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No.480 October 1-14, 2020


Browsing through a favourite cigar website I came across an article which at first sight I thought should rather be in a medical journal, but it turned out to be quite pertinent where it was.
So I thought I would share it with you.

“O.C.D – obsessive compulsive disorders.”
“OCD is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, images and engage in behaviours or mental acts in response to these thoughts or obsessions.

There was a long list such behaviour but the one that struck me, and obviously the writer of the article was “repeating the same steps to any task over and over again each time”.
Think Nadal before serving, a golfer lining up a crucial putt, Hashim Amla taking guard to face the first ball in a test, Elton Jantjies with a game winning penalty in the dying moments of a match.
Such eccentricities, or routines, are endless in many walks of life – not necessarily a sign of anxiety.

But what has this to do with cigars and cigar smoking.
Maybe more than you think, because you don’t think about them, you just do them.
We are not talking about the basic procedures of selecting the cigar, cutting and lighting it, and smoking it, but some personal, quirky action or habit you do at the same time not necessarily a “disorder”.

Here are some examples of “quirky” habits he gleaned from a cross section of cigar smoking friends he questioned. The names are my own and have no relationships to any person I actually know – but do you recognise them?

  • Fred always uses a twin blade cutter but never chops through the cap. As he applies pressure he rotates the cigar so that the cap pops off in a perfect circle. He never cuts at an angle. But he always has a sharpened match on hand which he pushes into the cigar, with a little wiggle. Eases the flow of smoke he says.
  • Joe also prefers the flat cut but always cuts as close to the capline as possible to achieve the widest diameter for the cut – to open the full flow of flavours he says.
  • Peter made an interesting point about cutting, he cuts according to the colour of the wrapper – a straight flat cut for a light, cigar and angled cut for a dark, oily wrapper – filled with more flavour he feels.
  • While smoking his cigar Fred always rotates it in the direction of the wrapper lines. He claims this prevents any unravelling and increases the flavour flow.
  • Mike always leaves the band on his cigar and keeps it facing up for as long as possible – he just feels that this is the “right” way up.
  • Kevin always “purges” – blows through his cigars after the first few puffs. Then settles down to slow, single puffs. Cleans out any burnt taste is his reason.

Removing the ash.

  • John says that by rotating the end of his cigar against the wall of the ashtray he keeps the ash in a good cone shape.
  • Errol always pushes the ash into straight lines in the ashtray –makes me feel better”.
  • Joe taps off the ash and then gently stubs the end of the cigar to flatten it. He is not a fan of the cone shaped end.

There seemed to be a general consensus that the time to lay the cigar down is when you felt it is past its peak and could only now spoil any after taste.
But there was mention in a previous blog about a man who kept the butts of his cigars, let them dry out, and then smoked them vertically in a few short pipes he had with appropriate bowl diameters. “Waste not want not” he said - he certainly had his money’s worth from his cigars.

  • Eurojet Turbo lighter Triple-Jet - Built-in Cigar Punch Black with Chrome trimMike is very particular about which lighter uses to fire up his cigar. For ringsizes of 50 or more be uses a two jet Turbo to get the full foot lit as quickly as possible, so he can enjoy the first deep draws on the cigar.
    On a slimmer cigar he uses a soft butane, or a match flame which, he says, allows him to have
    more control allowing the first tastes to develop slowly – I’m a control freak he admits.Eurojet Soft Flame Piezo Lighter

Actually some of these seem to make sense – maybe worth borrowing.
So when you set out to smoke a cigar do you always go through the same selection process the same
cutting and lighting routine, sit in the same chair, with the same glass or book, or music, or company?
Do you have a few personal “quirky” idiosyncrasies that add to your enjoyment of the event?

And do you always use the same lighter?
Possibly you’d like to try Mike’s “different flames” idea?

Here’s your opportunity:

From October 8 - 21, 2020  -  25% off
55-EJ047 or 55-EJ046 Triple-Jet Turbo - Built-in Cigar Punch R423.50
55-EJ061 or 55-EJ062 – Soft Flame Piezo lighter R205.00
Only from Wesley’s Shops and Website.

Colin Wesley

No.480 October 1-14, 2020

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No.481 October 15-November 4, 2020

The alternative pipe

To borrow Zino Davidoff’s claim that “the greatest cigar to smoke is the one you are currently smoking” and applying it to Pipe smoking:  the best pipe to smoke is the one you are smoking.

