Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cuba IX Habano Cigar Festival in full efect

Cuba's annual extravaganza celebrating its world-renowned cigars began Monday although it has been reported that "its devoid of its biggest star power this year". Huh?!?! Say what again! (more on this later)

The news wire reports goes on to say that no Hollywood personalities have said they will attend the 9th Habanos Festival. Thank God (or whomever rules Hollywood these days) since us smokers really don't need more added publicity & help driving up prices to one of the last commodities that has not been fully prostituted by the hype & marketing of the fashioned poser crowd. Also acting President Raul Castro, who doesn't care for cigars, is not expected to show. Again I say who gives a shit! Nor is his far-more-famous brother, Fidel Castro, is not well enough to autograph humidors for charity auction during the five-day event. Now for this I am sad because this indeed is for a worthy cause (usually for children hospitals as well for financial assistance for many of the orphaned Cuban children) besides is there any cigar aficionado & history buff who wouldn't want one of those in their collection. Sa what you will about Fidel but he did leave a significant mark in all of our lives while shaping the historical files of this hemisphere.

In any case the true stars of the festival should be (and are) the best hand-rolled cigars which is all that matter especially to those lucky thousand aficionados from all over the world (over 40 countries represented) that are there for the smoking party. "There's not enough space to accommodate all those who were interested," said Manuel Garcia, vice president of Habanos S.A., Cuba's cigar marketing firm.

This year's festival will launch a new line of cigars for the island's signature Cohiba brand known as Maduro 5 or Mature 5, which are finished with a wrapper leaf that has been aged five years. Wrapper leaves represent the final stage of cigar-making and are essential to how well a cigar burns. The Maduro 5 line is scheduled for limited production, but officials would not say how many they will produce or how much each will cost, citing competitive concerns. More in detail of these and other new introductions of LE's, vitolas & regional market editions later.

The fact is that Cuba sold $370 million worth of cigars in 2006, which Habanos said was an 8 percent increase over the previous year with the top markets for Cuban cigars are Spain, France and Germany, as well as Cuba.

Like top wine of France, the taste of top tobacco depends much on the soil and climate in which it is grown. The premium climate of sun-drenched plantations outside Havana and in the neighboring western province of Pinar Del Rio have made Cuban cigars famous for centuries.

Despite the U.S. trade embargo, Cuban cigars still account for as much as 35 percent of those sold worldwide. US smokers consume up to 220 million top-end "non embargo" cigars a year in the US which Cuban market officials would love to take a crack at.

From comments by Habanos officials US could easily become the principal market for Cuban cigars in the world. For now due to this antiquated embargo I for one am glad that this isn't going to happen soon. Think about it due to the huge US buying power for anything "best" it would at least temporary spike up the prices & probably result in lower quality control in order not to miss out on potential sales. For now at least this is not on the horizion. On the other hand US cigar smokers seem to be in danger of being exposed to the "forbiden fruit" sindrome with all the fakes being peddled to cash in on the allure. Cigar connoisseurs can spot a fake Cuban even before lighting up - but novices are sometimes fooled. Unfortunatly the new smoker is the one in danger, becuase if you've never experienced a true joy of a fine Cohiba, you'll never have the necessary skills to compare what is a real McCoy and what is just a Fauxcohiba. Shame indeed!

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Daily thoughts, musings & interests about anything (mostly horology) that currently makes my soul & grey matter tick.