Just back from Havana having enjoyed a splendid few days at the annual Partagas Festival. I’ve attended all of the festivals bar one over the last 18 years and it’s one of the high points on my travel calendar every year.
This was the first trip to Havana for Karyn (wife/co – Director) and she enjoyed it immensely and can’t wait to come back for another Festival next year 🙂 We stayed at Parque Central (the new part) and the location was perfect for showing her around Old Havana. Our trip included visiting Indian caves, Las Terrazes and Pinar del Rio. We saw the most beautiful rainbow over Vinales from Los Jazmines. Heaven for a cigar merchant like me!
The November Partagas Festival has a very different vibe to the February/March Havana Festival as it’s a different crowd, mainly ‘Friends of Partagas’ connoisseurs and aficionados from all over the world as opposed to many cigar industry folk at the February Festival. A lot of the crowd know each other for many years but this is our annual opportunity to meet up and herf our favourite cigars together.
It was great to see a lot of new faces too this year and the gala dinner was one of the best I have ever attended. It was held at El Laguito and the room was decadent to say the least. The entertainment was great and in fact this was the first time it was not ‘Cuban too loud‘!
We were spoiled with an insane amount of 170th anniversary double banded cigars including Montecristo and Romeo Anejados, Bolivar Belicosos, H. Upmann Connoisseur A, Hoyo Epicure No. 2 and Partagas Serie P No. 2, as well as some pretty decent wine and excellent Santiago rum (my current favourite!)
As usual I had a fabulous table at the front thanks to my old friend Amir and we were in pole position for the charity auction. The auction Lots were truly outstanding this year in terms of the humidors as well as the cigars. All proceeds go to the Cuban National Health Service and C.Gars Ltd proudly made a substantial donation to this most worthy cause. Whilst Cuba is still punished by the US Embargo all other means of support are needed.
I had my first experience of the Cuban National health Service as Karyn was bitten by something (not me!) and her arm blew up so we zoomed her over to the International hospital and were seen within minutes by a very nice doctor, prescribed and dispensed the relevant drugs immediately and all for 30 quid… Can’t do that in the UK even if you go private! 24 hours later thankfully Karyn was better.
I managed to arrange a private factory tour at La Corona thanks to Nestor Valera (Director of LDCH franchise division) and my thanks to his assistant Victor and la Corona Director Osmar Hernandez Fuentes for a comprehensive and interesting tour.
La Corona is a huge factory with over 250 rollers in the Galera and we were introduced and welcomed with their chavetas being banged on the rolling tables which was very cool.
Whilst there is something of a shortage of large wrapper leaf in Cuba at this time, the factory was definitely at full production with many different brands and vitola including Romeo Gran Reserva and Hoyo Hermosos No. 4 Anejados which looked good enough to eat!
Osmar assured us that quality control is undertaken at every stage of production and it was great to see a room full of Drawmaster machines being used.
The tour ended with a tasting of the Romeo Wide Churchill Gran Reserva. This cigar was one of the finest I have smoked in years. Truly a perfect expression of the Havana cigar. I can’t wait for them to be released.
We zoomed round a few cigar shops as usual including Melia Habana, Partagas and Palacio and whilst they were all pretty well stocked up the range itself was fairly thin i.e. nothing terribly interesting. No sign of any BHK’s which I now understand are just about sold out everywhere.
In other news this week…
Our new Turmeaus shop in Knutsford is almost complete and we are planning a soft opening at the end of first week December. Charming location for this beautifully designed shop if I do say so myself. The planned extensive range of premium cigars, tobacco, accessories, whisky and rum as well as a comfortable sampling lounge should please my clients in the North West immensely. I can’t wait to get over there in a few weeks’ time 🙂
Our Winter Cigar Auction is being held this Monday from 2pm at the Bulgari Hotel and is now more or less sold out. 359 splendid cigar Lots including magnificent Pre Embargo, Davidoff, Dunhill. Limited edition aged and rare Havanas will be sold. Lovely article in Cigar Aficionado about our auctions.
If you can’t make the auction event there is still time to register to bid online. Online bidder registration closes Friday at midnight. Last viewings will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Sunday by appointment at our London offices. Very best of luck to all of our bidders and sellers.
We will be enjoying a whisky tasting (thanks to Robert Grahams Ltd single malt whiskies) and a cigar tasting featuring Montecristo Media Coronas and Bolivar Belgravia UK Regional Edition following the auction sale (for pre booked guests) together with canapes at the delightful Sahakian Cigar lounge ably managed by our friend Mike Choi.
If that’s not enough action for me ☺ next Tuesday we will be co – sponsoring and enjoying the Snow Queen Cigar Smoker of the year dinner at the beautiful Boisdale Canary Wharf. A star studded guest list is expected and we will be treated to the best of entertainment drinks and smokes as well as the cigars awards for the following categories:
The Snow Queen Cigar Smoker of the Year
The Snow Queen Cigar Lifetime Achievement Award
The Cigar Writer of the Year
The Cigar Terrace or Cigar Lounge of the Year
The Cigar Retailer of the Year
The Cigar Producer of the Year
The Cigar of the Year
Needless to say this was a sold out event as soon as the tickets were released. I have a wonderful and rather huge table of C.Gars guest and can’t wait for this event!