Mainly from the Dominican Republic. There's always a difference between Cuban cigars and the cigars made elsewhere. Evidently, when you are used to smoking Cubans and you try one of those, then you notice the change. I'm being very honest. They're not the same as our cigars, but I have smoked some that have not tasted so bad. We cannot say they're bad.

CA: Let's talk about your American clientele. How many American clients do you think come to your cigar store?

Expósito: It just so happens that the other day a university student made a study based on our invoices, and studied such customer sources as France, Italy, Canada and the United States. One of the comparisons was based on the repeat rate. When she identified a customer that had gone twice to the store, she would regard him or her as a customer of the house. Based on that, she identified 112 American customers of the Partagas store in the period of four years.

CA: Do Americans have any preferences when they buy cigars?

Expósito: Americans seem to prefer darker wrappers. They have a preference for robustos, and after that torpedos, followed by Churchills. And I found something very interesting: in previous years, there was a demand for double coronas, but during the last year the consumption had decreased, according to the study.

CA: How does the selection of cigars in Havana today compare to 1997 and 1995? What's the difference in terms of availability and supplies?

Expósito: The inventory has been increasing, of course. The robustos are not so hard to find anymore. There may be some, such as the Ramon Allones Specially Selected we were talking about earlier, which are not produced in large quantities. But robustos, generally, have increased. Churchills, which two years ago were hard to find, have also been increasing and are now available to everyone. Torpedos still do not meet the demand, and it is better to keep a few boxes for regular customers.

CA: What is the most expensive cigar that you sell, and how much does it cost?

Expósito: The Cohiba Esplendido, which costs $383 a box. The Cohiba Lancero costs $328, and the Trinidad Fundadore, which is thicker, costs $236. Cohibas are the most expensive.

CA: Very soon from now, Americans will come to Cuba for the latest cigar celebration. Given the recent angry debates between Cuba and the United States over Elian Gonzalez, what type of reception can Americans expect?

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