In both cases this may not be quite correct.
There is the chance that something may develop which could spoil the experience. - Potholes I call them in several blogs.
- Pipesmoking Potholes: 319,321,332

Potholes, or no potholes, there is one major difference between smoking a Cigar and a Pipe.
Smoking a cigar is a one-off event. When it is finished it is finished. 
When the pipe full is finished it is only the tobacco that is finished.
There is still the pipe which could be looked after and cherished for more smokes in the future.

If we look at a short history of Pipe making we can see a new set of potholes for the pipe smokers.

  • Ceramic, Clay and Meerschaum may smoke well, but they are accident prone.
  • Metal or silver pipes were sturdy, but heavy and very quickly became too hot to handle.
  • Wood with the characteristics of being light and porous, but sturdy and comfortably warm in the hand, looked like a good prospect. But most soft wood tended to char on the inside of the bowl, spoiling the taste of the burning tobaccos.
  • Cherrywood was popular because the char actually released a sweet taste, but it wouldn’t carbonise which would offer some protection from burning out; also the soft texture of the wood did not make it possible for a machine to deliver an acceptable, sophisticated, polished finish. Cherrywood pipes always looked rather rough and ready.
  • Much the same could be said with Beech, Olive, Maple and even Oak woods.

The situation was at a stalemate until, by coincidence, a French pipe maker on a pilgrimage to Napoleon’s birthplace in Corsica, broke/lost his meerschaum pipe.
For a modest fee a peasant carved for him a replacement out of the root of Bruyere, a local heath tree.
This was so successful that for a further small fee the peasant parted with another block of the same wood.
It found its way to a wooden pipe stem factory in St.Claude, nestled in the forests of the Jura mountains.
This was the birth of the Briar pipe which dominates the pipe making industry today.

That is not to say that there is no room, or need, for pipes of lesser woods.
One must not let “perfect” prevent one from enjoying the “alternative”.

  • The humble Corncob is a good choice for a beginner’s first pipe, or as the pipe to be taken away for a weekend in the bush.
  • A Cherrywood or a Clay can add a little variety for the taste buds, without changing from a favourite tobacco blend.

A bonus to note with these alternative pipes is that because they often come at a modest cost, it is worth buying the best of its kind to enjoy the fruits.

Now we have a new alternative wood for you to try/test – a pipe from the wood of the Jujube tree (Ziziphus jujuba Mill).
A pipe from the wood of the Jujube treeThe pipe is made in Southern China where the Jujube tree is part of the local habitat.
It is stamped “Mr Pipe” and offers a 9mm filter option.
We supply the pipe fitted with a 9mm adapter and 3 x 9mm filters.
It also comes boxed, and includes a soft drawstring bag and a portable folding pipe rest.
The dark colour makes it difficult to see much of the grain but from the weight and the smooth finish we can assume that the wood is indeed very hard.
This is not a pretentious pipe, however at R350.00 it could be good to have around for an emergency or as an appropriate pipe for a grubby hands smoke.

Better still:

From October 22 – November 11, 2020
25% off Jujube Mr Pipe

The Jujube Mr Pipe has its place in a collection:

  • Trips away
  • The workshop or gardening
  • Sailing, hunting, hiking.

Colin Wesley

No.481 October 15-November 4, 2020

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No.482 November 5 -19, 2020

Selections – Trial without Error

One of the joys of a pleasurable hobby is finding out more…..
And the hobby of cigars is no different: is the “very best” that much better than the “best”?
What other cigars might I enjoy?

When I started these “Selections” many years ago, my thinking was to make it easy for cigar smokers to try a bigger variety of brands and sizes at affordable prices and in manageable quantities.
Because when you want to experiment, it is helpful to have some idea of what you’re doing!

Our selections mix up different brands in the same sizes, or different sizes in the same brand; they traverse the whole gamut of premium cigars: Cuban, Nicaraguan, Dominican, long and short filler. They introduce new brands, new sizes, some Limited Editions when available. On occasion we create a “Blind Tasting Selection” by covering the bands. (Of course you can simply uncover the bands – and enjoy the cigars without the mystery.)
Enclosed in each Selection is an informative leaflet which may include ratings from Cigar Aficionado and other tasting panels, and you can download a Tasting Score Sheet to help you with your assessment.
Two or three friends together, each with the same selection, discussing the cigars and comparing notes, can have a lot of fun and increase their appreciation and enjoyment of their cigar hobby.

