20th Habanos Festival: Day 5- Friday 2nd March 2018
All good things must come to an end and sadly this festival is no exception. Day Five of the 20th Habanos Festival began like every other day, with the beautiful sun rising above the buildings and casting its light across the remarkable city of Havana. Another early start, we made our way to the Palacio de Convenciones to attend the final day and we were full of enthusiasm and excitement.
The morning was spent attending both the closure of the International Habanosommelier Contest and the Habanos World Challenge Contest. Early morning closed the former, with the UK Contestant Darius Namdar going home with the title. One of the most prestigious and coveted titles in the Cigar World, Darius Namdar really had to work hard for his award. Over the course of the festival, Namdar competed in various stages of the contest and was finally presented with the award after impressing the judges with his pairing of the El Rey Del Mundo Choix Supreme Cigar with the Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire. Namdar truly deserves the title and we were so impressed with his Habanos knowledge and cigar etiquette.
The Habanos World Challenge Contest was also finalised on the fifth day of the festival. A very exciting moment in the Cigar Industry, with this contest being the first of its kind. The two countries competing in the final were Cuba and Cyprus and the winning team had to be able to blend their phenomenal knowledge of Cuban Cigars, present their training and also show their boundless passion for Habanos S.A. and its culture. The final winner was Cyprus with the contestants Alexis Tsielepis and Raffi Der Gara Betian going home, overjoyed, with their award. It was an amazing contest to observe and one we feel some of our own team at EGM Cigars would love to participate in.
At around 1pm, we watched the teams receive their very much deserved awards and then enjoyed another delicious lunch served at the El Bucan restaurant in the Convention Centre. Here, we networked with many inspiring and interesting cigar enthusiasts where we spoke fondly of the festival, the activities and, of course, the Cuban Cigars for sale that we are currently enjoying.
And finally, the most desired and coveted event of all, the Gala Evening dedicated to Partagas and its new Line Maduro. A glamorous and luxurious event, with multiple stages and screens to entertain every corner of the room, we were welcomed with a typical Habanos S.A. goody bag and taken to our seats. Eager to sample the latest additions to the Partagas line, the Maduro No. 1, Maduro No. 2 and Maduro No.3 we took the cigars given to us by the waiters and waitresses zealously. These proved to be more intense in flavour compared to other Partagas Cigars, which is evidently due to its additional fermentation process.
During the evening, the world famous auction of the most unbelievable Humidors took place and €1,485,000 was raised for the Cuban Public Health System. We couldn’t believe just how impressive some of these humidors were and particularly liked the Romeo y Julieta Cigars and the El Rey Del Mundo Cigars humidor. Both were expertly created, using unique and impressive designs. There were seven humidors in total from Cohiba Cuban Cigars, H.Upmann, Hoyo de Monterrey, Montecristo Cuban Cigars and Partagas.
Over the course of the night, we were entertained by amazing performances by the likes of Elain Morales, Carlos Varela and Edesio Alejandro, Laritza Bacallao and Waldo Mendoza. As well as this, we were also being endlessly attended to by the waiters and waitresses who provided us with cigars and drinks a plenty. It really was a wonderful evening and Habanos S.A. certainly put on a show. A show which displays their passion for Cuban Cigars, their customers, their clients and the country itself.
The final and most popular act of the evening was the Cuban Hip Hop Group, The Orishas. The band played with unsurpassable rhythm and all of the guests, including us, revelled and grooved until the early hours of Saturday morning.
A fantastic finish to an extraordinary event, the 20th Habanos Festival went above and beyond our expectations and we already can’t wait for next year’s event.
Up to date on our EGM Blog posts? See our archive for other interesting articles.