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Richard's Diary : Gallery

Cuban cigar culture

Summer Smoking

By David on June, 19th 2012 - 4:04 pm

My mind turns to flavour, flavour and more flavour during the Summer months. My Partagas, Bolivars and other full bodied cigars go to the back of my humidor for another six months resting and my Montecristo, Trinidad and Hoyo's come to the forefront. The warmer weather means my palate is looking less for richness and intensity and more for freshness and taste. My wine goes from Bordeaux to Bourgogne, my food goes from stews to grilled white meats and fish and my cigars follow the trend. If you are looking for something a bit different to go with your long afternoon aperitifs or to accompany you through a BBQ, why not try the Montecristo Open series cigars. These cigars have a fresh quality that truly works with white wines or beer. Get Tubos cigars, perfect for on the go smoking (without having to carry around a portable humidor). Finally, why not try the new H.Upmann Half Corona cigars. The perfect small cigars packed with flavour. But most importantly, enjoy your Summer smoking!

Happy Father's Day

By David & Richard on June, 15th 2012 - 5:00 pm

So Father's Day is this weekend so hope you can all sit back, watch the football games that are on, crack open your beer along with a great Cuban cigar in hand.

Whether you are out and about on the golf course, watching the US OPEN, watching the Euros or just in the garden with the BBQ, make sure you have a good cigar to chomp on and enjoy. Combined with great weather it really makes for the perfect weekend.

Our deals will be on for this weekend so it's your last chance to take advantage of some amazing deals. Also keep in mind the offer of "any cigar your like" for all orders over 350$. Just write it into the order notes section and a Behike stick could be yours!

Enjoy browsing and as always any questions, just drop me or Richard an email on info@topcubans.com

Father's Day Offers 2012 now on line!

By David on May, 31st 2012 - 5:01 pm

Father's Day has always been a great smoking event on TopCubans.com, so it is with great pleasure that we present you the 2012 offers -

Fathers' Day Deals - an on going seleccion of the best Cuban cigars at the best prices.

David's Memorable Father's Day Smokes - Suggested cigars to discover during the Father's Day weekend.

Father's Day Combos - Special Combination offers where you get more cigars for less cost.

Father's Day Samples - Special Sample packs put together with social smoking in mind.

Enjoy!

David &
TopCubans.com team

Champions League Final 2012

By David on May, 18th 2012 - 12:27 pm

The 2012 UEFA Champions League Final will be played on Saturday 19th May in Munich's Arena at 20h45. This year's final sees a surprise final, with everyone expecting a Real Madrid Barcelona. Bayern Munich will play the Chelsea FC. This is a game not to miss. Why not do like the TopCubans.com team and make a special evening of this Smokin' event.

You can see:
UEFA - Official web site

Easter Island Craziness!

By David on April, 13th 2012 - 3:16 pm

What a treat to have been sent in this great picture from a friend of the site along with some others, who was on Easter Island this past week. Hope you all had a relaxing break, and took sometime to kick off the shoes and chill-out with some quality Cubans?!

I was up in Zermatt for the final ski of the season and popped along to the Zino Lounge in the Alpenhof Hotel - one of the most pleasurable locations to enjoy a great cigar. With a bit of bite still in the evening air, and the Matterhorn mountain overshadowing the town, it remains the ultimate place to smoke the night away.

Hope you enjoyed wherever you were, but a particular shout-out to our friends over on Easter Island who were in one of the most spectacular places on Earth.

To the good weather...cheers!

David and Richard

Habanos Festival XIV - Havana, Cuba

By David on January, 10th 2012 - 11:36 am

Feb 27 - Mar 02 2012 sees the XIV Habanos Festival taking place in in Havana, Cuba. This year Habanos celebrates Cohiba and Romeo y Julieta, as well as the 520th anniversary of tobacco. Find the detailed program below and be sure to follow the festival on TopCubans.com.

Sunday 26/02

10.00-16.00 -Registration (Palacio de Convenciones)

From Monday, February 27th until March the 2nd, registration will be possible from 9 hrs to 16 hrs

Monday 27/02

9:30 -10:30 - Press conference. Handing out of the press dossier on the XIVth Festival (Hall 3, Palacio de Convenciones)

10:30-17:00 - Preliminary International Habanosommelier Contest (Hall 5)

14:00 - Trade Fair opening

14.30 - Preliminary Habanos D.O.P. / D.O.C. Vinho do Porto (Port wines) Alliance (Hall 6)

19:00 - Welcome evening - Concert: “ECLECTIC-US” by Augusto Enríquez and guests. Karl Marx Theater

20:30 - Welcome cocktail: Salón Rojo at Cristino Naranjo Club

Tuesday 28/02

07:00 - Visit to plantations in Vuelta Abajo, Pinar del Río

10:00 - Preliminary: Blind tasting of Habanos with the participation of factory tasters, sommeliers and aficionados (Hall 6)

Wednesday 29/02

10:.00-10:15 - Opening of the International Seminar (Hall 4)

10:15-11:15 - Master Lecture (Hall 4)

11:.45-13:15 - Master Class on cigar rolling technique "Totalmente a Mano" Making a Cañonazo. (Hall 3)

13:15-14:45 - Lunch at “El Bucán” restaurant

15:.00-16:30 - Flavors and Aromas: combinations of Habanos with cachaza, beer and other products

20:00 - 520 Anniversary Evening: "Bellas Artes Museum, Cuban Art Building"

Thursday 01/03

09:.00-12:00 - Visit to Habanos factories

12:30-14:00 - Lunch at El Bucán restaurant

14:00-15:30 - Final: Habanos Blind Tasting Contest (Hall 4)

15:30-17:00 - Final Habanos D.O.P. / D.O.C. Vinho do Porto (Port wines) Alliance

20:00 - Dinner offered by ICT

Friday 02/03

9:30-11:00 - International Habanosommelier Final Contest (Hall 3)

11:30-12:30 - Projection of the James Suckling and James Orr Film "Cigars: The Heart and Soul of Cuba" (Hall 1)

12:30- 13.00 - Closing of the Seminar and Trade Fair (Hall 1)
Awarding Ceremony:
- Best stand of each category
- Winner of the International Habanosommelier Contest

- Winner of the Video Contest "Habanos in Images"

- Winner of Blind Tasting Contest

13:00 - Farewel Lunch at “El Bucán” restaurant

19:00 - Gala Night: Dedicated to Romeo y Julieta PABEXPO (Hall C)

Smokey Reflections on the Upcoming New Year

By David & Richard on December, 29th 2011 - 3:53 pm

Hello all! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!
Just a final entry into the blog before the year is out and what a year it has been. Undoubtedly 2012 will no doubt be as unpredictable as this year.