Our selections are a great starting point from which to build and improve your humidor stock, and a great opportunity to break from your normal choice. You can try new cigars without being afraid of expensive errors.
All in all our cigar selections are always well worth looking at – very seldom does a browser leave without finding a selection to try, confident he’ll enjoy the experiment.

Currently we have 5 Selections to offer, and more will  be arriving soon.
Click here to read more.

Arrived already are 2 new blends from Taylors Of Old Bond Street - makers of superb shaving creams. You have to try them to experience sheer luxury.
You’ll be surprised how little you need to generate a great, smooth, creamy lather. It washes off easily, and really does leave your skin feeling fresh and clean.
If you haven’t tried these before, take advantage now.

From November 12-25, 2020  -  15% off
Taylors Shaving Creams, 150g tub

94-JBTay1012 Cedarwood R450.00
94-JBTay1001 Sandalwood R450.00
94-JBTay1019 Organic R515.00

Only from Wesley’s Shops and Online

Enjoy “finding out more” about your cigar likes and dislikes.
And incidentally, I’m sure you’ll enjoy using Taylors Shaving Creams as much as I do.

Colin Wesley

No.482 November 5 -19, 2020

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.Top

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No.483 October 15-November 4, 2020

Lorenzo pipes logo– Pipe Couturier par Excellence

We first met Lorenzo Tagliabue at a Trade show in Frankfurt, and in 1970 visited the factory in Gallarate. A tall, elegant man with a big smile and an infectious laugh.
He was described as a “Pipe Couturier par Excellence”.
His pipes were recognised from afar by pipe smokers on all five continents, but they were unknown to us, and to South Africa.
In some countries Lorenzo pipes were distributed by the powerful English company “Oppenheimer Pipes”. This company at that time owned the English brands GBD, Dr Plumb and BBB (which we distributed in South Africa), and they later absorbed Loewe, Comoy of London, and Orlik pipes of Bond Street.
They distributed these pipes worldwide, including South Africa.
For our small market they were quite happy for us to buy directly from Lorenzo.
Little did we all know what a fruitful journey this would be.

Within two years we were offering 12 ranges of Lorenzo pipes through our shops in Durban, and through “Mail Order”, via our Wesleys print catalogue and newsletter. The Catalogue had been launched in 1968 in black and white, and by 1974 it was in full colour – a major achievement in those days. Our 1970 Newsletter “The Pipesmoker” was distributed to over 6500 addresses.

Lorenzo pipes were now very important to us and we regularly visited their stand at the Frankfurt Ambiente Messe each February.
When Lorenzo Tagliabue died in 1987, his factory manager Riccardo Aliverti and his wife bought the Lorenzo trademarks. Riccardo had been brought up in the business – his father was the previous technical manager. He continued the Lorenzo tradition of making fine pipes at reasonable prices.
Somewhere along the line the Alivertis were contracted to run a pipe factory in Albania which they eventually bought. This gave them a firm footing in Albania to access local, less expensive, raw briar and enjoy lower labour production costs. The pipes were still well-cured – very light for their size.
They revived the old Lorenzo name “Spitfire” for these pipes.
The pipes became, as frequently stated, “the best value-for-money basic, good smoking pipes”.
They also introduced new finishes such as the very popular “Spot Carved” and several varieties of rusticated styles.
In parallel they produced higher quality pipes in Italy.
In time we started to visit the Alivertis in Gallarate, Italy, as part of our February visit to the Frankfurt Messe.
These visits gave us the opportunity to pick up “odd” lots of pipes, in quantities suited for our market.
And because they were often leftovers or overruns from large orders (American), the prices were better than we could have negotiated on our own. A real win/win situation for both of us!
As the work force in Albania became more proficient, production increasingly moved to Albania which led to the eventual closing down of Gallarate production, although the company was still run from the office and storage facility in Gallarate.
Then very good pipes became available from the Albanian factory – and we could pick up some gems on our annual forays into the Gallarate stockroom.
When the Teflon Tenon arrived on the filter pipe scene offering both 6mm and 9mm filters options, Lorenzo very quickly introduced the Spitfire “Filtro”  ranges, choosing the 9 mm option.
Somewhere around this time they followed another trend.
They moved from vulcanite to ebonite for their mouthpieces. The benefit of ebonite was that it was less prone to oxidising – which discoloured the mouthpieces, causing a bitter taste. And the teflon tenons were virtually unbreakable, a major benefit for the pipe smoker and the pipe trade.
These innovations and changes were trouble free for several years but the demand for ebonite was pushing the price up, which was a real problem for the Lorenzo production of their “basic” value-for-money pipes.
They looked for another source of supply of ebonite to reduce costs.
For us Giada Filtro pipes were the first to use these new mouthpieces. The differences were not visible, but a short while after Giada pipes were on the market, we had a few complaints of the mouthpieces cracking down the path of the Tenon fitting into the mouthpiece.
Reports of this problem from Germany, the UK, and I am sure the USA, spread through Social Media and the formal pipe trade.
It was a real blow to the Filtro pipe range.
Around 2019 the Albanian Government decided that they needed the property on which the factory stood. The Alivertis had to close the business down.
Riccardo Aliverti decided to retire.
A very sad end to the long, close business and personal relationship we enjoyed with Lorenzo pipes and the Aliverti family.

