18th Festival del Habano Releases and More

Get Ready for the 18th Festival del HabanoThe other week we reported that this year’s Festival del Habano XVIII would commence in Havana on February 29th and run through March 4th. Now that the festival is concluded, it is time to take a look back over the highlights.

More than 2,000 participants flocked to the capital of Cuba to enjoy this year’s event, traveling from more than 60 different countries. This year’s event coincides with the 50th anniversary of Cohiba, so Cohiba was the center of attention. The festival was very much in their honor.

Cohiba

We saw three special releases from Cohiba at the festival:

  • The Cohiba Medio Siglo (52 x 102 mm). This is a new addition to the regular product line.
  • The Cohiba Majestuoso 1966 (58 x 150 mm). This is a special edition.
  • Cohiba 50 Aniversario (60 x 178 mm). This of course is also a special edition, designed to mark the occasion. The Cohiba 50 Aniversario cigars go with the luxury humidor (more on that below).

Cohiba 50 Aniversario Humidor

Additionally, Cohiba created a sumptuous humidor to celebrate their anniversary; only 50 units were manufactured, each one built for a specific person and customized with the owner’s name. Each is lined with 24-carat gold-plated Cuban ligero tobacco leaves. A great deal of craftsmanship and attention to detail went into the construction of these humidors. The gold-plated leaves were hand-picked, and the humidors are made out of luxury woods like pink cedar and sycamore. Jean-Philippe Martin is responsible for the design, and the firm Elie Bleu carried out the manufacturing.

Dominique Gyselinck

The awards 'Habanos Man of the Year - Hombre Del Habano' were also announced... and we are happy to report that Dominique Gyselinck, our friend and founder of LCDH Knokke / Gent / Hasselt & La Casa del Tabaco Bruges won the award in the Business category. Congrats!

Other exciting new releases unveiled at the 18th Festival del Habano include:

  • The Hoyo de Monterrey Reserva Cosecha 2012
  • The H. Upmann Magnum 54
  • Cuaba 20 Anniversario

And the yearly limited editions:

  • Romeo y Julieta Capuletos
  • Montecristo Dantés
  • Trinidad Topes

Other key highlights and events during the festival included visits to the Vuelta Abajo tobacco fields and tours of the El Laguito factory. Participants also had a chance to visit the Cohiba headquarters. Throughout the week, Habano experts conducted talks and classes. Festival-goers were able to enjoy a variety of tastings and pairings with premium cigars, Chianti wines, whiskeys, rums, and more. As usual, the longest ash contest was held (photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters):

Francis Sierra smokes as she competes for the longest ash during the XVIII Habanos Festival in Havana

All things told, this year’s event was a huge success. Javier Terréz de Ercilla, vice president of Development at Habanos. S.A. stated, “There is no event like this in any other country … It is a unique showcase to launch new products, introduce our own products and exchange with consumers. I’ve been working in Cuba since 2000 and increasing numbers of enthusiasts of the cigars made on this island come, which makes us strive each year to offer the very best to our customers.”

Hopefully, with relations slowly warming between the US and Cuba, the annual Festival del Habano will only continue to grow in the years to come. Did you have a chance to attend Festival del Habano XVIII? We’d love to hear all about it. Share your experiences with us in the comments below!

MBombay Kesara Pyramid

MBombay Kesara Pyramid

Origin : Costa Rica
Format : Pyramid
MBombay CigarsSize : 7 x 54
Wrapper : Ecuador
Filler : Dominican Republic and Peru
Binder : Ecuador
Hand-Made
Price : ~$18 each

If you are shopping at the tobacconist and you spot MBombay Kesara cigars on the shelves, they’ll stand out instantly. They are quite unusual to look at, particularly where the band is concerned (more on that shortly). MBombay is a pretty new brand owned by Mel Shah. You may previously have known him better as the owner of Fame Wine & Cigar Lounge in Palm Springs. Shah’s cigar company MBombay launched in June of 2014 with two different lines: MBombay Classic and MBombay Maduro. The third line, Mōra, debuted that August. At the end of the year, Kesara came out.

Kesara is available in three sizes: a 6 x 52 toro, a 4 ½ x 54 robusto, and a 7 x 54 pyramid. Mel Shah, the owner, sent me a sampler of the pyramids (thanks Mel!), which I am reviewing today. And we've got some more cigars to give away, read on for details!

Read the full review of MBombay Kesara Pyramid...

Asylum 33 Robusto

Asylum 33 Robusto

Origin : Honduras
Format : Robusto
Asylum CigarsSize : 4.5 x 50
Wrapper : Honduran
Filler : Honduran
Binder : Honduran
Hand-Made
Price : ~$10 each
More info about purchasing Asylum 33 cigars...

It’s hard to believe that Asylum Cigars has only been around since 2012. They’ve become a huge name in the industry in a very short time. Mostly they’ve become famous for the Asylum 13. The number 13 is quite significant in occult circles, and Asylum has followed the same trend with the choice of “33”—a master number in the field of numerology. The number is displayed on the cigar on a shiny iridescent silver band under the familiar Illuminati symbol of an eye inside a pyramid.