The end of year gives us all that opportunity to take a step back from our insanely fast-paced world and think about the important things in life. Family, friends and fun.

I know in the grand scheme of things, cigars come further down on the list of essentials in life, but I think they are an excellent antidote to the fast approaching Nanny-State we are all living in this world of ours.

We seem to have lost time for one another, preferring to be stuck on our BlackBerrys and Iphones every spare second we have. Our fondest memories are the ones where we take time to spend with each other and what better way than to have a fine Cuban cigar for this. I am of the firm believe that the best cigar moments are when smoking among friends - atmosphere and good company round off a good cigar perfectly. We are very lucky to be in the business of making people happy and contributing to helping making those moments magical. Long may it continue! Bonne Année!

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Christmas Smoking Cubans on TopCubans.com

By David on November, 22nd 2011 - 11:23 am

Look out for the start of our annual Christmas Offers. So visit when you can and fill up your stockings with all the wonderful Christmas smoking spirit found on TopCubans.com

Updated - Habanos price rises

By David on August, 13th 2011 - 2:50 am

Well folks, it has finally come. We have managed to put it off for a number of years now, but there will be a price increases on Cuban cigars this summer. Habanos S.A. keep raising their prices (around 5% a year) and we must now follow. This situation has been amplified by Habanos S.A. promising more cigars to the new markets without producing more stock. The result is an additional price rise on the products due to lack of supply. We have fought long and hard to keep our prices stable, but this correction is now unavoidable. We will keep you informed of when these new prices will come into effect. My recommendation, stock up now while the prices are good and the choice is complete!

Date has been finalized - Price rises will come into effect as of Monday 22nd August on TopCubans.com

TopSmoking at the Moment

By David & Richard on August, 12th 2011 - 3:42 pm

Hi everyone - hope everyone has been enjoying the Summer holidays. I know the weather has been up and down in Europe and then scorching in other parts of the world so hard to generalise. Winter of course for our Southern Hemisphere friends!

Just a check in with you to share what myself and Richard feel are smoking great at the moment, the ones which suit this relaxing time of year. The Cohiba Behikes of course are going from strength to strength. Voted the best cigar of 2010 from Cigar Aficionado, they are a masterclass in construction, and pace superbly well over one of the most pleasant hours one could take.

Another excellent limited edition smoke is the Ramon Allones Superiores which is proving very popular having only been online for a few weeks now. Box of 10 for these Corona Gordas they are very tasty indeed!
Finally for an inexpensive smoke for a nice sunny day out by the pool or to take on your holiday, try the Hoyo de Monterrey "Du" series of which there are several brands to take your fancy. Some of these are not the regular size of cigars one might be used to but they have a special kind of flavour any open minded smoker would be curious to search out. The Du Maire in particular is smoking really well.

Enjoy browsing the site and I wish you all continued enjoyment of smoking the very best Cuban cigars!

Ich bin ein Barbequer

By David on May, 17th 2011 - 11:26 am

"Ich bin ein Barbequer"

Whether you are smoking, baking or braising, the month of May is the beginning of the BBQ season. A favorite here at TopCubans.com, the BBQ season is the ideal excuse to light up a fat Cuban cigar to slowly enjoy throughout an afternoon. Do not risk being disappointed; consult the TopCubans.com BBQ procedure –

1. The woman buys the food.
2. The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables and makes dessert.
3. The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man who is lounging beside the grill - Habano in hand.

Now, here comes the important part:

4. THE MAN PLACES THE MEAT ON THE GRILL.

Back to the routine...
5. The woman goes inside to organize the plates and cutlery.
6. The woman comes out to tell the man that the meat is looking great. He thanks her and asks if she will another Cuban while he flips the meat.

Important again:

7. THE MAN TAKES THE MEAT OFF THE GRILL AND HANDS IT TO THE WOMAN.

More routine...
8. The woman prepares the plates, salad, bread, utensils, napkins, sauces and brings them to the table.
9. After eating, the woman clears the table and does the dishes.

And most important of all:

10. Everyone PRAISES the MAN and THANKS HIM for his cooking efforts.
11. The man asks the woman how she enjoyed ' her night off ', and, upon seeing her annoyed reaction, concludes that there's just no pleasing some women!

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Problems at Habanos

By Richard on May, 04th 2011 - 12:14 pm

An interesting article recently appeared in the Economist (Smoked Out, 28th April) talking about the numerous problems that currently face Habanos S.A., internally and externally. Although we all suspected that corruption was rife and understood that the production of fakes and back-door-stock in Cuba and abroad was a real issue, it the scale of the problem that is worrying, to say the least. Habanos's Vice-President is now in jail in Cuba on massive corruption charges. The pushing of fakes/back-door-stock is in itself a problem for any smoker or cigar merchant, but the possible reasons put forward in the article behind this production and distribution of fakes/back-door-stock may hide larger, darker reasons. Suggestions of underhand selling of genuine Habanos S.A. stock by Habanos staff 'at a fraction of their normal price to black market distributors in the Caribbean in return for bribes' (up to 45m cigars), has resulted in a market confusion as to the true value of a Cuban cigar. One cannot and must not trust the prices of a shop/site that is pushing parallel distribution products (if you do, you are contributing to the overall problem). The article rightly points out that many online cigar retailers have contributed to this confusion by selling Cubans at 'improbably low prices', a point we have been trying to make on TopCubans.com for a number of years. One can only wonder (or now make an educated guess) where these types of shops/sites get their supply. All this brings us back to the basics. Cuban cigars remain a luxury product and luxury products cost, like it or not. If you want to be sure that your hard earned cash does not go up in imitation smoke, stay away from 'hard discount' Cuban cigars shops/sites. If the deal seems too good to be true, chances are that it will be too good to be true!