Already this year we missed our visit to the Lorenzo stockrooms being plied with Italian coffee and biscuits; spending time searching through the numerous large boxes of the better quality leftover pipes looking for some bargains.
However, we always bought substantial quantities of the Filtro ranges, and we are in the process of having new mouthpieces made for the Filtro pipes. Some good value pipes to look forward to.

And we didn’t necessarily release all of the higher quality bargains as we found them.

Today we are releasing over 40 of the gems we purchased over the last few years.

  • VIP Summa Cum Laude – the original amazing Lorenzo shape, in 2 finishes. Only 12 of each.
  • VIP Valsesia in the unique brown Sandpebble finish. Only 12 pipes in 3 shapes.
  • VIP Natural – 8 individual almost flawless pipes shaped according to the grain. 5 with Superior Grain (you have to see them) and 3 Select Grain less striking, but as beautiful.

 Plus 9 Spitfire branded pipes in the long shank Canadian shape – non-filter.

These pipes are limited quantities of Lorenzo pipes personally selected before the advent of the Giada mouthpieces.
As usual the pipes will be offered with our unconditional full guarantee.
If something goes wrong we fix it or make a refund – your choice.

If you are a fan of Lorenzo pipes here is a great opportunity to add to your collection.
If you have not had a Lorenzo pipe before here is a chance to experience one at an extraordinary price, and find out what you have been missing – there will be no more.

The extraordinary prices:

From November 26 – December 9, 2020
25% off personally selected Lorenzo pipes
Lorenzo VIP Summa Cum Laude Cabernet R1295.00
Lorenzo VIP Summa Cum Laude Spot Carved R1050.00
Lorenzo VIP Valsesia Sandpebble R1050.00
Lorenzo VIP Natural Superior Grain R1950.00
Lorenzo VIP Natural Select Grain R1500.00
Lorenzo Spitfire Canadian Large R850.00
Lorenzo Spitfire Canadian Medium R750.00

Only from Wesley’s shops and website

Don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy the last of the Lorenzo pipes.

Colin Wesley

No.483 November 19 – December 2, 2020

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.Top

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No.484 December 3, 2020 - January 16, 2021

The Habanos Festivals

The Island of Cuba may look small and insignificant on a map of the world. But it has been blessed by nature with rich soil and a warm, humid atmosphere –ideal for growing tobacco plants.

They have been doing this for more than 400 years.

Two outside events occurred during the 1700s which had an important effect on the Cuban cigar industry:
In 1740, when Cuba was a Spanish colony, Spain introduced to Cuba the 3-part cigar arrangement of Filler, Binder and Wrapper.
In 1763, when Havana was controlled by England for 1 year, the Cuban cigars were popularised in England, and from there to the Empire.  In 1764 Cuba was returned to Spain but the demand for Cuban cigars, with their unique taste and aroma, and the 3-part format, continued to grow.

The next two twists in the tale of the Cuban cigar were the 1961 embargo on Cuban products to the USA. This throttled the Cuban cigar industry, and incidentally boosted the cigar industries of the neighbouring countries – Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, Ecuador, etc.
Then came the extraordinary cigar boom of the 1990s, where the demand for Cuban cigars outstripped their normal production capability. Tobacco plants took over sugarcane fields, any person with nimble fingers became a torcedor (roller), aging the tobacco became less important = with a consequent drop in quality.

What, the Cubans may have thought, if smokers think this is all there is to a Cuban cigar?

In 1997 plans emerged to create a Habanos Cigar Festival – to showcase to the outside world what a true Cuban cigar should look like, feel like, smell like and taste like.
The best in the world.
And they have featured the Cohiba (their flagship cigar) in every Festival. 

