This blog comes to you from the Hotel Nacional in sunny Havana where I have been enjoying the annual Partagas Festival week.
I decided to take a bunch of friends to meet Alejandro Robaina on Thursday (with the kind assistance of my friend Amir) but thought as we are travelling quite a distance we would also take in The Indian Caves, Viniales and a few other stops on the way…. it was a long day but with a comfortable minibus and a few bottles of Santiago rum in the bus as well as some great smokes, a great day was had by all. I have some great photos for the website in a couple of days time.
Robaina seemed to be in good spirits considering he is over 90 and as he lit up a rough looking little cigar that looked like he had just bunched it, he quipped that he is “proof that you live a long life if you smoke Havana cigars”!
Friday morning we had the pleasure of a tour of El Laguito where we saw a great deal of Cohiba Robustos and Siglo VI being rolled as well as various other vitolas. Note that code LBT NOV 09 is El Laguito 🙂
The gala dinner was held at the Habana Libre Hotel (Havana Hilton before the Revolution) and it was the best event I have attended in the last 10 years, The entertainment was splendid and the cigars rolled by La China plentiful and quite beautiful (photos to follow as soon as I get back to London) The charity auction raised over 30,000 C.U.C’s and the event was attended by over 300 Friends of Partagas.
The “Amigos de Partagas” were called to the stage to receive goodie bags which included a book of memories from past Festivals. I counted 5 photos of me! (glad I never wore the same jacket twice!)
The Italian contingent was plentiful as usual and it was great to see Massimo, Francesco and friends. Simon Chase from Hunters and Frankau, Ajay Patel from LCDH London and me of course were happy to represent the UK Havana cigar trade. Jemma Freeman and Edward Sahakian of Davidoff were also in Havana for the earlier part of the Festival week.
No sign of any unusual cigars in the stores and HC15 rum seems to have gone up in price to 150 C.U.C’s ! but I still enjoyed hefing in 5th Avenue LCDH, Partagas and the Robaina shop at the Melia Habana. Jemma gave me a UK exclusive Juan Lopez Seleccion Suprema to try ” in Havana” and it was sublime truly a great smoke that I believe will mature into a classic.
Last night in Havana and I’m off to the Jazz Cafe, cigar friendly of course. It may be a communist country but smoking indoors seems so civilized!
Humidor photos courtesy of Eric Rigori