Cigar Aficionado

Back in the Cigar Capital

I am on my second cortado this morning as I write this blog from Havana. And it’s sooo good. The small and thick sweet espresso with hot milk is like thick, warm milk chocolate. I would smoke a cigar with it right now but I have some meetings with people from Habanos S.A., the global marketing and distribution company for Cuban cigars, and they have a number of cigars they want me to try. I think they want me to smoke the new limitadas as well as the culebras. But I am not sure. I will report back later.

I did smoke a couple of cigars yesterday after I arrived from London on my direct flight with Virgin Atlantic. I went over to a friend’s house and fired up a Punch Punch. It was from March 2000. What a drag. It was bitter and bland. At least it drew well. But it reminded me how dull, even rotten, cigars from this period were. I smoked it for about 10 minutes and threw it in the street before I went to the ballet, Carmen, with some friends at the National Theater in Old Havana.

I like the fact that you see more cigar butts than cigarette butts in this dusty city by the sea. I seldom see smashed cigar butts in my home state--the People’s Republic of California. I went for a run this morning down the Malecon and I jumped over numerous smashed cigar butts--so much for a smoke free state. I cringe with the thought of all the health fascists in America that don’t even believe in the personal liberties of people enough to even allow people to smoke outside anymore. But that’s another column.

I did have a fabulous cigar already. It was a Rey del Mundo Grandes de España, which is no longer made. The long and refined smoke from 1996 delivered wonderfully fresh aromas and flavors. It showed tea, tobacco, citrus and nutty character. It was so clean and beautiful. I gave it 93 points. I smoked it with a mojito before dinner at El Templete, the terraced restaurant on the Malecon near Plaza de San Francisco. It’s one of my favorite restaurants at the moment in Havana and serves excellent fresh fish.

Havana is the cigar capital in the world. No one can deny that. Stay tuned.

"James I know that you are having a great time, when you see Deborah at Partagas say Hola, take care." —September 25, 2007 02:18 AM
"You should take a personal physician with you on these trips. One never knows when one might suddenly come down with nicotine poisoning. I am certain I could arrange some time off for such an assignment." —September 24, 2007 15:21 PM