In February 1999 the first Habano Festival opened to great applause, and the Festivals have continued to do so every year since then.
That is until the Covid 19 pandemic has caused the cancellation of the 2021 Habanos Festival.

We have tracked the Festivals from I in 1999 to XXII in 2020.
Following are some snippets which we found of interest on the way.
Some of the cigars released at the Festivals are now available in South Africa.

The 2021 Festival may be cancelled, but the enjoyment of Cuban cigars continues.
And what every smoker of a hand-rolled cigar needs is a sharp cutter to open the head of the cigar.
Cutters that may be lost, broken, blunted or left behind!

So a cigar cutter will always make an ideal Christmas present – a simple cutter as a stocking filler, or a top quality precision instrument when appropriate.

To encourage this thought, we offer our full range of cigar cutters for your choice.

From December 10 - 31, 2020
All Cigar Cutters less 25%
Prices from R69.00
Excluding Sale items.

Only from Wesley’s Shops and Online

The Habano Festivals are unique functions for cigar smokers – if you have attended one, let us have your opinion.

Colin Wesley

No.484 December 3, 2020 - January 16, 2021

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.

Habanos Cigar Festival
1999 The first Festival set the format of future Festivals.

Monday – the welcome night – with a special cigar.
During the week, every day

Guided tours of tobacco plantations in the Vuelta Abajo zone, including a traditional lunch;
Specialised tours of the most famous cigar factories – maybe even El Laguito, the Cohiba factory;
Cigar tasting seminars, and matching cigars with drinks;
Witness the final of the World Habanosommelier contest;
International Fair the whole week at Havana’s Convention Palace, everything to do with cigar smoking;
From Wednesday you can learn how to roll cigars, at the Palace;
Attend lectures on Habano related topics.

Wednesday night – a dinner with the cigar of the event. 1999 saw the debut of the San Cristobal brand.
Friday night – the Gala dinner with good food, excellent wine and great cigars, accompanied by amazing entertainment. The annual Habanos Prizes are awarded in three categories: for producers, business people and communicators, and the evening finishes with an auction to raise funds for the Cuban Public Health Service.
Up for auction are humidors made by leading Cuban artists and craftsmen, filled with Habanos produced specially for the event including rare sizes. Up to 2007 these were signed by Fidel Castro.
The humidors are works of art and the cigars are amazing The quantity - 100-200 cigars at the beginning, then over 300 for the smallest lot, to 520 Cohiba cigars in 2012. In 2008, to commemorate the 10th anniversary 700 cigars were offered. Habanos S.A. uses the auction to offer its very latest cigars for the first time. The first Behikes to be sold were found in the 2010 Cohiba humidor and the first Montecristo No. 2 Gran Reservas were sold in the 2011 Montecristo humidor. It is always worth making a note of some of the rare sizes that crop up because the industry likes to use the auction to experiment with new vitolas that one day might be added to the standard range.
The proceeds of the auction go to the Cuban Public Health Service.
The guests are given a special box of the featured cigar(s).

2000 Followed the same format:
In 2000, Habanos S.A. released a limited cigar to commemorate the second Habanos festival. The official name was the Festival Del Habanos Marevas, and it was a Petit Corona measuring Ring 42 x 129
The auction featured 7 stunning humidors –see them on

They featured the Anniversaries of the brands: Romeo y Julieta (125 years), Punch (160 years), Montecristo (65 years), Partagas (155 years) La Gloria Cubana (115 years), plus the new San Cristobal;
Lot No.7 Included a 2.1m Bronze sculpture; the humidor contained 150 cigars over 6 brands of recently released cigars.

2001 The 35th Anniversary of the Cohiba brand
500 numbered humidors were offered, each with 135 Cohiba cigars; each cigar with its special 35 Anniversario band.
Cuaba Distinguido in its distinctive taino wooden case
Cuaba Distinguido in its distinctive taino wooden case - was gifted to attendees of the opening party of the Festival del Habanos 2001

The auction: http://www.habanos.com/en/noticias/subasta-de-humudores-iii-festival-del-habano-2001/
At the Gala dinner the guests were given branded Cohiba Gran Corona, Robusto and Siglo II cigars.