Please do not misunderstand me, I'm not saying everyone should only buy from TopCubans.com (there are many excellent web-based shops who work hard to promote the product and inform their clients), I have nothing against fair competition (it makes us all work harder to give you better service and choice of product), but take the time to inform yourself properly before committing. Too cheap - stay away. Price inconsistencies across products - stay away. Irregular supply of standard stock or very few products available (Habanos S.A. carry +/-350 cigar products) - stay away. Unable to contact the retailer or no communication - stay away. Its a complicated game, but with a little common sense and 'head over heart' thinking ($50 savings at purchase becomes a significant loss if you are not smoking the genuine article) you can enjoy Cuban cigars in all confidence. I do encourage you to read the full article and take from it what you will.

Enjoy,
Richard

You can see:
Smoked Out - The Economist Article 28th April

Easter smoking

By David on April, 15th 2011 - 6:28 pm

Easter/Passover is a peaceful time for those in search of the ultimate smoke. Find your own get away spot this Easter/Passover, to experience solo bliss. And to make the weekend smoke even better, we are offering you a cheque for $30 to spend on TopCubans.com over the Easter/Passover period*. Simply enter the promotional code, EasterTop11 in the ‘Promotional Claim Code field’ in step 4 of the order process and take advantage of an immediate rebate of $30.

Enjoy,
Happy smoking,
David and Richard

(*Conditions: can be used once per order, minimum order $250. Offer runs through 25th April, midnight local time. Please do not ask for extensions, as this is a time limited offer, therefore no extensions will be given)

Calibrate your humidor

By David on March, 29th 2011 - 5:36 pm

I have been re-arranging the humidor, to try and allow the greatest flow of air around the numerous boxes we currently have in stock. I cannot stress enough, how important it is to allow the air to circulate round your cigars. This allows the cigars to breath and for the fermentation process to remain constant, which in essence is 'aging' your cigars. In the same way I always go on about giving your cigars a few days in your humidor to recover from the stress of the shipping process, allowing them sufficient air circulation is essential to ease and relax your cigars, thus making your smoke a smooth and tasty one. With the warmer season approaching, do not get caught out by the change in atmosphere around your house/office which will affect the stability of your humidor. As it gets warmer, look for a cooler place to store your humidor. Remember, Habanos recommend 16-18°C (60-65°F) and 65-70% RH. Consistency is everything. Enjoy !

XIII Habanos Festval

By Habanos S.A. on February, 17th 2011 - 10:34 am

On February 21-25, 2011, Cuba, once more, will be the venue of the largest international gathering of enthusiasts of the best cigar in the world: the Habano. In this occasion, the event will pay special tribute to the Montecristo, Partagás and H. Upmann Habanos brands.

The participants will have the pleasure of flavoring in exclusive the new vitolas to be launched by Habanos, S.A. in 2011, and of discovering the secrets of centuries-long tradition. Habanos, S.A. invites you to enjoy a week of pleasure and delight among the friends who have one thing in common: the passion for Habanos.

The Habanos Festival program offers its traditional activities during this unforgettable week, such as:

- Visits to emblematic Habanos factories
- Trade Fair
- Seminars
- Tastings and marriages
- International Habanosommelier Contest
- Master Class on the cigar rolling technique
- Visits to tobacco plantations

The opening event will take place on Monday, February 21. In this occasion the Welcoming Evening includes the exclusive concert at the Gran Teatro de La Habana with the participation of the Maestro Leo Brouwer, recently awarded with a Latin Grammy, and his guests.

Also, the nominees for the “Habanos Prize” will be announced, offering finally a welcoming cocktail party dedicated to the Partagás brand.

The closing of the Festival will take place on Friday evening, February 25, with the Gala Dinner dedicated to Montecristo and the Traditional Humidor Auction for the benefit of the Cuban Public Health System.

Official Program -

Monday 21/02

09.00 hrs.
Registration (Palacio de Convenciones)

9:30 -10:30 hrs.
Press conference. Handing out of the press dossier on the XIIIth Festival. (Hall 3) (Palacio de Convenciones)

10.30-17.00 hrs.
Preliminary International Habanosommelier Contest. (Hall 5)

14:00 hrs.
Trade Fair opening

14.30 hrs.
Preliminary Habanos/Cuban Rums alliance (Hall 6)

19:00 hrs.
Welcoming evening at “Gran Teatro de la Habana”.
Concert: “Leo Brouwer. Essential” with music composed and conducted by the famous Cuban composer and musician Leo Brouwer, winner of a 2010 Latin Grammy.

20:30 hrs.
Welcoming cocktail party dedicated to the Partagás brand at “The Sala Carpentier”.


Tuesday 22/02

07.00 hrs.
Visit to plantations

10.00 hrs.
Preliminary blind tasting of Habanos with the participation of factory tasters, sommeliers and aficionados (Hall 6)


Wednesday 23/02

10.00-10.15 hrs.
Opening of the International Seminar (Hall 4)

10.15-11.15 hrs.
Master Lecture: “Origin and Evolution of Aluminium Tubes for Habanos”. Simon Chase (Hall 4)

11.15-11.45 hrs.
Coffee Break

11.45-13.15 hrs.
Master class on the technique of rolling a Habano. Making a Belicoso. (Hall 3)

13.15-14.45 hrs.
Lunch at “El Bucán” restaurant.

15.00-16.30 hrs.
Flavors and Aromas:

Marriages of Habanos with coffee, brandy, wines, and other products. ( Halls 3,5,6,7).

19.30
H. Upmann Evening: "El Laguito"


Thursday 24/02

09.00-12.00 hrs.
Visit to Habanos factories Patagás and H.Upmann.

