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PARTAGAS 157TH DINNER - 2002

Dear Friends,

It was my pleasure to escort my fellow cigar aficionados for a week of Havana cigars and sightseeing to coincide with the Anniversary dinner, which celebrated 157 years of the Partagas brand as well as the 11th Anniversary of the exquisite Casa Del Habanos cigar shop in the Partagas factory.

A memorable time was had by all and I'd like to share some of the highlights of our trip.

I was collected by a 1957 Chevrolet from Havana airport and taken to meet the group at the Hotel Nacional, where we were staying. Welcome drinks of Mojitos and Cuba Libre were waiting matched up with delicious 1987 Davidoff No.2. The weather was perfectly warm and not too humid. It was a starry night and the view from the terrace at the Nacional was a delight after a long journey. The band was playing "Che Guevara". By the end of the trip I could almost sing along with them!

DAY 1

Our luxury air-conditioned coach collected us after breakfast and escorted by Mike Mirecki of Cuba Welcome Travel, we visited some of the excellent cigar shops around Vedado and Miramar. Including:

- Fifth Avenue in Miramar
- Casa Amistad
- La Corona
- Robaina's shop at Melia Habana
- Partagas.

A little disappointed that there were few, if any, unusual Havanas, and in fact stocks on the shelves looked like they were around 50% of the levels they were at last February.

It was rumoured that Steven Spielberg had visited the Partagas factory the day before and met with Fidel Castro. It was also rumoured that they have both autographed some special humidors for the auction at the Partagas dinner.

The Partagas shop had made a limited edition of 11 special humidors to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the shop containing 157 cigars of various vitolas, all specially banded with the Partagas XI black anniversary cigar label.

C.GARS Ltd have purchased humidor number 6 signed by Abel Esposito (the manager of the Partagas shop). This anniversary humidor contains the following fine cigars:

- 15 Diademas
- 15 Gran Coronas
- 15 Piramides
- 15 Julietas
- 15 Robusto Extra
- 15 "109s"
- 15 Prominentes
- 15 Dalias
- 15 Robustos
- 7 Flor De Leopoldina
- 15 Marevas.

We went on to enjoy a thorough tour in the Partagas factory, which boasts some 250 rollers. I was surprised, but delighted to see brand new "draw test" machines, which demonstrate the commitment that Habanos have to raise the levels of quality control.

Seeing all these beautiful cigars being rolled, we moved on to the VIP lounge in the Partagas shop to enjoy some custom rolled cigars from Cueto with some 7 year old Havana Club and coffee.

Early evening was spent at a very busy cocktail party, again, at the Partagas factory with generous and tasty snacks, cigars and mojitos being offered throughout the evening.

Dinner was enjoyed at La Guarida. The restaurant where the film Strawberries and Chocolate was filmed. The food was superb, and it was matched by the attentive service. Our group had grown so large, that we took over one complete side of the restaurant, but made enough noise and smoke for the whole restaurant.

DAY 2

We planned an early start to visit the Pinar Del Rio tabacco plantations, but a technical hitch in our coach caused us to do a coach swap after a few miles. Not wanting to make a drama out of a crisis Mike Mirecki kindly broke out a box of Havana cigars and a bottle of 7 years old rum!

Arriving at Los Jasmines hotel, we admired the beautiful views over the Vinales. Driving around the plantations, it was not great deal to see in terms of tobacco plants, as the recent hurricanes have wiped them out and they only recently been replanted.

We visited the Indian caves, and admired the stalagmites and stalactites.... and enjoyed the sight of one of our companions wives (L.A.) riding a cuban bull :-).
 

The Partagas anniversary dinner was held at the Melia Cohiba hotel. Following cocktails round the swimming pool and meeting with and chatting to many old friends, we moved on to the dining room to enjoy an evening of cigars, fine food, wine and rum.

"Friends" of the Partagas Casa Del Habanos were invited on stage for a presentation gift of the enormous Partagas Visible Inmensas cigar.

The highlight of the evening was the auction conducted by the world famous collectionista Valerio Cornale. Three very special 157th Anniversary humidors containing specially banded Partagas XI cigars were offered. Each humidor was autographed by both Fidel Castro and Steven Spielberg. All proceeds went to the Cuban health charity.

The largest and perhaps the most beautiful humidor was purchased by C.GARS Ltd and contains the following special cigars:

- 15 Diademas
- 15 Gran Corona
- 25 Prominente
- 25 Salomones
- 25 Julieta
- 25 Dalias.

The guests at the dinner were amazed to see the longest and largest cigar ever rolled put on display. Jose Cueto, one of the best rollers in Havana rolled this 15.3 metre long cigar, which has been enter in the Guinness book of records.