2002 Fidel Castro attended the Gala dinner
The 2002 Habanos Festival ended its fourth edition with the now traditional gala dinner, attended by Fidel Castro,  and an auction of humidors, cigars, works of art and even the hat of a well-known Cuban singer.
The humidors auctioned: http://www.habanos.com/en/noticias/subasta-de-humidores-2002/

2003 Theoretical Seminar in the framework of the 5th Habanos Festival was inaugurated
The Seminar, the manufacture of an Habano so as to allow each person attended the activity to know about this work.
The organization of the Festivals:
“There is an intense period, four months, where everyone works in the organization of the event, but the organizers of the festival start planning the next one right after the current one finishes, in order to plan several activities. It is indispensable to highlight the work carried about by the Marketing Department of Habanos S.A., directed by Ana López, which plays an important role in the Festival’s organization.”
Offer – “A seven-day tour which costs £1,495 per person, including B&B at the four-star Nacional hotel, Havana, return flights from Heathrow, a visa, transfers, transport, a guide, four dinners, two lunches and some special cigars”. That was in 2003!
Mar 1, 2003 - 12:00am  Cuban cigars — male and female models showed off fashions made from rough fabrics ranging in tones from beige to dark brown and light green to deep olive.
You have to have stamina to attend all that is offered.

2004  Habanos are finally aging tobacco, and special warehouses have now been set up with bales of tobacco being clearly marked as to when they have been laid down and when they are to be used.
5 years age is the minimum target and this will ensure that cigars will indeed in future be matured and ready for smoking straight out of the box.
The Wednesday dinner was held outside. Each guest was greeted with a specially banded Robaina 85th anniversary cigar as well as a specially banded Winston Churchill cigar.
Around 800 people enjoyed cigars, cocktails, snacks and some great music on this very humid evening.
At the Gala dinner each guest was given a 3 pack of Trinidad Robusto Extra, the new 3 pack of beautifully tubed Cohiba Siglo VI as well as Trinidad Coloniales and San Cristobal "109" which is a prominente (double corona) with a slight taper on the head.
Castro’s son also attended.
Entertainment included a big band, various singers and a water ballet.

2005 Cuban Government had passed law to ban smoking in public places but allowances were made for the Festival.
Around 1000 people attended the opening cocktail party.
The Partagas P2 was the new presentation – and the guests at the Gala dinner were each given a lovely varnished box of 3 of the new Partagas cigars.

2006 Corporación Habanos presented the most expensive and exclusive Habano cigar in history, the Cohiba Behike (BHK)
The cigar was Ring 52 x 193mm, with two factory rings that contributed to build the prestige of this brand.
Ever since they conceived this project it had remained completely secret. Plants from the seed bed, the best growing fields of Vuelta Abajo, and even the best growers, were selected. The outside wrapper leaf was made by Pancho Cuba, Alejandro Robaina and Antonio María Paz, three of the most prestigious growers in the world.
The careful selection and special care, the unique manufacturing process (all cigars were hand-rolled by Norma, the most senior of the El Laguito cigar rollers) and the high quality production standards, gave this Habano cigar unique characteristics.
The 4,000 Cohiba Behike cigars were sold in 40-unit containers – double-ringed and numbered from 1 to 4,000 – presented in 100 humidors made by the prestigious Paris-based company Elie Bleu.
This was a unique humidor, for its design and its materials: Galuchat, or manta ray skin, one of the most luxurious materials in the history of decoration; black ebony, mother of pearl, sycamore, cedar and ox bone.
The price of each of these 40-cigar containers was 15,000 Euro.
Fortunately the launch of the new Romeo Short Churchills, was at the welcoming party – or it wouldn’t have been noticed.

2007 Cohiba Maduro 5 range was introduced at the Welcome party.
To that date over a billion Montecristo cigars had been sold since its inception in 1935, and the 2007 Reserva de Montecristo paid tribute to the best-selling vitola of the brand – the Montecristo No.4. The wrapper, filler and binder leaves of Reserva de Montecristo had been aged for three years. The cigars were packaged in luxury black-lacquered cases, of 20 double-ringed cigars.
The auctioned humidors were as exotic as ever http://www.habanos.com/en/noticias/subasta-de-humidores-2007/

2008 Habanos S.A. presents H. Upmann Magnum 50
The H.Upmann Mágnum 50 achieved a great success in 2005 as a Limited Edition. This Habano will become the benchmark size of the brand, thanks to its elegant proportions (Ring 50 x 161mm) and its extraordinary blend, giving it a unique aroma and flavor. Available now in Cedar-lined tubes.
The Gala dinner offered Trinidad, San Cristobal and Cohiba cigars with some fine Cuba rums.
The auction raised 960 000 Euros for the Cuban Health Service

