El Laguito is one of the world’s most famous cigar factories, yet it retains quite the air of mystery. This is where Cohiba cigars were first rolled, where the diplomatic Trinidad cigar was born, and now it’s where Cohiba Behike cigars are made. It's off limits to most visitors, and although I have been in Cuba several times I had never visited the factory until this most recent visit in December. I brought along my video camera to share with you some of what goes on inside.
From the outside, El Laguito looks more like an old mansion than a cigar factory, with its royal palm trees, marble columns and arched windows. It would be quite out of sorts in Havana proper, but this is Miramar, the Havana suburb with majestic house after majestic house, most of them for visiting dignitaries. In Miramar, El Laguito fits right in.
Walking inside, a visitor is greeted with a large staircase and an immense logo of the word Cohiba. But there is no large rolling gallery, a la Partagas or most other cigar factories in Cuba, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic or Honduras. Here the workers roll in small rooms, perhaps 25 tabaqueros to a room. It's something I've never seen before. It gives the factory a much more boutiquey feel than other factories I've toured. Each little room is somewhat like its own world. It's quieter than most cigar factories, and somehow more elegent. El Laguito once was a school—this clearly wasn’t designed as a cigar factory. Take a look in this video as I walked inside in early December and notice one of the small rolling rooms, the careful production and the end product, Cohiba Behikes.
El Laguito has long been held in high esteem, regarded as one of the best (if not the best) cigar factories in Cuba. The cigars we've smoked from the factory in recent months certainly are stellar cigars. Taking a look inside gives us an idea of what makes the factory more than a little bit different from most others.