12.30-14.00 hrs.
Lunch at “El Bucán” restaurant

14.00-15:30 hrs.
Final Blind tasting of Habanos.(Hall 4)

15:30-17:00 hrs.
Final Habanos/Cuban rums alliance (Hall 3)


Friday 25/02

9:30-11:00 hrs.
Final International Habanosommelier Contest (Hall 3)

11:00-11:30 hrs.
Coffee break

11:30-12:30 hrs.
Cuban cacao: perfect combination for after-dinner chat. Cuban chocolates and /Habanos marriage. (Hall 4)

12:30- 13.00 hrs.
Closing of the Seminar and Trade Fair (Hall 4)

Awarding ceremony:
- Best stand of each category
- Winner of the International Habanosommelier Contest.

13:00 hrs.
Lunch at “El Bucán” restaurant

19:00 hrs.
Montecristo Gala Evening: PABEXPO. Hall C

You can see:
Habanos S.A.
XIII Habano Festival

Happy New Year

By TopCubans.com on December, 29th 2010 - 3:41 pm

Here's a toast to the future, A toast to the past, And a toast to our friends, far and near. May the future be pleasant; The past a bright dream; May our friends remain faithful and dear.

Cheers to you,
Cheers to us,
Have a Happy New Year’s Eve!

David and Richard
www.TopCubans.com

Beaujolais Nouveau and Cuban cigars

By Richard on November, 18th 2010 - 4:22 pm

The release of the Beaujolais Nouveau has become a traditional event celebrated every year on TopCubans.com. Not only are we all very keen wine drinkers, but we are, more importantly, annual judges at our local Beaujolais Nouveau event. A heavy responsibility, which we take extremely seriously.

Beaujolais Nouveau is a young red wine made from handpicked Gamay grapes grown in the Beaujolais region of France, where the beverage accounts for half of the region's production. While most red wines improve with age, Beaujolais Nouveau is all about freshness. Many producers, including regional giant Georges Duboeuf, race to deliver the first of the vintage to celebrations throughout France and and now the world.

Under French law, the wine may be released at 12:01 a.m. on the third Thursday of November, just weeks after the wine's grapes have been harvested. Fermentation is so short that the resulting wine exhibits fruity flavors and light tannins. Beaujolais Nouveau should be consumed right away (or within six months of being made) and is best served slightly cooled. Nearly half of the wine's 70-million-bottle production is now exported abroad, mainly to Japan, Germany and the United States (where it is popularly enjoyed with Thanksgiving dinner).

So join us on Thursday night and crack open a bottle of pure pleasure whilst enjoying a smooth and tasty Cuban!

Enjoy,
Richard and David
2010 Official Judges of the Eaux-Vives Beaujolais Nouveau Competition

You can see:
Official Beaujolais Nouveau Site

David at the Big Smoke, Las Vegas

By David on November, 12th 2010 - 9:35 am

Hi folks. Hope you're all doing really well. Just to say that I have been away for the last week or so, traveling around. First off I popped into Washington DC where I was meeting with old friends from my student days. Northface fleeces seem to be all the rage in DC? Just an observation! A lovely old school tobacco shop is over there in Georgetown, really worth a visit if you are in the neighbourhood.

I then flew over to San Francisco and the Bay area for just a couple of days before hopping over to Vegas which is where I write to you now.

Folks, in case some of you perhaps were not aware, it is the annual Big Smoke, hosted by our friends Cigar Aficionado this weekend. So if any of you fancy meeting up for a smoke, a drink and a wee bit of a gamble then do let me know. It would be wonderful to meet some of our Top friends. So if you are about, I am staying in the Venetian Hotel until Monday and can be reached on david@topcubans.com. If I don't get hold of you, I will be wondering around and there is a good chance I will simply bump into you at the convention. Happy smoking and long love the Cuban stogies!

David

You can see:
Big Smoke official web site

Fall into Autumn with some Great Smokes!

By David on September, 28th 2010 - 11:27 am

Hi Everyone! I hope the cooler days and the shortening days aren't making you too depressed. Back to work next holiday may seem a way off but I am here to perk you up and get you into what is the best time of year for smoking Cubans. We have recently updated the Deals Page as well as our changing Seasonal Page. Some really woody, outdoorsy flavours in amongst these cigars - If you are looking for a recommendation I would plum for the Upmann Connaissuer No. 1. Perfect for all levels of smoker, it has a very manageable 45 minute timeline and has some really intriguing floral and fresh flavours to go perfectly with that stroll through the woods before the leaves all fall. Going for cigar with more Umpf, then the Bolivar Petit Corona is a smoke at the top of its game. a good size again but it is a Bolivar attainable for all levels. Enjoy the balance. For an evening cigar, you have to go for the legend that is the Lusitania.

It is very much coat-wearing weather here in Geneva now. It was only a week or so ago that I was wearing shorts and swimming in the lake! Oh how it changes too quickly here! This limbo period between the beautiful Summer and the Ski season is very much a time for Richard and I to get tasting some tasty cigars and passing our thoughts onto you. I hope you enjoy our selections and happy smoking!

One last point - Check out the recent edition of Cigar Aficionado. Cubans once again did exceptionally well in the tastings ratings. They will be on Richard's Smokes Page shortly.

Swiss Regional Production 2010

By Richard on August, 31st 2010 - 9:40 am

Produced in 2,400 individually numbered boxes of 25, the new El Rey del Mundo Elegantes is one (more to come) of the vitolas that Habanos has created especially for the Swiss Regional Production series for 2010. Rolled with leaves from the Vuelta Abajo region, the Elegantes are already showing a creaminess in the smoke and although young, the green aspects are starting to give way to silky fruity flavour. Like all Regionals, this is a cigar that will need time to show off its bouquet to the fullest. We think it is a good smoke now, but will become a great smoke in 5/7 years time.

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Behike Fever!

By Richard on August, 10th 2010 - 5:08 pm

The highly anticipated Behike cigars are with us - as many of you saw over this last weekend - and wasn't the response fantastic. We sold out of the Behike 56 in 1 day and as I write this we have a very small amount of the 54 and the 52 sized Behikes left. I expect overnight will be the final nail in the coffin for the last remaining boxes. What is all the fuss about I ear you ask?? Well to start with these cigars are not made in vast quantities like regular production Montecristos or Cohibas. Very few people around the world will have the opportunity to smoke these so those of you who truly enjoy the smoking experience I urge you to try one of these. Did I mention that the rich flavour is just about the best I've ever tasted?!