2009 The tenth anniversary of the Habanos Festival.
The Welcome evening saw the launch of the Montecristo Open – blended for outdoor smoking
The Open offers 4 diffferent vitolas including the “Master” (Ring 50 x 124mm) the first robusto from Montecristo.
The International Habanosommelier Competition, was held for the eighth year running because of the following it had gained, due to the growing number of cigar smokers that are increasingly turning to a sommelier for advice when choosing a Habano cigar.
The Habanos Estuche X Festival 2009   https://www.cigaranalysis.com/habanos-estuche-x-festival-2009/
was released - a selection of the vitolas released by Habanos within the last ten years.
These cigars were packaged in black-lacquered, cabinet-shaped cases, with a selection of 10 different cigars, each having a special second (or in some cases a third) commemorative band.

2010 The Behike is launched in 3 formats BHK 52, BHK 54, BHK 56
The blend incorporated for the first time the tobacco leaf called ‘Medio Tiempo’ for exceptional character and flavour. The 3 new vitolas are produced each year in extremely limited quantities due to the natural scarcity of this kind of leaf, not produced by all sun-grown tobacco plants.
The auction of 6 humidors collected 808 000 euros.

2011 A new segment featured - a blind tasting of three Cuban cigars, which the audience smoked along with experts on stage, all trying to guess the identity of the cigars.
Habanos S.A. added two new Partagás cigars with similar bands, the Serie E No. 2 and the Serie D No. 5.
Serie E No.2 a straight-sided cigar measuring Ring 54 x 140mm. The tasty Serie D No. 5 is a shortened robusto measuring Ring 50 x 121mm which was originally created as an Edición Limitada in 2008. It rated 92 points in Cigar Insider.
The auction – just look at the Cohiba humidor: http://habanosnews.habanos.com/en/auction-humidors-2011

2012 The 520th anniversary of the arrival of Cuban tobacco in the old world.
On the third night this was commemorated at the dinner. The dinner had numerous performances celebrating the cultural influence that both Spain and the African continent have had on Cuba.
New: An International Contest “Habanos in Images” addressed to producers of audiovisual work related to the Habanos.
The welcoming party was dedicated to the Cohiba brand
Finally 1,000 guests from all over the world experienced the introduction of an exclusive cigar - the Romeo y Julieta Churchill Reserva made from specially matured tobacco from the 2008 harvest.

2013 Introduction of two new Montecristo vitolas
The Montecristo Double Edmundo and the Petit No.2 made their first appearance.
As a novelty, a Cooking Show named ¨Tobacco and Gastronomy¨ was held live. Prestigious international Chefs prepared Haute Cuisine exclusive recipes using Cuban tobacco.
Release of Partagas Gran reserve Cosecha 2007 **– a Lusitania.

** The word “cosecha” refers to a specific harvest in the agricultural world, and is well known for being used by the Cuban cigar industry in its Reserva and Gran Reserva releases. All the leaf used is from the same year.

2014 The 16th Festival del Habano.
On the first evening, the traditional Welcome Night the Partagas Serie D No. 6 was presented.
It has a small format: the traditional 50 ring gauge with a "short" length of only 9 centimeters gives a smoking duration of around 20-30 minutes. The generic category is “Nub”.
The No. 6 complements the "Series" line, the letter "D" in the name indicates cigars with a 50 ring gauge. The intense taste and the spicy aroma are particularly concentrated here.
The Wednesday Dinner was a tribute to the Trinidad brand. Chef Ron Blaauw from The Netherlands (two Michelin stars) and sommelier Cuno Van’t Hoff, guided the guests in the selection of the menu and matching wines.

2015  More than 1650 attendees
Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill Gran Reserva, Cosecha 2009, was the welcoming cigar on Monday. Guests were given a black lacquered Romeo y Julieta gift box with 2 Wide Churchills, a Piramides Anejado and a Mille Fleur.
During the week the “Perfect Puff“ competition attracted 200 competitors and many spectators, private and the media, This competition was to achieve the longest ash on the cigar - San Cristóbal de La Habana 180mm. The cigar had an estimated “puff” time of 45 minutes.
Kuwaiti Alí Alami was the winner – lying flat on his back.
As is often the case, the Gala dinner was attended by celebrities - Paris Hilton, Naomi Campbell, Fidel Castro Díaz-Balart (Fidel’s son), and David Tang.
But the stars of the evening were the cigars:
Montecristo 80 Anniversario (at Ring 55 x 165mm the biggest vitola from Montecristo) and the
small Media Corona (Ring 44 x 90mm), which had plenty of flavor and smoked well above it weight.

