Habanos Festival 2010
By: Roberto F. Campos* / Photos by Roberto F. Campos and Tito
As always at the beginning of the year, lovers of the best premium cigars meet in the Cuban capital to discover the mystery of the quality of Cuban cigars, this time from February 22 to 26, 2010. Magic, mysticism, quality, experience… many are the keys that can have a direct relation with the highest quality Cuban cigar, the one handmade, with the best leaves, the best formulas and mixes. We are talking about Habanos cigars, the most demanded cigar in the world.
For this matchless vegetal jewel, for her triple condition of soil, climate and producers’ experience, there is an unusual and alluring party, the Habanos Festival, celebrated each year in late February with some one thousand guests from 50 countries attending.
It is always considered a unique opportunity, but even more so in 2010, with the 165th anniversary of Partagas and, as usual, the presentation of new products and many surprises.
A party with great ambience and a great smoke
The axis of the 12th Habanos Festival is the Cohiba and Romeo y Julieta brands, with special relevance for women and Habanos.
The gathering, organized in Havana’s Convention Palace, is one of the most important world meetings for pure premium cigars, considering the high quality of Cuban tobacco.
This time, the honoured brands are of exceeding prestige: Cohiba, created after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, and Romeo y Julieta, 135 years young.
As on previous occasions, the attention of cigar aficionados is fixed on the presentations of new products. Already there are whispers of a mysterious Behike (existing boxes cost 15,000 Euros) and of a new Romeo y Julieta.
The program includes visits to representative cigar factories, a trade fair, seminars, tastings and pairings, a Habanos-sommelier contest, demonstrations of how to skilfully roll a Habanos and visits to tobacco plantations.
The night of welcome at the Grand Theatre in Havana is dedicated to the presentation of new products and a concert by Cuban jazz pianist and six time Grammy winner, Chucho Valdes, and guests.
Another novelty has to do with spirits: an alliance between Habanos and Tequila, just as in previous years between Habanos and Armagnac.
For those wishing more insight into the world of Habanos, there is a talk: “How to identify the age of Habanos boxes”, to be delivered by UK Marketing Director Simon Chase from Hunter and Frankau.
Other festival topics include: how to make a Laguito No. 2, matching Habanos with coffee, Armagnac brandy and Cuban rums by taste and aromas, and Women and Habanos, a new presentation.
For the final touch there is the closing gala at the Pabexpo centre where, amid the finery and entertainment, is the auction of important Habanos and announcement of the Habanos of the Year Award.
The Festival Tradition
The Habanos Festival was first held for two days in 1994 at the Las Ruinas restaurant in the Lenin Park in the Havana suburbs for the 150th Anniversary of the H.Upmann brand. This began a tradition of such meetings that in 1995 saw the initiation of an award for those who contribute most to the product worldwide: the Habanos Man of the Year Award – later Habanos of the Year Award - recognizing that women also collaborate with this product in the world.
By 1999, the organizers gave the glamorous social even the name Festival of Habanos and the gala was extended to five days.