The evening ended with music and dancing and was certainly a night to remember.

DAY 3

Old Havana may be crumbling in places, but still has enormous charm from the art deco buildings to the 1950s cars. Our day was spent walking around the city, listening to the sounds of the bands in the bars and restaurants, as well as enjoying a daiquiri at El Floridita, one of Hemingway's regular watering holes, and mooching around the Artesenio market for souvenirs.

Dinner was enjoyed at the excellent Hostel Conde De Villanueva. Though late at night following a first class meal, we managed to persuade the manager to open the cigar shop so we could take a look around and smoke a final cigar of the evening.

DAY 4

The Nacional is one of the few hotels in Havana that boasts a swimming pool so we had a free day for topping up the tan as well as sipping Cuba Libre and sampling some more fine cigars :-).

Dinner was enjoyed with a very large group of friends at the excellent paladar La Fontana in the open air, and thanks to the generosity of our very good Saudi friend.
Again, excellent music, copious amounts of rum and some wonderful Carlos Valdes custom made Havanas were consumed.

DAY 5

The morning was spent with more sightseeing in old Havana, checking out the Cathedral Square and El Moro castle. The afternoon was enjoyed on the beach at Club Havana, having been driven there in a open top 1950s Oldsmobile.

DAY 6

A rum running day! We searched the city to find the finest rums..... Metusalem 15, Havana Club 15, San Cristobal, Mulata and others. I think the C.GARS Ltd bar will be well stocked up for christmas. And of course, our clients are always welcome for a drink and a smoke by appointment.

Dinner at Don Giovanni, overlooking the Malecon on a warm evening, accompanied by Havana Club 15 and Dunhill Malecon. A perfect ending to a wonderful week.

My thanks to Mike Mirecki of Cuba Welcome Travel for arranging such an excellent trip... and my thanks to our group of travellers/cigar aficionados for sharing great smokes and the best of laughs together.

Finally, thanks to C.GARS Ltd for asking me to represent them on this trip.

Hope you'll join me on my next trip to Havana for the Festival Del Habanos in February 2003...... don't hesitate to contact me for details.

Salute!

MO
C.GARS Ltd of London and Liverpool
http://www.cgarsltd.co.uk

Cigar Trips to Cuba? ...... no problem!
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Click on the picture to view a larger image
The Partagas Limited Edition Humidor No.6 signed by Abel Esposito at the Partagas factory Casa Del Habanos. Tray no 4 of the Limited Edition Humidor Tray no 3 of the Limited Edition Humidor Tray no 2 of the Limited Edition Humidor
Tray no 1 of the Limited Edition Humidor Top Inlay of the Limited Edition Humidor The view of the open Limited Edition Humidor Top tray in the Partagas Anniversary Limited Edition Humidor
No.6 of 11
The Partagas Factory Casa Del Habanos Partagas Coctail Party The VIP Lounge at the Partagas Factory One of our vehicles.... we wish!!!!
Joe A. needed his windows clear to see the tobacco plants! Some strange creations made from tobacco leaf found at the Casa Del
Habanos in Pinar Del Rio.
The smokable version of Robaina... made of tobacco! Don Alejandro Robaina has made a new friend with the shy Laura A
One our tables at the Partagas dinner in the Melia Cohiba hotel The three special anniversary humidors signed by Fidel Castro and Steven
Spielberg
Specially banded and specially made Partagas Visible Inmensos Hold on...that cigar looks edible! .... and it was :-)
The Guiness book of records confirmed longest and largest cigar in the world. Partagas Anniversary box of three specially banded cigars made to celebrate the XI anniversary of the Casa Del Habanos of the Partagas factory. Includes "109", robusto extra and dalias Something got lost in the translation! .... The fire instruction at the
Hotel Nacional.
Partagas X Anniversary A selection of Partagas XI anniversary cigars Carlos Valdes and the boys at Casa Amistad
Pinar Del Rio tobacco plantations Laura A. provided great entertainment throughout the whole trip :-) Pinar Del Rio Plantations Invitation printed on a cedar sheet to a coctail party at the Casa Del Habano at the Partagas Factory on the 6th November
A cedar "coaster" use at the coctail party This is a front cover of the programme for the whole Partagas 11th
Anniversary visit.
The menu from the Partagas dinner The inside of the programme
The front cover of the official invitation for the 11th Anniversary
dinner at the Melia Cohiba Hotel
The gift bag we
were given at the
Anniversary dinner
Cigar sleeve... 10th Anniversary of the Partagas Factory

The inside of the invitation

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