20th Habanos Festival: Day 1- Monday 26th February 2018
EGM Cigars were lucky enough to be invited to the Festival de Habano in Havana, Cuba this year and will be giving you, our readers, the most exclusive insight into the daily goings on there. Using EGM Cuban Cigars Blog, we will be reporting straight from the festival, just one day behind, and providing details on the festival’s itinerary and the activities we enjoyed there.
Arriving in Cuba a couple of days before the festival allowed us to acclimatise to the stifling heat and get accustomed to the beautiful sunshine again. It is currently 27 degrees celcius in Havana and when we boarded the flight back in Lugano, Switzerland it was around 5 degrees, quite a shock to the system but one we're definitely not complaining about.
The morning of Day 1 was an early start to ensure that we arrived in time to receive our accreditation. Because of this, we woke early enough to watch the sunrise over the city, which felt prophetic of the week to come (those that follow our Instagram, would have seen just how beautiful it was). Upon arrival at the Hotel Nacional, we picked up our passes and invitations for all of the events and met Sarah Saunders, the founder of the Woman’s International Cigar Club, in the lobby. Here we enjoyed talking all things Cigars and enjoyed a quick smoke of the Vintage Cohiba Lanceros Cigar paired with a customary espresso.
After this, at around 2pm, we made our way to the Palacio de Convenciones to visit the trade show, highly anticipating the new releases by Habanos SA and we were not disappointed. Partagas Maduro No.2 and Partagas Maduro No.3 Cigars were presented from their regular production and the Bolivar Sobrano Limited Edition 2018 was presented too. The Cigar that really stood out for me though, was the Cohiba Robusto Reserva Coseacha 2014, it truly blew me away. It looks absolute amazing, faultless even. What did not go unnoticed though is that unlike other years, there was only one Limited Edition Cigar released this year, in contrast to the usual three, which we assume means that Habanos SA has unfortunately struggled to keep their production levels up. Nevertheless, the Cigars that were released and presented were very impressive and the team at EGM Cigars are very excited about them.
At the Palacio, we were fortunate enough to meet Fransesco Minetti who is nominated as Hombre del Habano this year. Minetti has a stand at the festival promoting his Encuentro de Amigos de Partagas en Italia. This event takes place from the 4th to the 7th of July in Matelica, Itay and includes events such as a pool party, beer tastings and cigar training.
After congratulating the legend and wishing him luck for the award, we went to visit the Humidores Habana stand, which is a small Cuban factory that produces the most unique and stunning artefacts. Many of the famous humidors being auctioned at the festival are produced by Humidores Habana, and rightly so, they really are a work of art. Whilst we were here, we made sure to schedule a factory visit for the following day… Day 2 Tuesday 27th February 2018 as we were sure they would be very popular amongst the attendees and did not want them to be fully booked. Luckily enough, we booked ourselves in and will report on that tomorrow.
As it is the first day of the festival, it is less jam packed with events and activities, but the welcome evening devoted to the Cohiba Reserva 2014 begins at 19:00 hours and it is sure to be an eventful evening. We arrive on time at the Salon Protocol of the El Laguito Factory and it is full of cigar aficionados and legends. Every room is packed to the brim and everyone is engaged in conversations about their favourite things, cigars. Once we are inside we are handed our goody bags, which contains a two count lacquered box of the new Cohiba Reserva, as well as the Cohiba Piramides Extra and a Cohiba Medio Siglo Cigar. Not surprising considering this is the night dedicated to Cohiba Cigars.
The night began with opening speeches from various Habanos directors, which we found both inspiring and motivating. The speeches were then followed by three very talented bands. The last of which was Los Van Van, Cuban Music Legends (our taxi driver who took us to the venue knew that Los Van Van were playing and even asked us to sneak him in).
The food that was served at the event was the only shortcoming at the event. We all found it quite unpalatable and even almost inedible, which was quite disappointing. Nevertheless, where the food was failing, the pairing of cigars and the unlimited supply of oak aged rum were succeeding. It was a wonderful night and everyone was enjoying themselves and their cigars.
After the event, most of us went back to the Hotel Nacional where we had one final and parting Partagas Serie No. 1 Limited Edition 2017 as a nightcap.
As you have read, Day One of Festival del Habano was a success and we assume the subsequent days will prove to be nothing less than admirable. As always, Habanos went out of their way to curate a night worthy of its reputation.