A Return to El Laguito

Feb 28, 2011 | By Marvin R. Shanken

September, 1991. The world was a very different place. The world was still in the midst of the Cold War as the Soviet Union was in its death throes, its member nations breaking off. Soviet troops, some 11,000, were to be withdrawn from Cuba, along with the Soviet aid that had kept that nation afloat.

It was far from an ideal time for a person to make their first trip to Cuba, but there I was, ready to spend a week touring Cuba's cigar factories and tobacco fields for a cover story for Wine Spectator.

Cigar Aficionado did not exist.

I write this only days after returning from my most recent trip to Cuba, a homecoming of sorts. It had been about ten years since my last visit, too long a time to spend away from the birthplace of the premium cigar industry. I most recently spent a few days on the island, smoking its wonderful cigars, speaking to its beautiful people, and returning to El Laguito, the mother factory for Cohiba cigars.

That visit to El Laguito, a majestic former school where cigars are made slowly, carefully, was emotional for me. For it brought back memories to that day nearly 20 years ago when I first stepped inside, smoking Cuba's most famous cigars. For it was on that visit, when I walked inside those tiny rooms where cigars are made, that I felt inspired to create a cigar magazine. To create Cigar Aficionado. That was the trip when I decided that before I died, I wanted to have a cigar magazine.

We shot a short video while we were there. You can watch it by clicking here.

Cuba, and in particular El Laguito, will always hold a special place in my heart. I can't tell you how glad I am that I returned, and I can guarantee you that it will not be ten years before I visit again.

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"I read with intrest your August editors note about yoir mayor bloombergs effort to eliminate smoking i'v worked inbgovernment for over 35yrs snd what he is doing comes at no surprise he is a founding member of the nannystate on a lighter note as a novice cigar smoker your magizine has been a great addition to my readings i lookforward to seeing it in my mailbox looking forward to this years big smoke in NY had a great time last year" —June 15, 2012 19:50 PM
"Marvin, I have been a loyal reader since the begining. As I sit here in my Bradington Young chair bought for $35 dollars at the Salvation Army Thrift Store in San Pedro California, I'm surrounded by all the faces that have ever been on our literary cigar mag. I can't help but think about why a poet hasn't graced us yet. Tonight I smoke a Padilla Series 68 and ask that you might consider plastering the cover of a future edition with Charles Bukowski; the underword poet laurete of Los Angeles and perhaps the greatest cigar aficionado that ever wrote poesy. In the clouds of Blue, John "tori inu" Holt Active Duty AF Boston MA" —November 30, 2011 00:54 AM
"Marvin, as you might be aware by now-Bert Gottfried has passed. His impact to the industry and more specifically his contribution to the Oliva family are unmeasurable...I am hoping that there will be special recognition and an article outlining his life's achievements and contributions to the industry in you next print issue, and online...thank you." —September 24, 2011 09:28 AM
"Marvin, I was lucky and bought the First Issue of Cigar Aficionado off of a guy in Mint condition. I had been looking for years for a good one. The one I bought has the Bar Code on the Front Cover and most of the others I have seen don't have it on the front cover? Do you know if I have a fake or somthing?" —June 18, 2011 22:37 PM
"" —June 6, 2011 23:13 PM
"" —June 6, 2011 23:13 PM
"Marvin, Great to see you on the video and in Cuba again. I'm glad to see that you were able to take some time off from the golf courses and to get back to some real cigars. Amicalement, Guy" —March 26, 2011 07:48 AM
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"Marvin, Thank you for turning your dream into reality. How has El Laguito changed in this time? Cuban workers are generally suffering in a weak local economy; how was morale at the factory? On another note, I visited Edward Sahakian at Davidoff London and in the course of our chat I was disappointed to find that Cigar Aficionado was not heavily stocked there (the same for the JJ Fox store at Harrods, London). I would love to see the full stock of my favourite Cigar magazine alongside my favourite cigars. Your thoughts? With best wishes, Sen Luo, London, England" —March 2, 2011 19:09 PM
"A little inspiration can lead to great outcomes. The Cigar Aficionado magazine is one of those. What a great homecoming to the birthplace of your inspiration. I look forward to the results each issue." —March 1, 2011 19:44 PM
"Mr Shanken It is good to see you in the blogs. I'm glad you made it back to the cigar motherland and most of all that you decided to make a cigar magazine. (and web site). George NY" —February 28, 2011 18:25 PM

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