For those of you who do not want to commit to a full box of 10 - we may be able to make up some sample boxes of these depending on whether the remaining boxes fly off the shelves. And for those of you who missed out this time - we will definitely be getting some more of these in the next few months - as always we endeavour to deliver with what our clients demand and the positive reactions to the Behikes are amongst our best ever. You lucky ones who have the pleasure of smoking one of these soon - first shipments left on Monday - then sit back and enjoy the smooth creaminess that these cigars have to offer. A true delight!

You can see:
Cigar Aficionado's James Suckling's View

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David's Presigious Page and updating new pages - feed back?

By David on July, 15th 2010 - 6:00 pm

It's been a while since our last entry - we have been busy developing some new ideas for the site . One of the additions which we think will help enhance your shopping experience is my new page - **David's Prestigious Product** which we will be focused on some of the more exclusive products that Habanos produces coming out of Cuba. This will include limited edition cigars, specially packaged products - all kinds of things.
Also congrats to those of you who tried our World Cup Game on the Homepage which was running for a good chunk of the World Cup. If you managed to score 8 out of 10 you netted yourself 3 Cohiba Siglo I tubos cigars which isn't bad. Bummer for those of you who missed out - but keep an eye out for more fun additions to the site.
I hope you are all having a great Summer. Here in Geneva it's a scorcher so we are all down on the lake for lunch. It's simply heaven and I hope you are all taking it easy in this heat.
Would be great if you guys feel like giving us some feedback regarding potential ideas for games or additional info you would like us to put on the site - I know some of the pages are a little outdated so we want to inject some new life into them. Would appreciate anything you want to tell us! Happy smoking and enjoy the Limited Edition Partagas Jar everyone! My first product on my Prestigious Page!

David

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World Cup 2010

By Richard on June, 10th 2010 - 10:17 am

Well, after four years of waiting, the big event is just around the corner. The FIFA World Cup in South Africa will kick off on Friday 11th June. One month, 32 nations represented, 736 of the best footballers in the world, 64 games all culminating with the final on the 11th July in Johannesburg. This global event will dominate events this summer with expected television audiences to be around 27 billion, across 214 countries and territories. Join TopCubans.com over the next month as we live the trials and tribulations of the beautiful game's biggest stage.

You can see:
FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010

Father's Day Offers on TopCubas.com

By Richard on June, 04th 2010 - 11:02 am

Father's Day on TopCubans.com can only mean one thing. Loads of Deals and Offers -

Father's Day Deals - Big discounts on your favorite cigars
Father's Day Combos - More cigar for less cash
Father's Day Samplers - Mixed packs to share
Father's Day Suggestions - what are we smoking for Father's Day?

Offers run through 20th June, so make the most of these special treats!

Enjoy,
Richard

UK Election results

By Richard on May, 07th 2010 - 4:01 pm

After more than 640 election results are declared, it emerges Britain has its first hung parliament since 1974. The Conservatives are the largest party, but will fall short of the 326 seats needed to form a majority government. Labour loses more than 80 seats, and the Liberal Democrats fail to make gains. Tory leader David Cameron says he hopes to begin talks with the Liberal Democrats as quickly as possible, but Gordon Brown says he too would be willing to speak to any of the other party leaders. Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is among those to lose their seat. The Electoral Commission is to investigate after hundreds of people across the country are prevented from voting. Voter turnout was 65.2% - up from 61.4% in 2005.

THE LEADERS

Gordon Brown holds Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath with a majority of 23,000 - up almost 5,000 on 2005. Returning to Downing Street, he says he is willing to hold discussions on the future shape of government with any party leader, with economic stability the top priority.

David Cameron comfortably holds Witney, winning 58.8% of the vote on a 6.3% swing from the Lib Dems. He says it is clear that Labour has lost its mandate to govern, and plans to begin talks with the Liberal Democrats about forming a strong, and stable government, but does not rule out a minority Tory administration.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg increases his majority in Sheffield Hallam, but admits it has been a "disappointing night" for his party. He said the Conservatives have earned the right to try to form a government.


PUBLIC ANGER OVER VOTING PROBLEMS

The Electoral Commission announces a "thorough review" after hundreds of voters were turned away from polling stations and police called to deal with queues as the 2200 voting deadline passed. In Hackney, east London disgruntled voters stage a protest sit-in. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg apologises to people at a polling station in his Sheffield Hallam constituency, who did not get a chance to vote.

(www.bbc.com)

Alejandro Robaina passes away

By Richard on April, 19th 2010 - 4:11 pm

Alejandro Robaina, the famous face of the Vegas Robaina cigar brand and major figure of the Cuban cigar industry died last weekend (Sat 17th April) at the ripe old age of 91. His family have been tobacco farmers in Cuba sine 1845. Alejandro Robaina was honored by Habanos S.A. with a brand named after him. Launched in 1997,the Vegas Robaina brand was developed to rekindle the 'Old Havana' style of cigars. Strong and harsh, with hints of intense sweetness. The Man will be missed as he was one of the few faces one could associated to the Cuban Cigar Industry. Many thanks for all the great smokes!

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InterTabak wins Habanos Business of the Year

By Richard on March, 03rd 2010 - 10:34 am

We wish to congratulate Mr. Tanner, Director of INTERTABAK Ag, winner in the Business category of 'Habanos Man of the Year' awards. The award was presented at the Gala evening of this year's Festival del Habano, Havana, Cuba 26th Feb. Other awards handed out that night - the Production category 'Best Habano Cigar of the Year' went to Cuban Raul Valladares, representing TARACUBA, for Communication, to Spanish Jose Ribagorda of ALTADIS.

Another reason to only purchase from official Habanos Retailers physically located in Switzerland. Remember, all these phony sites claiming to be located in Geneva's Free Zone are not supplied by InterTabak, so who knows what you will be smoking!

You can see:
InterTabak Ag - Official Habanos S.A. Importer for Switzerland
Habanos S.A. - Latest news from the Festival

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XII Habanos Festival Program 22nd-26th Feb

By David on February, 16th 2010 - 6:03 pm

Monday 22/02:

Preliminary Habanosommelier (Room 5, by invitation).
Inauguration of the Fair-related Exhibition.
Preliminary: Alliance Habanos/Tequila
Welcome Evening. Gran Teatro de La Habana.
Presentation of launches 2010.
Exclusive concert of Maestro Chucho Valdés and guest musicians.
Welcome Cocktail: Carpentier Room of the Gran Teatro de La Habana.


