Cuba's reboot of the Vegueros brand is just about ready for retail. The cigars, made in Western Cuba rather than the capital of Havana, debuted at the 2013 Habanos Festival, but delays have kept them off the market. Fernando Domínguez, premium cigar director for Imperial Tobacco PLC, which owns half of Habanos S.A., told Cigar Insider in Havana that the brand would finally be out in April.
Vegueros has been redone with a new look, new blend, new prices and new sizes. The three new sizes are Mañanitas, a small petit belicoso, the Entretiempos, a robusto-style size and the Tapados, which is the longest of the trio. The brand is aimed at the mid- to low-end of the cigar market, and Habanos said it would be priced very moderately, around the same level as Jose L. Piedra. The cigar has also been reblended to be medium in body.
The smokes are all quite short. Tapados measures 4 3/4 inches by 46 ring, Entretiempos is 4 3/8 by 52 and Mañanitas is 4 inches by 46. The look is completely new as well: the cigars are being packed in bright, upright boxes containing 16 cigars each, a way to accentuate the bargain element of the smoke, and in packs of five. The packaging is modern and eye-catching, with lots of white, some black and the traditional Vegueros green.
These new sizes are quite the departure from the original line, which did not have any cigars thicker than 42 ring gauge. The four original vitolas perfectly mirrored some of the thin ring gauges found in the Cohiba line, even down to the pigtailed caps. The Vegueros Especiales No. 1 (7 1/2 by 38) was the same size as the iconic Cohiba Lancero; the Especiales No. 2 (6 by 38) mimicked the Cohiba Especiales, the Vegueros Seoane (5 by 33) was a replica of the Cohiba Exquisitos and the Vegueros Mareva shared the same dimensions with the Cohiba Siglo II. They were never marketed as being analogous to Cohiba and Habanos always claimed the Vegueros brand as being a farmer's cigar (veguero means "farmer").
The original Vegueros, which was first introduced commercially in 1996, always stood out because it was the rare cigar made in Pinar del Río, the area of Western Cuba far better known for tobacco farming than cigar rolling. Just as before, the cigars are being rolled at the Francisco Donatién factory in Pinar del Río, a cigar factory that sits on the site of a former prison. The factory also rolls the Trinidad brand, which originally was made in Havana, in El Laguito.