Read the full review of Asylum 33 Robusto...

Get Ready for the 18th Festival del Habano

Get Ready for the 18th Festival del HabanoWe’re just a few days away now from the commencement of Festival Habano XVIII! The event will launch on February 29th and run through March 4th and will take place in Havana. Highlights for the festival include:

  • The 50th anniversary of Cohiba. Expect a number of exciting new releases, including special limited editions as well as new additions to the regular product lines. Festival-goers will also have a chance to tour the El Laguito factory and plantations in Vuelta Abajo.
  • The Gala Evening will pay special tribute to Cohiba and will feature performances by Estrella Morente, Jorge Drexler, Chucho Valdés, and rising stars Alain Pérez, Cucu Diamantes, and Geidi Chapman. The proceeds from the Humidor Auction will go to the Cuban Public Health system. As always, the “Habanos Man of the Year” trophies will be awarded in every category.
  • The 20th anniversary of Cuaba. In celebration, the brand will be releasing an exclusive special edition for La Casa del Habano.
  • Participants will also get an early glimpse at 2016 limited editions from Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, and Trinidad. Also expect new cigars from Habanos Añejados, Hoyo de Monterrey, Partagás, and H. Upmann.

Throughout the week, participants will not only be able to sample some of 2016’s most highly-anticipated new stogies, but will also be able to enjoy delicious pairings with Havana Club rum and gourmet Cuban cuisine. This year’s contests will include the 15th annual Habanos Sommelier International Competition as well as the competition for the longest ash.

The 18th Festival del Habano is set to be a week-long celebration of Cuban cigars and culture, packed full of fun and excitement. If you have a chance to attend, lucky you! Please share your experiences with us in the comments!

Where to Buy and Smoke Cigars in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City

Where to Buy and Smoke Cigars in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh Ville

If you’ve ever found yourself in Ho Chi Minh City, better known as Saigon, you know that this is a fascinating city with a lot to see and do. There is beautiful French colonial architecture and a great deal of history to explore. But you may find yourself feeling a little bit lost when it comes to cigars.

This is because (to my knowledge) there really is basically just one decent shop. Thankfully there are a few classy bars, most of them located on rooftops (you might be able to buy cigars in some of those bars, but at higher prices). Here is the rundown so that you know where to go if you are ever in Saigon!

Click here to read the full article...

Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill

Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill

Origin : CubaRomeo y Julieta
Format : Wide Churchill / Montesco (Robusto)
Size : 5.1 (130 mm) x 55
Release : 2010
Box code : RAE JUN15
Hand-Made
Price : $283 for a box of 25
More info about purchasing Romeo y Julieta cigars...

Recently I had the opportunity to finally sample a branded cigar that is readily available in my market, but typically supplied from different countries in Central America (editor's note: non-Cuban Romeo y Julietas, some of them are reviewed here). Typically these smokes have been dry, grainy and more akin to puffing on a pile of sawdust than a true fine quality cigar. I am happy to say that the Cuban Romeo y Julieta rose to the occasion and has offered a stout cigar with plenty of taste that should satisfy most any avid Cubano lover and beginner alike. It is a nice smoke at an economical price for a Cuban.

Read the full review of Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill...

Eric Renner’s Contest Painting

Eric Renner's Rocky Patel Painting

Remember the contest we ran a few weeks ago? Eric Renner, a painter & cigar enthusiast, was willing to do a painting of the winner's favorite cigar, and you can see the result above. Looks impressive!

Local Directory Launch (& Contest!)

Cigar-friendly Places

I am excited today to announce the unveiling of a brand new feature here on Cigar Inspector, our Directory of Local Cigar Friendly Places!

Visit the link above and you can input your location and see a list of cigar-friendly places next to you (there are 800+ listings so far, most of them in the US but we're working on adding more!). These include cigar lounges, tobacconists, hotels that welcome cigar smokers at their bars, and so on. This is great both for finding destinations in your local community, and for helping you know where to shop and smoke when you are traveling.

If you are a business owner, you can claim your listing (like you would in Google Places or Yelp)—or add it if you do not already see it. Once you claim the listing, you can adjust it to make it stand out among the featured listings.

La Flor Dominicana La Nox

To inaugurate the new directory, we are hosting a contest! The winner will be chosen randomly and will receive a box of La Flor Dominicana La Nox (see Ray's raving review here), one of the best cigars released in 2015.

There are a couple of easy ways you can enter!

  1. Post a comment on this post sharing your feedback on the directory. I am looking for suggestions here which will improve the feature for all of us. This will count as one entry into the contest.
  2. Add a review to the directory (at least 30 words in length). If the shop you wish to review is not yet in the directory, you can submit the details for this shop. You can find the submission form here. Once you submit the information, I will add it to the directory myself and send you the link so you can add your review. You can post as many reviews as you want in the directory. Each will count toward three entries into the contest.

The more reviews you post, the higher your chances to win - and for every 50 reviews I'll throw a cool 5-pack in the prize pool! This contest will run through the 17th of March. Thank you for your participation, and I hope you enjoy using the new feature!

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