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Just arrived back from the 10th Festival del Habanos which perhaps should be called " the biggest cigar party in the world ! "

Whilst most countries have awful anti smoking laws, Cuba is simply heaven for the cigar aficionado as one can enjoy a Puros just about anywhere and everywhere.

The Festival is the perfect opportunity to meet friends, suppliers and clients from all over the world in the Mecca for Havanas and this is the 9th time that I have been privileged to attend and do so.

At the trade convention I caught a glimpse of the Romeo replica humidor due out later this year ..stunning, can't wait for these to be available. The Romeo Replica follows the Partagas and Upmann Replicas from the last 2 years. These are truly stunning collectors items ( only 200 of each made) and contain cigars of the highest quality in terms of blending, construction and appearance.

The Montecristo B Compay Segundo limited edition humidor was available briefly in Havana and sold out immediately. This is sure to sky rocket in value as did the Montecristo Company 95th anniversary humidor.

The opening night gift was a splendid varnished wooden case containing a Hoyo Epicure Especial and H Upmann Magnum 50 both of which are being re-released in 2008 and the Gala dinner gift was a breath taking black varnished case containing 10 specially double banded cigars.

The Gala dinner was a slick affair that lasted till past 1 a.m. and was attended by importers, distributors, retailers and aficionados. We were treated to non stop entertainment from singers and dancers throughout the evening. We smoked Trinidad, San Cristobal and Cohibas throughout the evening accompanied by some of the finest Cuban rums.

Habanos awards were given out and special awards went to Don Alejandro Robaina as well as Simon Chase in recognition for his incredible work over the 10 Festivals. I had the honour of sitting next to Simon and being a guest of Hunters and Frankau for the evening. My thanks to Hunters and Frankau for the invitation

I'll put photos of the auction Lots on the website in the next 24 hours. They were quite spectacular with the exception of a rather strange Romeo humidor which had two roosters on the top! Who am I to judge !:-)Jemma Freeman tells me she loves that humidor !

The auction raises money for the Cuban national Health Service and it was a great success raising some 960,000 Euros. The final lot containing 700 cigars sold to Imperial Tobacco for 260,000 Euros.

My friends and I smoked custom blend double piramides rolled last November for me by Yolanda and we were not disappointed ( well Christoph was with one cigar but he's always complaining!) Full flavour, full strength, smooth and complex...the perfect breakfast smoke;-)

I gifted out many Por Larranaga Magnificos to friends which were well received and hopefully enjoyed in Havana where cigars always seem to taste "better" must be a combination of the mood and the location.

We did a comparative taste test on 5 regional editions and the consensus of best to worst went like this:

1 -Por Larranaga Magnificos

2 -Vegas Robaina Maestro

3 -El Rey del Mundo Vikingos

4 -Ramon Allones gran robusto ( cabinet selection version)

5- Juan Lopez Obus

That said the lowest scoring Juan Lopez still got a 92 rating. I think it just proves that Habanos simply make the most outstanding cigars in the world and it still truly is a unique combination of sun, soil and skill that can not be replicated in any other country.

My buddy Craig was enjoying his first trip to Havana so we took him on a walking tour of all the old haunts La Bodeguita del Medio...for a Mojito, and Floridita for a Daiquiri ( or 3 ! ) Ambos Mundos hotel to see Hemmingway's bedroom and the roof terrace to take in some great views of Havana, El Morro castle...always impressive and a few great cigar shops including my favourite "Robaina shop" at the Melia Habana where manager Manuel always assures a warm welcome, Partagas factory which is probably the best place to meet all the "usual suspects" in Havana:-) and Villa Nueva which is fast becoming a favourite due to the excellent roller there who seem to be able to craft any shape and size cigar you can think of.

Prado Neptuno is still my favourite spot for dinner even though it seems funny eating Italian in Havana! Talking of Italians....always lovely to see Salvatore Parisi and thanks to Valerio for a lovely evening at his home in Havana.

I'll pop some trip photos on the website as soon as I get over my jet lag:-)



Mitch and Zaffie herfing at Partagas VIP room Elena from Moscow herfing at Partagas Mitchell and Rolando (antiques dealer)
Christoph Wolters LCDH Hamburg and Ignacio Balmasera head of LCDH franchise department "Da Boyz" herfing in Havana
Sneak preview of Romeo Romeos cigars from Replica humidor due out later this year. Also Cohiba book humidor
Sneak preview of Cohiba book humidor due out later this year Craig, Mitch and Zaff
Now thats what I call a car :-) Mitch and Chris checking the stock !
Mitch and Chris checking the stock ! Hemmingways room at Ambos Mundos hotel  

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