Cigar Aficionado

Havana Corner: Hola de La Habana

I am arriving today in Havana for a weeklong stint in the Cuban capital, and I am excited to see what is new in cigars -- particularly the Petit Edmundo. I smoked it a few months ago in Havana and the cigar nearly blew my head off because it was so strong, but it showed excellent potential. I am curious how it has evolved now that it is on the market.

I had been with some friends visiting the H. Upmann factory in November, and manager Miguel Brown had a big smile on his face when we were smoking the new cigars in his office. I wasn't sure if he was happy because we were some of the first outside the factory to try them, or he found it amusing that we were all half-stoned on the young smokes! The Petit Edmundo measures 4 1/3 inches by 52 ring gauge.

I am a big fan of the regular Edmundo, a 5 1/3 inch by 52 ring cigar under the Montecristo brand that debuted about three years ago. The fat smoke is a spicy mouthful with lots of creamy, coffee character, and it seems to be getting better all the time. It was originally made in the former H. Upmann factory in old Havana behind the Partagas factory, but production was switched to a new factory about a year and a half ago. I think the cigar has gone from being a good, slightly bland smoke to a flavorful must-have for Havana lovers.

The author in the new H. Upmann factory in Havana this past November.
Brown was certainly pleased to hear my views on how the Edmundo had improved, but he also seemed surprised, even annoyed. "We haven't changed anything in particular in making the cigar," he said, when I insisted that the improvement was due to the fact that the cigars were now made in the new H. Upmann factory. I thought I was giving him a compliment…Guess not.

This week, I also hope to try the three new maduro Cohibas that are expected out this year: Genios, 5 1/2 by 52 ring; Mágicos, 4 1/2 by 52; and Secretos, 4 1/3 by 40. They will not be the black type of maduros from other countries but more like the current Cuban limitada range, or Colorado as the Cubans might say. They are all straight-sided smokes with rat-tail ends.

Check in and see what's happening. And leave your comments on my blog in the Cuba section of the forums of the Web site.

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