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Richard's Diary : Gallery

Cuban Cigars

Habanos S.A. or not Habanos S.A. - is there even a question?

By Richard on September, 27th 2011 - 4:20 pm

I am sure you have noticed the recent increase of Cuban cigar sites claiming to be based in and shipping out of the Swiss Free Zone and yet, have their Sales or Administrative offices in another country. You must be wondering how big the Free Zone is here in Geneva with all the new sites that keep popping up every day. Believe me, I am the most surprised and the most frustrated by this worrying trend. What these new sites are not saying or omitting to say, is where and how they get their supply of Cuban cigars. Let us remember a very simple fact. Habanos S.A. distribute their cigars onto the world market through regional Importers. These Importers are contracted to distribute locally. Every region of the world has an Official Importer (the most recognizable being InterTabak (Switzerland), Altadis S.A. (Spain & France), Hunters & Frankau (UK) or Havana House (Canada), see Habanos S.A. site for full list of world Importers). A cigar merchant who is an official Habanos S.A. retailer is obliged to get their Cuban cigars supplied through these Official Regional Habanos S.A. Importers. This is regulated by a very simple factor, the cigar merchant must be located in the country where they are supplied (not in a free zone, as these areas are not and cannot by supplied by the Regional Importers). Any sites claiming to be based in the free zone of a country in not being supplied by a Habanos S.A. Regional Importer. This naturally begs the question; where are these cigars coming from? I mention all this as recently I have had a number of new Members asking me why we are so much more expensive that other sites based in Switzerland. I turn the question around, how do these new sites who claim to be in Switzerland, sell their cigars so much cheaper than all the established Swiss Official Habanos S.A. sites and more worryingly, why do these new sites claim to be Official Habanos S.A. retailers, when clearly they cannot be?

originally posted Oct 2008

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David's Best cigars of 2010

By David on January, 14th 2011 - 2:10 pm

2010 was a fantastic year for Cuban cigars with productions of excellent quality both in smoke and construction. A large number of new and varied items have brought a wave of new aficionados who are discovering the joys of the Habano. Several smokes have marked me personally during the past year.

Trinidad Robustos T
Montecristo Open Regata
Cohiba Behike 54
Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills
El Rey del Mundo Elegantes Swiss Regional Production 2010
Trinidad Short Robustos T Edicion Limitada 2010
Partagas Series D Especiales Edicion Limitada 2010

All have impressed by their blend or potential. Like all great Cubans, these cigars will only get better with time in the humidor.

The Edicion Limitada 2010 are coming

By Richard on May, 12th 2010 - 11:17 am

The much anticipated 2010 Edicion Limitada cigars from Habanos will be on the market very soon. This Limitada series has become more and more popular since its introduction 2000 and the new sizes will no doubt be a big success again this year -

Montecristo Grand Edmundo - 52 ring gauge, 15 cm - box of 10 cigars

Trinidad Short Robustos T - 50 ring gauge, 10.2 cm - box of 12 cigars

Partagas Serie D Especial - 50 ring gauge, 14.1 cm - box of 10 cigars

Cohiba Behike

By Richard on May, 10th 2010 - 11:48 am

Habanos have announced the imminent release of the much anticipated new Cohiba Behike line, billed as being the most exclusive cigars ever produced. The new series will be available in 52, 54, and 56 ring gauge and will be released in boxes of 10 cigars. Each cigar has a specially created band which contains a hologram. These will not be cheap, but will be well worth the investment. Initial feedback from fellow smokers who have sampled these cigars is excellent. We can expect exceptional cigars. Collectors and smokers alike, this is one not to be missed. TopCubans.com hope to have an initial batch of these in the next week or so.

You can see:
Habanos on the Behike

What makes a great smoke?

By Richard on February, 01st 2010 - 2:50 pm

Having just reviewed our favorite smokes of 2009, the questions begs; how do you rate a great cigar? Is a great cigar a cigar that is expensive, rare or produced in very limited quantities? Does it's intended status of rare or limited guarantee it to be a great cigar? My personal belief is no. I have smoked many cigars that were produced in very limited series or were only produced for one specific event (Dinner of the Century, Habanos Festival, etc..) and they have not been great smokes and in many cases, these tended to be pretty average smokes. Does a properly aged cigar guarantee a great smoke? Again, difficult to say yes or no. The positive side is that when you smoke an aged cigar you will get the bouquet intended by the blend master when the blend was developed. But most people palates are not tuned to the subtlety of aged blends and find them light and lacking in depth. An aged cigar can be frustrating as they often suffer from draw problems. The criteria we used for classifying a great smoke is simple; Was it a memorable smoking occasion? I believe that the cigar itself is one aspect of this experience and it is the environmental influences that make the smoke great or not. I have smoked many regular production cigars that have been memorable experiences because of whom I smoked with and where and why I was smoking. On the other hand I have smoked special cigars (limited lines or aged) that have given me the ultimate 'Cigar smoke'. My belief is that there are special cigars and that there are special smokes. Both bring different pleasures and both could qualify as being great. Your memory will dictate which of the above ticks the boxes for your idea of great. Give us your thoughts.

