Twenty Years Of Cuba's Cuaba

Twenty Years Of Cuba's Cuaba
Photo/David Savona
Samples of the 20th anniversary Cuaba were passed out at the Habanos Festival.

By now you know that Cuba is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its grand Cohiba brand. We have a feature story in the new Cigar Aficionado all about Cohiba, there are videos on our site about Cohiba, and here in Havana the Habanos Festival is geared around the storied cigar. But there is another anniversary taking place here as well.

The Cuaba brand turns 20 this year, and there is a 20th anniversary smoke built around the event. At the dinner held on Wednesday here, samples of the new cigar were passed out, and a video presentation honoring Cuba's cigar rollers played while I puffed on the new smoke.

Cuaba was a milestone cigar, created at a time when Cuba simply didn't release new brands. I remember the buzz in the office at the time of the launch back in 1996, and we did news stories about it in Cigar Insider and a feature story in Cigar Aficionado. The cigars were small figurados, made without molds.

Those early cigars were rough in appearance and flavor, and I never was a fan of the brand until the release of the Salomon size, a far bigger smoke that had little in common with its diminutive cousins, save for a brand name. The Salomon was rich, robust, refined and elegant, everything you want in a Cuban cigar.

The 20th anniversary Cuaba has far more in common with Salamones than with the original Cuabas. The shape is similar, the taste familiar. I smoked an early sample at the dinner and found it strong and flavorful.

It made me remember one of the best cigars I've ever had at a Habanos Festival, a massive Cuaba Bariay. If you've never smoked Cuaba or defined the brand by its original, small sizes, you're missing out. In the bigger vitolas, it's something marvelous.

As I sat there smoking the cigar, I found it hard to believe it's been 20 years since that launch. The time has truly flown by.