Tuesday 23/02:

Visit to Vuelta Abajo plantations, Pinar del Río.


Wednesday 24/02:

Inauguration of the International Seminar. Main commercial results of Habanos, s.a. in 2009. Novelties 2010. Mr. Manuel García Morejón, Commercial Vice-president Habanos, s.a.
Master conference: “How to date Habanos boxes?”, by Mr. Simon Chase.
Master class on the technique of rolling a Habano totally by hand. ”How to make a Laguito No. 2”? Conducted by Mr. Arnaldo Ovalles, Director of El Laguito factory.
Lunch at “El Bucán” restaurant.
“Flavors and aromas”: Combinations of Habanos with coffee, Armagnac, Brandy, Cuban rums and other products (Rooms 5, 6 and 7)
Evening: “Women in Habanos”. Presentation of a new size specially dedicated to women. Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts).


Thursday 25/02:

Visit to Habanos factories La Corona and El Laguito
Lunch at “El Bucán” restaurant.
Panel Habanos-Vintage, conducted by Mr. James Suckling (Room 4).
Final Habanos/Tequila Alliance. Conducted by Mr. Adargelio Garrido of Habanos, s.a. and Mr. Ramón González of the Tequila Regulatory Council.
Private screening of “Cosi” with the presence of the Director Christopher Menaul, the producer Stephen Evans and the actresses Sarah Brightman and Mia Maestro.


Friday 26/02:

Final of the Habanosommelier Contest.

You can see:
James Suckling's diary

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Shipping cigars

By Richard on January, 27th 2010 - 4:17 pm

Following a busy Christmas and New Year, we saw that there were delays with deliveries times during these high volume, holiday periods. Although this is beyond our control and to be expected at this time of the year, we would like to thank you all for your patience, good nature and understanding. Apart from a few members, who seemed under the impression that TopCubans.com could some how influence the workings of Postal systems round the world, your realism and and serenity was a breath of fresh air in this age of 'blame someone else'. This attitude has re-energized our belief in the TopCubans.com Club and its memebers round the world. We look forward to a special year and hope you will join us on this ride. Enjoy and good smoking!

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Christmas has arrived on TopCubans.com

By Richard on December, 01st 2009 - 2:16 pm

It's the Holiday Season once again and on TopCubans have pulled out all the stops this year to make it the best one yet!

Christmas Promtional Code - get a free packs of three Partagas Series D No.4 Tubos by simply enterig a code. Easy!

Christmas Deals - loads of your favorite Cubans at cut prices

Richard's Smokes - my suggestions for great Holiday smokes

Christmas Calendar - a new cigar on deal, everyday, for one day only throughout the Holiday Season.

Secret Santa - new this year, see how far you $'s can go, with the best value packs of Cuban cigars available on the web!

Christmas Combo Offers - get more Cuban cigars for less money.

Christmas Samplers - mixed boxes of Cuban cigars, perfect for Christmas Gifts or Holiday Season smoking. Look out for the new Edicion Limitada's 2009.

We wish you all an wonderful shop and hope these offers will make this Christmas, the most smokin' one to date!

Power vs Strength

By Richard on October, 03rd 2009 - 3:59 pm

Naturally, any strength definition of a cigar will be subjective and depends entirely on the smoker’s personal impressions. The terms used and accepted general guideline definitions are there to assist the smoker with his choices. Strength is a measure of the nicotine content of a cigar. A very strong cigar will deliver a forceful amount of nicotine giving a heavy impression in the smoke. Examples of this type of cigar would be the Bolivar Belicosos Finos or the Partagas Lusitanias. Most smokers, even the experienced ones, will get a nicotine ‘rush’ from smoking this type of cigar. The effect of the strength on the smoker will vary depending on a number of environmental factors; regularity of smoking, physical size of the smoker, smoking on an empty stomach or not, etc.. These very strong cigars can produce either very pleasant feelings or very unpleasant ones, like feeling dizzy or nausea. Aside from its heady kick in the smoke, nicotine can frequently be noted as a peppery or warming tingle on the lips and tongue and this even before the cigar is lit. To enhance your smoking experience, try tasting your cigar right before you light it up. Simply let your lips and tongue moisten the freshly clipped foot of your cigar. It's a quick way to judge the strength of the smoke to come. It's also worth noting that young or "green" cigars (less than 3 months old) are at their peak nicotine concentrations (or strength) and will smoke in an almost harsh manner.

US, soon to be smoking Cubans?

By Richard on July, 03rd 2009 - 10:36 am

June 17 (Bloomberg) -- Cohibas, Partagas and Montecristos from Cuba. For U.S. cigar aficionados, the names spark thoughts of civil disobedience.

As President Barack Obama moves to ease restrictions on trade with Cuba, cigar lovers are savoring the prospect of legally lighting up a smoke that has long required a black- market connection and a willingness to flout the law.

“There’s a mystique about a Cuban,” said John Anderson, owner of W. Curtis Draper Tobacconist Inc., a cigar shop in Washington. “Cuban tobacco has become the forbidden fruit.”

The possible end to the 47-year-old embargo on Cuba trade has intensified a legal and lobbying fight between cigar makers Swedish Match AB of Stockholm and Imperial Tobacco Group Plc of Bristol, England. Each wants exclusive rights to sell Cuban-made brands in the U.S., the world’s largest market for premium cigars.

Swedish Match sells cigars in the U.S. made in Honduras and the Dominican Republic under Cuban brand names. It bought the brands from families that fled Cuba after Fidel Castro seized their cigar companies in the 1960s. Imperial distributes Cuban- made cigars under many of the same names to the rest of the world through an agreement with the Cuban government monopoly, Cubatabaco.

“Before serious commerce resumes, this is going to have to be resolved,” said Robert Muse, a Washington lawyer who advises clients on Cuba-related issues.