2016  50 years since the Cohiba brand was born
The Hoyo de Monterrey Reserva Cosecha 2012 was offered - binder, filler and wrapper from the year 2012.

But the  main focus for the week was on Cohiba.
The commemorative Cohiba humidor

One of the humidors auctioned at the Gala dinner was the commemorative Cohiba humidor. This cabinet was laminated with Vuelta Abajo tobacco leaves framed in 24-karat gold paper, and contained 50 of the 50th Aniversarios cigars.
Appropriately this attracted the highest bid, 320,000 Euros.

During the dinner the cigars offered included the Cohiba Medio Siglo, Cohiba Robusto, Cohiba Maduro 5, Cohiba Behike 54,
The closing gift was a presentation box of two Cohiba Majestuosos (Ring 58 x 146mm) - the anniversary cigars.


2017 Montecristo Linea 1935 launched
The cigars are blended stronger than the usual Montecristo.
Three vitolas: Leyenda (Ring 55 x 165mm), Maltes (Ring 53 x 152mm), Dumas (Ring 49 x 130mm).
The Quai D’Orsay brand launched a new design, a new blend and two new vitolas, No.50 (Ring 50 x 110mm) and No.54 (Ring 54 x 135mm)
And then first from H.Upmann: Gran Reserva Cosecha 2011.

2018 Twentieth Anniversary of the Festival.
The cigar chosen for the welcoming evening was the new Cohiba Robustos Reserva Cosecha 2014, the cigar has had 3 years of aging.
Since this was the 20th edition of the Festival, Wednesday night was a tribute to its success.
Several new cigars were around:
Romeo y Julieta Grand Churchill (Ring 56 x 190mm), Le Hoyo Rio Seco (Ring 56 x 140mm) and the now-popular Vegueros Centrofinos (Ring 50 x 127mm).
At the Gala evening the Partagas Linea Maduro series was the main cigar. The term Maduro describes a very dark shade of wrapper leaf. The leaves are harvested from the top of shade grown tobacco plants, and after air curing, natural fermentation and ageing, assume a rich, dark, oily appearance which adds a ‘top-taste’ to the blend which many smokers describe as adding a slight  ‘sweetness’.
The cigars reached Greece in 2019 so maybe we’ll see them next year.

2019 Havana celebrates its 500th Anniversary
The San Cristobal de La Habana 1519 (Ring 57 x 170mm) was presented in Humidors designed especially to honour the city.  A Master Lecture was given by Historian Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler.
2019 also saw the 50th Anniversary of the Trinidad brand, and new vitolas were showcased. Only 100  humidors were made, and No.1 raised 300 000 euros at the auction. We can appreciate the Media Luna (Ring 50x115mm) and the Topes (Ring 56x125mm).
Inocente Núñez (co-President of Habanos, S.A.) talked about choosing the Habano cigar: (Use all 5 senses) and most important “How much time I have available and the time of day I’m going to be enjoying it.”
He finished with how to light and enjoy the Habano cigar.

5-foot tall Cohiba cabinet with 550 Cohiba cigars 2020  2200 attendees
The year that a Bolivar Belicosos Finos Reserva Cosecha 2016 was presented to the host at the welcoming party by a woman floating below a balloon. It was the first time that Bolivar Belicosos had a Gran Reserva.
The parting gift was a box of 2 Bolivar Belicosos Finos Reserva Cosecha 2016.

On its 145th anniversary, Romeo y Julieta was honoured at the Gala Dinner.

And at the Gala Dinner – a new record was achieved:
The usual auction of seven custom humidors, each dedicated to one of Cuba's top cigar brands,  raised 1.265 million euros.
This was thanks to the bid for the 5-foot tall Cohiba cabinet with 550 Cohiba cigars – 2.4 million euros.
See all the humidors with descriptions:

2021 Official Notice:
Habanos, S.A. has decided to cancel the 23rd Habano FestivalHabanos Cigar Festival

Due to the global context we are living, Habanos, S.A. has decided to cancel the 23rd  Habano Festival scheduled for February 2021. The company, as a worldwide market leader, is working to surprise the Habano aficionados in 2021,  year in which our most prestigious brand, Cohiba, celebrates its [...]GBP