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Cohiba Gran Reserva

By Richard on October, 30th 2009 - 1:59 pm

Now Available on TopCubans.com!!!!

The Cohiba Siglo VI Gran Reserva

Factory size (Vitola de Galera): Cañonazo, ring 52 x 150mm
Comercial Name (Vitola de Salida): Cohiba SigloVI Gran Reserva 2003
Presentation: 5000 numbered boxes containing 15 cigars, double banded Cohiba and Gran Reserva

'Habanos S.A is pleased to present the "Gran Reserva", launched for the first time ever in "Cohiba", the most prestigious premium cigar brand in the world. It is the first ever Habanos Gran Reserva elaborated with the best Cuban tobacco leaves from San Juan y Martínez and San Luis harvested in 2003, and carefully aged for five years before reaching the cigar rollers hands. The eagerly awaited Cohiba Gran Reserva reaches finally the most select markets in the World. This first ever Habanos Gran Reserva enhances the unique character of Habanos as a “Denominacion de Origen Protegida” (protected Denomination of origin). The Gran Reserva concept means the best of what Habanos has ever made. The best Cuban tobacco leaves harvested in 2003 have been selected, fermented and inspected for a long period of five years. All the leaves used to make up a Habano -the wrapper, the filler and the binder have undergone this meticulous 5 year process. Those precious leaves, after five years of care, are then laid in the skillful hands of Cohiba´s expert Cuban cigar-rollers at "El Laguito" factory in order to create this exquisite Habano for the most distinguished smokers. Furthermore, the emblematic vitola "Siglo VI" (girth 52 x 150mm length) has been chosen for the production of this first Habanos Gran Reserva. Every part of the process respects the criteria that one would demand of such a unique product. From the careful process of fermentation using the best tobacco from San Juan, Martinez and San Luis, to the exquisite blend selection process supervised by 50 testers, all elements are checked to combine so as to respect the unique character of Cohiba.'

Habanos.com

You can see:
Habanos S.A.
C.A.'s James Suckling rates the Cohiba Gran Reserva 100/100

A drop in quality for the Cuban cigar?

By Richard on August, 27th 2009 - 9:55 am

The Cuban cigar has had its up's and down's over the years, no one can deny that. Everyone can remember the end of the 90's and a real drop in construction quality due to rushed and over production. Certain year's have had better or worse quality harvests caused by a numbers of factors, leading to certain year's productions being superior, almost wine like Millesimes. That said, the undeniable quality of Cuban tobacco consistently gives us cigars of character with complex and sophisticated blends matched by no other. We are experiencing an interesting period in Habanos's history, as the Cuban tobacco giant tries to adapt its production to the wishes and needs of the modern smoker. On the one hand we are getting fantastic new sizes, exciting new blends and regular supply of the full Habanos catalogue, on the other we are noticing slight problems with rolling. The economic situation has hit Cuba too, with factories closing for part of the Summer. Is this slight fumble in quality caused by these factors only, hard to tell. One thing is for sure, now is the time to rely on your official Habanos retailer. Only an official Habanos retailer will perform all the necessary checks on your cigars to assure you a quality smoke, as well as guarantee the origin of the product. The black mark in all this is the sad reality that the market is still being flooded by second rate copy cigars introduced by so-called cigar merchants, unfortunately many of them claiming to be based in Geneva's Free zone (stay well away form any site who claims this!!!). These 'pushers' who claim they are selling Cuban cigars could be the reason for the general impression of a drop in quality of Cuba cigars. Help save the Cuban cigar by saying no to these thieves. Our passion is being ruined by a bunch of lowly con men. Let's not let this happen! Give us your thoughts.

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Trinidad Robustos T

By Richard on August, 12th 2009 - 10:04 am

This new Trinidad Robustos T (ring gauge 50, length 124 mm) is destined for the experienced smoker and rekindles the past glory of complex, medium bodied cigars. Creamy from the on set, the lovely aromas of wood, leather and gentle spice make the initial phase of this cigar very pleasant. The power starts to kick in during the second phase, but the aromas match the mounting strength. The finale is powerful, what you expect from a cigar of this shape and size. The delicate golden wrappers, so familiar to the Trinidad family, give an aura of class to this beautiful cigar. Will no doubt quickly become a firm favorite for any smoker of Habanos. Now available in Cabinets of 12 or 24 cigars.