Cuban-American Travel

Opening the U.S. market to Cuban cigars may jeopardize jobs of the 147 workers at the U.S. headquarters of Swedish Match’s General Cigar subsidiary in Richmond, Virginia, according to Gerry Roerty, the unit’s general counsel.

“The market is going to be turned upside down,” Roerty said in an interview. After waiting for almost five decades, Americans “will buy a Donald Duck cigar if it’s a Cuban.”

Obama lifted prohibitions on Cuban-Americans traveling to the island in April and eased restrictions on shipping clothing, seeds and other gifts to Cuban residents.

Before the U.S. takes further steps, Obama says Cuba needs to free political prisoners and allow freedom of speech and religion. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat, predicted on May 5 that all travel and trade prohibitions, imposed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, will be lifted by the end of next year.

Cuban cigars, hand-rolled from the tobacco of the Vuelta Abajo growing region, hold a cachet in popular culture that dates back to the island’s days as a playground for gamblers, novelists and mobsters. The day before Kennedy imposed the embargo, he dispatched Press Secretary Pierre Salinger to buy 1,000 Cuban-made Petit Upmanns, according to an account Salinger wrote in 2002.

‘More Than Smoke’

“A Cuban embodies so much more than smoke,” said James Suckling, who has written articles on Cuba for Cigar Aficionado magazine. He estimates Americans consume about 20 million Cuban cigars a year, enjoying them while traveling to Mexico or the Caribbean or stowing them in luggage on the way home.

The forbidden fruit carries a premium: A box of 25 Cohiba Robustos costs $304 on the Hong Kong-based Cigars of Habanos Web site, where shoppers are offered the option of shipping to the U.S. without regard to the government’s ban. A Dominican-made version sold online by Holt’s Cigar Co. of Philadelphia sells for $175.

Because of the low acidity in the soil and a temperate climate, Cuban cigars have an earthy aroma and a “full taste” that make the best of them the finest cigars in the world, said Benjamin Menendez, a Cuban who fled the country in 1960 after Castro confiscated his family’s cigar company, Menendez y Garcia.

Meet the Standards

Not all Cuban cigars meet those standards, he said.

“People are told they have a Cuban and they immediately assume they are good,” said Menendez, who has blended tobacco around the world and at age 73 hosts 150 cigar tastings a year for General Cigar. Once Americans can buy Cuban cigars at their local tobacco shop, “a lot of people are going to be disappointed.”

Swedish Match and Imperial Tobacco both sell Dominican-made cigars in the U.S. and together account for almost half of the sales in a U.S. market for premium cigars that the Swedish company estimates at $850 million annually.

After cigar-makers fled Cuba, Cubatabaco began exporting cigars under brands such as the Menendez family’s Montecristo and H. Upmann, and developed new brands such as Cohibas.

Because of the embargo and U.S. court decisions, Cubatabaco couldn’t keep the trademarks in the U.S., and General Cigar bought brands from the refugees. Through an acquisition, Imperial owns a subsidiary that took the same tack, buying brands such as Montecristo from exiled families.

Lost Cohibas

That created the divided cigar market, in which one company owns a brand such as Partagas in the U.S. and another does so around the world.

Cuba lost the U.S. rights to Cohibas when General Cigar registered the brand in the 1970s. General Cigar has so far fended off a 1997 lawsuit brought by Cubatabaco to reclaim that name. A new ruling in the case may come within months.

General Cigar has spent more than $5 million lobbying Congress over the past eight years. It got lawmakers to strike a provision in a 2001 measure that it says would have allowed Cuba to barter cigars for food or medicine. Imperial began lobbying this year for the first time since at least 2000, spending an initial $30,000, according to Senate records.

General Cigar also hired Miller & Chevalier, a Washington law firm specializing in trade issues, to study how else it might slow the flow of Cuban imports if the embargo goes.

A ‘Political’ Matter

The embargo “is a political” matter, not a corporate issue, Imperial spokesman Simon Evans said in a phone interview from the U.K. He declined to discuss Cuban trade any further.

The fate of the Cuban trade embargo is more than an idle topic for discussion among the lobbyists, lawyers and politicians who frequent Shelly’s Back Room in Washington. Regulars at the cigar parlor located between the White House and the Capitol share the dream of getting their hands on a legal Cuban cigar.

“Cuban cigars are legendary,” said owner Bob Materazzi. “Anybody who is a cigar geek is interested.”

Bloomberg.com, 17 June 2009.

Summer Smoking

By Richard on June, 18th 2009 - 10:50 am

My mind turns to flavour, flavour and more flavour during the Summer months. My Partagas, Bolivars and other full bodied cigars go to the back of my humidor for another six months resting and my El Rey del Mundo, Juan Lopez and Hoyo's come to the forefront. The warmer weather means my palate is looking less for richness and intensity and more for freshness and taste. My wine goes from Bordeaux to Bourgogne, my food goes from stews to grilled white meats and fish and my cigars follow the trend. If you are looking for something a bit different to go with your long afternoon aperitifs or to accompany you through a BBQ, why not try the Vegueros No.1 or 2. These cigars have a salty quality that truly works with white wines or beer. Get Tubos cigars, perfect for on the go smoking (without having to carry around a portable humidor). Finally, why not try the new Montecristo Open cigars, a line specially created for out door, warm weather smoking.

Spring is here, time for a clean!

By Richard on March, 21st 2009 - 10:55 am

Spring is here, which is the perfect excuse to clean out the humidor, clean up the cigars and re-charge with smokes that will fulfill your palate's Seasonal requirements. Why not treat your cigars to a wrapper clean. Gently brush your cigars with a soft clean paint brush. This will unclogg the pores of the wrapper leaf and allow your cigars to breath and thus continue to develop (ageing). Without this occasional clean, you cigars will become clogged, the aromas will close down and you may suffer draw problems as a result. Also, remember to keep an eye on your humidor settings as the climate changes. Higher temperatures may mean you need to change the position of your humidor to maintain the key atmosphere of 16-18°C (60-65°F) and 65-70% humidity. And finally, listen to your palate. As the temperature rises, give in to the urge for aromas. There is more to smoking Cubans than pure power and now is the time to experience it.

