Cigar Aficionado

Havana Corner: More Manly Cigars From Havana

You had better like giant Cuban cigars, because I was amazed to see hundreds of Salomones on the workbenches of cigar rollers at the Partagas factory in Havana in January. I seldom smoke such big, in-your-face cigars. It's just a little too much, both the size and the strength, except for after a gigantic meal or something special. The Cuaba Salomone measures a whopping 57 ring gauge by a little more than 7 inches long.

Apparently there is a big following among cigar aficionados for huge cigars, and the Cubans believe that the market needs more of them. Salomones, also known as large perfectos or double figurados, are some of the most popular cigar sizes, or vitolas, custom-made in Havana's cigar shops. It seems that just about every Tom, Dick or Harry calling himself a cigar aficionado (already suspect) has one in his pocket as he walks down the streets of Havana. I guess it has something to do with the "my cigar is bigger than yours" theory, but I never asked.

Perhaps this popularity of Salomones in Havana is why the Salomones de Cuaba have only recently hit the market in Europe. They were available in Havana earlier this year. Prices will vary by market, but expect to pay between $20 and $30 apiece for these manly cigars.

Cuaba Salomones originally came in a limited-edition humidor of 47 smokes, but those particular cigars had about one inch shaved off the front. The large perfectos will soon be available on a regular basis in cedar boxes of 10.

The original Salomones from Cuaba was one of my most impressive smokes of young cigars over the last five years. I score the limited-edition Cuaba Salomones II 97 points. Unfortunately, I have not yet had the chance to smoke the new edition.

The cigars are said to be made in the Romeo y Julieta factory in Havana, along with other Cuaba smokes. The Cubans say that production is limited, although they never said how limited. Regardless, they are hard cigars to roll, demanding a lot of skill and time. A top roller can make only about 50 or 60 in a day.

The modern Salomone was the brainchild of Christopher Wolters, an energetic cigar merchant from Dusseldörf, Germany. The Partagas factory discreetly made a limited production of the cigars in the mid-1990s. Only 5,000 of the large figurados were produced. They were sold in individually numbered, specially designed wooden humidors (all different in style), each with two bundles of 25 cigars each. They retailed for about $10,000 in the beginning and continue to sell for about the same price in auctions and from private individuals.

Wolters said at the time that "the idea was to keep the Cubans making such wonderfully shaped cigars" and that he wanted "to keep the tradition going" for figurados.

I am sure it is the same today, but now let's see if there is a market for the cigars in 2003.

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