Cigar Aficionado

The Snake is Back from Cuba

I can't wait to get my hands on the new Partagas Culebras. The hand-made cigars are arriving from Cuba in the market in the next few weeks. And they are completely hand-made. In the past, they were made with short filler tobacco and partially machine made. But the Cubans have upgraded them. Check out the photo below.

I haven't smoked a culebra in a long, long time, but I still remember the one of the first times I did. It was with Eric de Rothschild at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild in the mid-1980s. Rothschild, who oversees the first growth Bordeaux, was a keen cigar smoker at the time and had stocks of cigars aging in London at Robert Lewis Cigar Merchants.

"James, I like my cigars with a minimum of seven years of box age," he told me. I was not about to complain. In fact, the culebras was a mild and delicious smoke.

I have to admit that it was sort of weird smoking the twisted cigar. As you know, a culebras, which means snakes in Spanish, are actually three twisted cigars wrapped together. The new Partagas are each 5 3/4 inches long with a 39 ring gauge. You have to take it apart and then smoke one of the three. I once saw some idiot smoking all three together. He seriously didn't know you have to take them apart! Traditionally, cigar rollers in Cuba were allowed one culebra per day to take home when they finished their work. I think it went out of fashion a short while after the revolution. Shame.

Anyway, we can all enjoy a good Cuban culebra in a few weeks. Maybe the tradition will start up again?

"The last time I smoked a twisted cigar, it was a rum soaked Crook, in college. So, I'm looking forward to this. Suspect it will be a lot better than the rum soaked crook!" —September 12, 2007 21:25 PM