Far below, the blue of ocean was slowly replaced by the green of earth as the big jet dipped toward terra firma. Less than an hour ago we took off from Miami International Airport, and now we were about to land in Havana. The wheels touched down, and a few minutes later, I stepped down the gangway and onto the runway, hit by the heat of the tropics and the bright sky above. I was back in Cuba.
I'll be in Havana all week with executive editor Gordon Mott for the Habanos Festival, the annual gathering of retailers, distributors and cigar lovers from all around the world. This is the week we'll find out what's new and coming your way over the rest of the year.
I wasted little time getting a cigar. Minutes after my bags were in my room at the Melia Cohiba hotel, I went down to the hotel's cigar shop (it has a fine Casa del Habano) and grabbed two recent production Bolivar Belicoso Finos, one for me, one for Gordon. The cigar (which rated 93 points in its most recent Cigar Aficionado taste test) was youthful, but delicious, with great oils to the wrapper, a hearty, bold flavor—just what you would expect from a Bolivar. Great way to start our smoking week
We stopped in at one of Havana's best (and best known) cigar shops, the La Casa del Habano at Fifth Avenue, known as Quinta Avenida. The shop was fuller than I've ever seen, with people in each and every room. The humidor was brimming with smokes, with an especially strong amount of Cohiba Behikes. Carlos Robaina, one of the men who runs the shop, said he had many cigars, and showed off boxes full of smokes that had yet to be placed on display in the humidor.
Tonight, we're off to the first official function of the festival, a dinner where we expect to try the new Hoyo Le Hoyo and the ultra-short Partagás Serie D No. 6 that Gordon wrote about yesterday.
We're just getting started. Keep checking back from updates from Cuba. We'll keep you informed.