The cigars were plentiful and powerful, the rum was exquisite and the crowd was bigger than ever for the final night of Cuba's Habanos Festival.
Well over 1,200 people filed into the vast room on Friday night, each of them handed a new Cohiba Medio Siglo cigar (short as a Siglo I, fat as a Siglo VI) and a goodie bag brimming with Cohiba memorabilia, accessories and cigars.
The big question heading into the evening revolved around the star smoke of the Festival, the Cohiba 50 Aniversario. The Habanos Festival is like a United Nations of cigars, with people coming to Cuba from all over the world. I spoke to many of them prior to the gala, and some thought Habanos would give out a sample of the 50th Anniversary Cohiba, but I bet against it. After all, this is an ultra-rare, ultra-limited smoke with numbers on each cigar.
As I expected, the Cohiba 50 Aniversario wasn't handed out. But it was at the dinner, inside one of the 50 humidors—number one to be precise. It was auctioned off at the conclusion of the (quite long) evening.
The Cohiba humidor was the star of the night. The first humidor of the special Cohiba series, the last item on the block, went for a staggering 320,000 euro ($350,800), bringing the total raised at the auction to 865,000 euro ($948,256). The money raised will go to Cuban public health system.
While that special cigar was not handed out, many others were, including the Cohiba Majestuoso 1966. People at the dinner received two of the fat smokes, which measure 5 7/8 inches by 58 ring gauge. The cigars have secondary bands bearing the 50th anniversary logo. They are limited, too, and also will come in humidors. Just under 40,000 will be sold. No word on price yet, and I didn't try the cigar.
I did try the Media Siglo, and it was quite good, brimming with robust, heavy flavor, just what you want in a Cohiba. It's a fun shape, a tasty cigar and there should be lots of them when they go on sale.
The evening also featured a Cohiba Robusto, a Cohiba Siglo VI, and a Cohiba Behike BHK 54, which (like all Behikes) was absent on the shelves of Cuba's shops on this trip. To pair with it all? Cohiba Union rum, which is quite expensive and quite good.
All in all, it was a fine night for lovers of Cohiba, and a fitting end to the Habanos Festival. The week in Cuba flew by. I'm already thinking about going back.