13th Festival gala dinner

Buenos noches from Pabexpo where the 13th Festival gala dinner is taking place

Over 1500 aficionados,retailers,importers and Havana cigar devotees are enjoying the main event of the year in our industry

A celebration of the brand of Montecristo and the introduction to the trade of the Montecristo Gran Reserva which will be released in varnished cabinets of 15 cigars in the near future

The evening started with our goodie bag containing the Festival presentation case of 2 Monte Gran Reserva and a Monte 5 pre dinner, the second cigar is a Montecristo Open Master

My table is pretty close to the stage and I’m sitting next to Simon Chase of Hunters and Frankau 🙂 deja vu of the best type !

Great entertainment- singers and dancers non stop throughout the evening and a some pretty decent wines too, a slick event

The auction Lots are more outrageous than ever !…

Lot 1 : Upmann humidor 320 cigars including the new half coronas,Royal robustos,Noellas and Butifarras

Lot 2 : Hoyo humidor 300 cigars including Extravaganzas,Maravillas,Short Hoyo Piramides,Gran Piramides and Obsequios

Lot 3: Romeo humidor 300 cigars including Aguilas and Fabulosos no 6

Lot 4 Partagas humidor 350 cigars including Serie E no 2,Serie B and C as well as Serie P No 3

Lot 5 Montecristo humidor 350 cigars including Agulias,double coronas and Maravillas no 1

Lot 6 Robaina humidor 220 cigars including Maestros and Finuras

Lot 7 Cohiba humidor 400 cigars including Cohiba 1966,Robusto Especial and Sublimes Extra

Loads of photos to add to the website when I’m back in London on Monday !

Tomorrow I’ll be at the cocktail Party at Partagas and perhaps Tropicana in the evening….. its a tough job

Peaceful puffing




Simon Chase is the auctioneer for Habanos SA and all proceeds are donated to the Cuban health system

Winning bids in Euros

Lot 1 52,000
2 65,000
3 85,000
4 60,000
5 75,000
6 40,000 unsold reserve not reached
7 450,000

Habanos awards

Production : Armando Trujillo Gonzales
Business : Dr Maximilliam Herzog
Communication : Adriano Martinez

Havana trip no.51!

Just back from Havana- my 51st trip since 1997 🙂 and I’m still enjoying it as much as ever despite it being a bit of a ‘busman’s holiday’. The weather was a vast improvement from my January trip and I’m hoping it gets even warmer for the Festival in a week’s time ( that will be trip 52 !) Havana is packed with tourists this time of year and I was also surprised to see quite a few of the cigar crowd out and about which made it all the more fun for me.

We started the trip in style with a champagne breakfast at Caviar House in Gatwick airport and a comfortable Virgin flight to Jose Marti. Managed to get out of the airport in record time ( only time for a Partagas short ) and head straight to Partagas LCDH to smoke some custom blend La China’s. Great smokes for ‘freshies’ and most welcomed after the long 10 ½ hour flight with some good 7 year old rum ( thank you Abel !) The receptionist on the exec floor of the Nacional actually greeted me by name when I checked in….that’s when you know you have been to the same hotel too many times! But it’s still my favourite spot for a smoke and old habits die hard.

On Thursday we did the mega cigar crawl of Partagas, Palacio, Melia Habana, Comodoro, Nacional and 5th y 16th. The main smokes of the day were Cohiba BHK’s of all sizes with the odd UK regional Punch Serie D’Oro no. 1 thrown in between. I swear the BHK blend is unlike any other ( no doubt due to the medio tiempo leaf) and the cigars just get better and better.

We had been selling BHK56 faster than the other vitolas but it seems that BHK52’s are now catching up, possibly due to the rating in Cigar Aficionado ( for once I’ll agree with them !)

Looooong herf at 5th y 16th La Casa which seems to be coming back to life after a few quiet years although the humidor didn’t look terribly well stocked. Perhaps they will stock it up before Festival week. See photo below of us having a cigar with Carlos Robaina ( son of the late and legendary Alejandro)

Friday we took a mega day road trip to Varedero, Cienfuegos and Trinidad. I have not visited the two latter and was very surprised how lovely Cienfuegos is. Shops were well stocked, streets were clean and there was a great buzz. We walked all over the place and visited the museum which was very interesting with lots of detail and exhibits about the Revolution.

If Havana is in a time warp then Trinidad is twice as time warped! Cobble stoned streets etc al! of course I had to smoke a Trinidad in Trinidad so I settled on an Ingenios limited edition 🙂

Saturday was a chilled out day and some decent music in the evening with a few more Cohiba Behike and Sunday it was back to Jose Marti airport for the flight back home. I was lucky enough to get an upgrade on the flight and of course the Upper Class lounge has a smoking area 🙂 so….one last custom blend ( this time from Santos) and I was set up for the flight!

Back to the office for a few days in rainy London and then I’m off for trip no.52 for the February ‘Festival del Habano’ – can’t wait 🙂

Have a great week

Peaceful puffing



Scotch and Cigar Heaven!

Last week was a busy one as I spent a few days at our whisky and cigar stores in Glasgow and Edinburgh where my partner Ron Morrison and I enjoyed our latest Robert Graham Ltd Independent bottled single malt whiskies.

We are hoping these will be award winners this year. Deanston 1995 I can tell you is an outrageously good match with Cohiba BHK52’s which we smoked back to back into the wee small hours.

Checkout the Robert Graham Ltd scotch single malt range on this link

Checkout Cohiba Behike on this link

I think Cigar Aficionado magazine recently gave an exceptionally high rating to Behike and they were not wrong. The blend is unlike any other Cohiba, smoother and sweeter and they just keep improving every time I revisit them.

Trip number 51 to Havana is this week as I am trying to escape the lousy London weather and hoping it will be a bit warmer smoking a cigar or two with some Cuban rum round the pool of the Hotel Nacional 🙂

Back in my London office we have finally approved the plans for our new walk in humidor due to be built at the end of April – we’re looking forward to it as once again we are completely out of space to store Havanas. We actually age a proportion of our inventory for later release which I understand cigar merchants used to do many years ago,

I’ve been smoking quite a few Partagas 165th anniversary cigars over the last week and they show great promise. Good smokes now, well balanced and of perfect appearance with smooth vein free wrapper and of course the special Partagas anniversary band. I have 2 humidors open and am making twin sets of the 109’s and sublimes available for friends to try before they buy a complete humidor. Checkout the photos on this link

Have a smokey week… I know I will!

Peaceful puffing