The Cuban capital played host to the successful 19th Habano Festival (February 27-March 3), the largest annual international event for lovers of premium hand rolled cigars, which had as its main protagonists the H. Upmann, Montecristo and Quai D’Orsay brands.
Over five intense days, around 2,000 participants from some 50 countries, as well as more than 180 national and international journalists, discovered and delighted in the best tobacco in the world, the product of a centuries-long tradition on the island. Attendees had the exclusive opportunity to enjoy new vitolas being presented this 2017 by Habanos S.A, sponsor of the Festival together with the Tabacuba Enterprise Group.
KEY RESULTS OF HABANOS S.A
During an encounter with the press at the Havana International Convention Center, the company’s marketing director, Enrique Babot Espinosa, noted that this is a positive time for Habanos S.A, which saw sales of some 445 million dollars last year, representing a 5% increase as compared to 2015. “This shows that despite the difficult international scenario, Habanos S.A. maintains its position as a leading cigar brand.”
The representative emphasized that the company’s premium cigars occupy around 70% of the global market share in units and 80% in regards to revenue (excluding the United States, to which the entity does not have access given the economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba).
In this regard, Javier Terrés Ercilla, vice president of Development, stated that the company is very pleased with results obtained last year.
“We must put the 5% sales increase in context, given that the international luxury goods industry only saw slight growth over the same period, which says a lot about the strengthen of our products, such as Cohiba, Montecristo, Partagás, Hoyo de Monterrey, H. Upmann, and Romeo y Julieta, among others, which represent a great asset in our hands. Given this reality we feel reasonably optimistic about the future and impending challenges.”
Terrés Ercilla went on to note that the entity’s most important markets include Spain, France, China, Germany, Cuba, and Switzerland in that order. “These countries make up over 50% of the company’s entire sales, highlighting that the tourist boom in Cuba, which received over four million international visitors last year, has impacted sales increases in this sphere on the island in 2016.”
Meanwhile, the associated Trade Fair occupied a special place in this year’s event, representing a unique moment and the ideal occasion for technical and commercial exchanges between businesspeople, producers, artisans, artists, and suppliers linked to the world of Cuban cigar products.
Rodrigo Malmierca, the island’s minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, and Justo Luis Fuentes, President of the Tabacuba Enterprise Group, had the honor of inaugurating the Fair, which also took place in the Havana Convention Center, and according to the Cuban minister, had “one of the highest participation rates of the 19 editions held to date.”
In this sense he thanked exhibitors from Germany, China, Canada, Italy, Spain, France, and Panama, while also highlighting the incredible response once again from Cuban exhibitors, with 48 entities presenting a wide range of offers across diverse spheres such as crafts, cultural and musical production, fashion, tourism, gastronomy, and of course everything related to cigars, including collectable items and smoking accessories, such as a wide variety of innovative cases and humidors.
NEW SIR WINSTON, QUAI D’ORSAY & MONTECRISTO CIGARS PRESENTED
Not even the rain could dampen the enthusiasm of guests attending the Welcome Evening at the beautiful and historic Club Habana, founded in 1928 on the shore of Havana’s western coastline, and located near to the Marina Hemingway and neighborhood of Jaimanitas.
The great attraction of the night was undoubtedly the H. Upmann‘s Gran Reserva Cosecha 2011 in its Sir Winston vitola (47 x 178mm).
The best filler, binder, and wrapper leaves from the 2011 harvests in the Vueltabajo region of Pinar del Río province were selected to create this cigar, which underwent a lengthy and meticulous five-year aging process.
This is the brand’s first Gran Reserva line, presented in a one-time launch featuring 5,000 exclusive boxes each containing 20 cigars.
The brand’s flagships collection which was preceded by its first Reserve line, launched in 2014, in the vitola Upmann No. 2, made with carefully selected leaves from the 2010 harvest.
Meanwhile the Quai D’Orsay Tribute Night took place in the Main Hall of the Laguito cigar factory, located in the neighborhood of Miramar, during which the brand’s new design was presented alongside two novel vitolas: The Quai D’Orsay No. 50 (50 x 110mm) and No. 54 (54 x 135mm), available in units of 10 and 25 cigars which, in addition to the Coronas Claro vitola (42 x 142mm) make for an attractive portfolio of products, which will be available to purchase worldwide in 2017.
All Quai D’Orsay cigars are made entirely by hand, with the long filler leaves grown in Pinar del Rio’s Vueltabajo region.
In regards to the brand’s new look, the cigar band maintains its original geometric design, but is now bigger and better quality, featuring different gold tones, reliefs, and wefts. The global launch of the line will give smokers across the world the chance to discover and enjoy this special cigar, which contains all the flavor, character, and intensity which makes Cuban tobacco the best in the world.
This gem within Habanos S.A.’s portfolio, was created exclusively in 1973 by Cubatabaco for the French market, at the request of SEITA, the European nation’s former state-owned tobacco company, whose name refers to the famous port in Paris, where the facility was once based.
Meanwhile, taking place at the capital’s PABEXPO fairgrounds was the Gala Night dedicated to the Montecristo brand, which launched its newest and most exclusive 1935 Line, featuring original vitolas from the Leyenda (55 x 165mm), Dumas (49 x 130mm) and Maltés (53 x 153mm) collections.
All the cigars are hand rolled with long filler leaves and completed with the finest wrapper and binder leaves selected from the best tobacco farms in Vueltabajo; renowned for their strong flavor, which complements the medium to strong taste of the Clásica and Edmundo lines, and medium-flavor Open collection.
These three cigars are the result of concerted efforts between Habanos S.A, Tabacuba, monitored by their respective quality departments, and the most experienced cigar masters.
Montecristo is perhaps the most well known and appreciated of Habanos S.A.’s brands. The variety takes its name from the novel The Count of Monte Cristo, by celebrated French author and playwright Alejandro Dumas (1802-1870), and was founded in 1935 in the H. Upmann factory in Havana.
Meanwhile, other products presented during the Festival included Romeo y Julieta Petit Royales (47x95mm), as well as 2017 Limited Editions: Cohiba Talismán, Partagás Serie No. 1 and Punch Regios de Punch, the latter a medium strength, shorter cigar with a new thickness, among others.
In addition, this 19th Habano Festival upheld the annual challenge of offering the best combinations of cigars (Protected Denomination of Origin) and most exclusive beverages in the world, during which the prestigious Brandy de Jerez presented four of its most appreciated brandies: the Lepanto Solera Gran Reserva (González Byass), Cardenal Mendoza Carta Real (Bodegas Sánchez Romate), Fundador Exclusivo (Bodegas Fundador) and Carlos I Imperial (Bodegas Osborne), which were paired with Trinidad Vigía and Partagás Serie D No. 4, two habanos popular among consumers.
Other highlights of the festival included the eagerly-awaited tour of tobacco farms in the San Juan y Martínez region of Pinar del Rio, and the La Corona and H. Upmann factories in Havana, in addition to the International Habanosommelier Competition. The International Seminar and master classes also took place, featuring topics such as “H. Upmann, the connoisseurs’ brand,” “The past, present, and future of Quai D’Orsay,” “Montecristo: lines for all tastes;” “The art of combining (wrapper, binder and filler leaves),” - a workshop on the hand-rolling technique, as well as the longest ash competition.
After almost two decades, the combination of all these activities have made the Festival the ideal place to promote the planet's best cigars, Cuban cigars.