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New Habanos 2009 Edicion Limitada

By Richard on August, 03rd 2009 - 2:58 pm

The new 2009 Habanos Edicion Limitada have been released and look as though they will no doubt be very popular. Habanos continue on their short, fat cigars for the EL series, with the new -

Romeo y Julieta Duke (ring gauge 54 x 140 mm in the length). This new size will delight the senses of the true Habanos lover in a delicate combination of passion and excellence. Available in labelled boxes with 10 sticks in one layer. (Habanos.com)

Bolívar Petit Belicosos (ring gauge 52 x 125 mm in the length). This brand is presented within the Limited Edition for the first time. One of the most full bodied Habanos that boasts an unrivalled richness of flavour that makes it one of the most sought-after brands amongst experienced smokers. Cigars will be packaged in labelled boxes comprising 25 units. (Habanos.com)

H.Upmann Magnum 48 (ring gauge 48 x 110 mm in the length). Always regarded as a light to medium-flavoured smoke, this cigar stands out for its smooth flavour and delicate aroma. Cigars will be presented in SLB boxes containing 25 units. (Habanos.com)

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Montecristo's New Open line - soon available on TopCubans.com

By Richard on June, 21st 2009 - 12:00 am

The 2009 Habanos S.A. Festival in February saw the launch of the new Montecristo Line of cigars. The four Montecristo Open sizes include the Junior, 38 ring gauge by 110mm (4 1/3 inches), the Regatta (Figurado), 46 by 135mm (5 1/3 inches), the Master, 50 by 124mm (4 7/8 inches), and Eagle, 54 by 150mm (5 7/8 inches). The four cigars carry the traditional brown and cream Montecristo band, but they also have second green band with gold and white lettering. The Open line has been created for outdoor sporty smoking and has a blend which is fresher than the usual Montecristo spicy bouquet. These new Montecristo cigars will be available in the near future. Look out for the TopCubans.com Newsletter to be the first to try these cigars.

You can see:
Cigar Aficionado's James Suckling on the Montecristo Open

Cuban Government change the warranty seal

By Richard on March, 31st 2009 - 10:17 am

In a continuing effort to thwart the counterfeiting industry, Habanos S.A., the worldwide distributor of Cuban cigars, has introduced a new security seal with additional safety features to validate the authenticity of its highly counterfeited product. (C.A. March 18th)

You can see:
Habanos S.A.
Cigar Aficionado article

More band changes on Habanos

By Richard on March, 18th 2009 - 10:13 am

Watch out for more changes on certain Habanos. The old white Hoyo bands (Double Corona and Churchill) are now to be replaced by the standard smaller red Hoyo bands. Look out for these on more recent productions. After RyJ and Hoyo, who will be next to modify the bands?

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Unique Habanos Packs

By Richard on March, 17th 2009 - 11:15 am

Fantastic new arrival of Habanos Packs on TopCubans.com. These are unique packs made by Habanos S.A. to celebrate anniversaries, product launches or new formats. Very popular at the moment is the Estuche Habanos X Festival pack, a selection of 10 cigars that have marked the first 10 Habanos Festivals. The Habanos Retail travel pack is also a beautiful selection, each cigar comes in its individual clear tube, with humidification system and punch cutter built in. Perfect for gifts or a treat for you!

New Habanos S.A. Release

By Richard on October, 20th 2008 - 5:40 pm

Arrival of the all new Bolivar Legendarios Regional Production 2008 for the Swiss market. Rarely have I seen in recent times a Habano with so much character and potential. So oily and so rich, this cigar is a must for lovers of power smokes and enthusiasts of aging. Remember, it is a Habanos S.A. Regional Production, so it is only available from official Swiss Habanos S.A. merchants and for a short time only.

How much should you pay for a Cuban cigar?

