I feel like some super-conductor magnet, attracting just about every loose cigar in a country overflowing with a lot of cigars. When I arrived, there was the question in my mind about where I would find my first Cuban smoke, and what it would be. My friend, Max Gutmann from Mexico, answered that worry with an Edmundo Dantes Conde 54, a beautiful cigar made especially for the Mexican market. Quite a way to kick off the week.
Then, I passed through the Casa del Habano in the Meliá Cohiba, and figured I had better buy some smokes so I didn’t run out over the next couple of days. I bought two Montecristo No. 2s and two Romeo y Julieta Churchill Tubos to keep me stocked up.
After those purchases, it seems everyone is worried about me having enough cigars. First, there were two special house cigars given to me by Osmany Rios and Carlos Robaina at the Quinta Avenida store. Haven’t smoked those yet. Then, when I got back to my room, there was a gift box of 10 Cohiba Magico Maduros. I’ve had those in my pocket for the last 24 hours, but something keeps getting in the way.
At the 520th Anniversary dinner where Jim Belushi sang the blues, I decided to tackle the Cuaba Bariay, a huge diadema size double figurado. It turned out to be one of the best Cuban cigars I have smoked. Then, I moved on towards the end of the evening to light up the Montecristo Edición Limitada 2012, a big 55 ring gauge that is just at the beginning of its life—it will be much better after a couple years of box age.
Thursday starting slowly, but as we hit the Casa del Habano owned by Enrique Mons, I was starting to hanker after a smoke. After all, it was almost 10:30 in the morning. Out came a Monsdale, a pigtail head cigar that is made there at the shop. That lasted until lunch with Ajay Patel, the owner of London’s only Casa del Habano. We got through lunch, and then out came a 1992 Partagás Lusitania—read my tasting notes in last year’s May-June issue of Cigar Aficionado’s Connoisseur’s Corner. He also handed an old 1992 Cohiba and a Partagás Serie C No. 1, neither of which I’ve smoked yet, because … I kept running into other cigars.
On my way to dinner at La Guarida, I stopped at a private get-together at the Hotel Nacional where I was handed a Partagás cigar made especially for the festival. It is a delicious, well-balanced smoke that I kept going through a glass of Pol Roger Champagne and all the way to dinner with Jim Belushi and a group of cigar folks from Germany to Mexico to the United States. Between courses (well, when you get rolling, there’s no stopping), I finally lit up the Cohiba Magico Maduro, which turned out to be nicely balanced smoke with a bit of sweetness on the finish.
It took a minute while I was writing this blog to remember my last smoke of the night—so many cigars, so little time. It was a Cohiba 1966 Edición Limitada 2011, another smoke that needs some time to settle down. It’s a powerhouse of flavors but with a youthful overlay of spice that needs to balance out a little bit.
Finally, Dave Savona and I ended up at the bar at the Meliá Cohiba, sipping on Selección de Maestro, a special-aged bottling from Havana Club. I was holding an unlit Romeo y Julieta Churchill, one of my favorite cigars, as well as the remainder of the 1966. I asked Dave if he wanted something to smoke. He looked at me like I was from another planet and said, “No, I’m done today. I’m smoked out.”
I looked at my watch. It was past midnight. I said, “You know, you’re right.” So, I lit the remaining stub of the 1966 and sipped away on the aged rum.
And there’s still 24 hours to go.