By Richard on February, 20th 2008 - 11:38 am

A huge number of questions coming in at the moment about why prices are so high, can we price match, etc, etc.... We seem to slowly be forgetting the fact that smoking Cuban hand rolled, long filler cigars is a luxurious and expensive hobby. There is no way getting round this. One would not barter and question the prices of a Bordeaux Grand Cru Red wine, who would buy Kobe beef on the cheap? Would you pay half price for a brand new Ferrari? I understand the problems in getting an idea of the true price/value for a Cuban cigar (believe me, information distribution is not the strong point of Habanos S.A.), as these vary so much from country to country (remember, taxes do vary from country to country, making a big difference on prices) and from merchant to merchant (take the time to check out if the merchant is credible, are they located in the country they say they are, are they supplied by the Official Habanos S.A. Importer for their region, check with other smokers and cigar forums, etc...). Simple steps to be taken, check each merchant with the regional Habanos S.A. Importer, they will always be listed. Run miles away from any merchants who sell cigars 50% cheaper then anyone else (they will be fake!!!), run miles away from merchants who sell rare and out of production cigars at discount prices (they will be fake!!), use the recognized figure head's in the business to get an idea price (Gerard et Fils, Cigar Aficionado, Paresh Patel, etc...), if you travel abroad, visit cigar merchants in different countries, always check out the tax-free shops in airports. By doing all this you will get an idea of how much you should be paying and what you should definitely not be wasting your time buying.

Share your views and experiences with us...

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Valentines - spend it with a smoke you love

By Richard on February, 14th 2008 - 11:05 am

The dream date for Valentines day; bottle of Champagne, Scottish smoked salmon served on a hillside spot overlooking the Alps. Just you, your food and a Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill. Bliss.

The bigger, the stronger ?

By Richard on November, 30th 2007 - 11:30 am

Does the size correspond to the strength? No, this is a miss-conception. The size of the cigar does not have a direct influence on the strength of the cigar. The power in a cigar, comes from the blend of tobacco used. Three different leaves are used for creating the blend (filler) in a Cuban hand rolled, long filler cigar. The Volado leaf gives the light, more aromatic aspects to the blend, the Seco is the medium aspect leaf and the Ligero is the leaf that gives the power to the cigars. Using different combinations of these leaves gives the different blends one finds in the different families and vitoles. In fact, the bigger the cigar, the slower the build up to the finale. This is why it is recommended for novice smokers to start on a bigger ring gauge, longer cigar, as the smoke will be less direct and warms up in a more gentle way (ex - Gloria Cubana Tainos, Hoyo Double Corona). This said, naturally if you have a big cigar with a heavy bias of Ligero leaf in the blend it will have a very strong third phase (ex - Partagas Lusitanias, Bolivar Coronas Gigantes).

The final EL 2007, now available!

By Richard on November, 14th 2007 - 6:15 pm

The last of the Habanos S.A. 2007 Edicion Limitada's is now available. The Cuban Trinidad Ingenios Edicion Limitada 2007 is the first ever Edicion Limitada from the Trinidad Family. The tobacco used for these cigars is aged for 2 years and wrapped with a dark/maduro wrapper. This Cuban Lonsdale will suit smokers who enjoy subtle, slow smokes. Perfect cigar for the rocking chair. Try it and give us your thoughts.

Halloween Party Cigars

By Richard and Rick on October, 25th 2007 - 12:43 pm

'Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting, Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.'

A Shakespearean mouthful that evokes all the terrifying excitement of the All Hallows Eve. Here at TopCubans.com, we organize an annual Halloween fancy dress party (an excellent excuse for a food, drink and smoke orgy, our own little end of harvest celebration), which allows us to share some of our favorite Cuban cigars with friends in a very relaxed atmosphere. Share with us what you are doing and smoking for this Halloween eve...

Halloween Tombola - In order to make your 'Halloween' even more scary, we are offering a series of gifts. Look in your your cigar boxes ordered between 24th-31st Oct, to find tokens that will allow you to win free cigars. If you find the following -

Orange Pumpkin - Green Ghost

Simply write the token you found in the comment box on your next order (example "Green Ghost" if you found an Green ghost) and I will send your gift with your package. Terrifying, isn't it!

You can see:
All things Halloween

2007 Limited Edicion!

By Richard on August, 09th 2007 - 4:34 pm

Wow! Are we lucky! Topcubans have bagged the new Edicion Limitadas from Hoyo De Monterrey and from Romeo Y Julieta ! Great for ageing these EL's would be a classy addition to your humidor. So get ready to rumble!

New Cigars in Stock

By Richard on January, 10th 2007 - 12:18 pm

Look out for the all new Montecristo Petit Edmundo, now available on TopCubans.com. Great small, power smoke, which will suit the palate in search of a strong break time cigar.

Cohiba Piramides EL 2006 in stock

By Richard on November, 29th 2006 - 12:19 pm

In stock in very limited quantities, the Cohiba Piramides EL 2006. If you want to try this cigar don't wait around. There are not many and they are very popular. Enjoy !

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