Great Smokes without blowing the wallet

By Richard on February, 19th 2009 - 1:28 pm

Given today's economy, personal pleasures have become that bit more important in order to escape the harsh reality of every day life. Curbing ones spending does not necessarily mean you have to give up on personal preference or quality. As we viewed Cigar Aficionados Top 25 cigars of the 2008 and their particular attention to price, we quickly realized that their was a false belief that Cubans are always expensive. Lets compare what is comparable. A Cohiba Esplendidos may cost $35 a stick, but then so does the Opus X Perfection #2, a comparably sized non-Cuban cigar (although I would argue not comparable in quality). When I started to compare what you could get in Cuban production for $4-6 a stick with what you get in non-Cuban production for the same price, I was very surprised by the difference in quality. I truly believe you can now smoke Cuban cigars of higher quality than non-Cubans for the same price. Better blend and better construction for the same price or less! So we have created the Bargain Market, where you will find all of the reasonable Cuban cigars in one click. Even in tight economic times, who can't justify spending $4-6 for a wonderful cigars?

Chocolate and Cigars

By Richard on February, 09th 2009 - 11:56 am

The journey into the leaf can be experienced from many different angles. The initial phase of this apprenticeship is usually very much focused on the exploration and discovery of 'the cigar'; size, strength, aroma, etc... Finding ones likes and dislikes is the first key step. Once you have found your palate's preferences, you can then move onto the maze of pairing your favorite cigars with different influences, be it food, drink or even environmental factors. This phase of continual new experiences is one that can go on throughout your smoking life, as your palate changes with time. My personal preference when it comes to 'cigars supports', is finding stark contrasts to my cigar type. For a sweet, light wood flavored cigar, I love a rich dark alcohol. For a powerful, woody, leathery cigar, try sampling a fruity ice cream or sorbet. My latest discovery and current pet habit, is pairing all my cigars with chocolates. And when it comes to chocolate, being in Switzerland we are more than catered for. I recently found a local 'Artisanal' Chocolate maker, who has specialized in developing chocolates for the cigar smoker. The House of Grauer Chocolates are hand made, ensuring a quality and individuality for each bite. The House of Grauer have understood what the cigar smokers needs to compliment his smoke. Contrasts such as Lime, Raspberry or Bee Pollen will new give life to your regular smokes. The House of Grauer have gone all out in finding rare and Grand-Cru cocoa's. Having sampled the full box with cigar smoking friends, I can assure you that this box of chocolates will change the way you smoke.

Cold weather, recalibrate the humidor

By Richard on January, 05th 2009 - 3:20 pm

Here in Switzerland we have entered the very cold season, meaning naturally I get very worried about the storing of my cigars. This is a difficult time to keep your humidor settings at 16-18°C (60-65°F) and 65-70% humidity, the ideal setting for your cigars to relax and continue the tobacco fermentation in a constant manner.
Remember, you cannot rush your Cuban hand rolled cigars, especially after shipping. Once shipped, your cigars will need a minimum 10 days to recover in your humidor at this time of year. Trying to smoke them before this time will only result in bad draw and no flavor. You will need to allow your cigars time in these correct conditions to ease, relax and reach a balanced humidity. Aging your cigars and caring for your humidor is an integral part of the cigar culture and it will permit you to truly understand your cigars and thus allow you to get the best out of your cigar. Excellent smokin' for 2009!

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Cigar Forums

By Richard on October, 27th 2008 - 1:04 pm

Recently, there has been much discussion surrounding some of the leading Cigar forums on-line and the fact that one person is buying them all up. I completely understand the frustration of the Members of these different forums, who having built up a community and a trust in that community over the years, now find themselves a small part of what has effectively become a big advertising space across the web. Gone is the passion for cigars, gone is the reliable information and gone is the point of these communities. Having browsed some of these forums recently, I see more and more advertisements from merchants who are not official Habanos S.A. retailers and who sell more than suspect products and yet, they are being put forward a recommended reliable vendors. It is more important to sell advertising space, even if it is to fraudsters, than encouraging the community atmosphere that was the foundations of many of these forums. It is truly a sad state of affairs when the supposed sources of credible information actually have a completely alternative agenda. I fear for the state of the Cuban cigar market world wide as more and more pushers of fake cigars dictate the information and market price of a product they do not even sell. Saddest of all, it is you the smokers who have been let down by these forums, it is you the smokers who are smoking more and more fake Cubans and it is you the smokers who are falling into the trap of believing the ridiculous prices advertised by these thieves. I cannot say it enough times, there are no amazing deals for a Cuban cigar. If you pay Fiat price, you will not receive a Ferrari. Members of these forums, stand up for your rights and demand justice!

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Long vs Short filler

By Richard on October, 01st 2008 - 12:05 pm

I often get asked questions about the difference between long and short filler Habanos and the difference in their construction. The simple way of looking at it is that long filler cigars are made with the whole leaf and the short filler cigars are made with the rests of these full leaves. The trimmings from bunches of long filler cigars are combined with other selected chopped tobaccos to create the blends for short filler Habanos. The Torcedor rolls the filler into whole binder leaves with the aid of a flexible mat fixed to his bench to form a firm bunch. The wrapper is applied by hand in the normal fashion. These short filler Habanos are also marked as 'Totalmento a Mano' - totally hand made. Naturally, the short filler cigars are considerable cheaper than long filler Habanos.
The other aspect that people find confusing, in the Machine made Habanos and how they fit into the long and short filler debate. Machines have been used in the making of some Habanos since the 1950's. They are capable of both long and short filler construction, but only in considerable small sizes. 'Mecanizado Habanos' (machine made) are less expansive to make and therefore are much cheaper than hand made Habanos.

End of Summer Smoking

By Richard on September, 23rd 2008 - 4:07 pm

With the Summer coming to a quick finish, the temperature and humidity conditions are changing. Your cigars will start to feel the difference and it is up to you to accommodate your cigars for the changing atmospheric conditions. During all Seasonal changes, keep a close eye on your hygrometer (your settings should be as closed to 16-18°C (60-65°F) and 65-70% humidity as possible). Changes will happen and you may need to find different storage areas to get the correct temperature conditions, as well as adding or removing moisture to/from your humidor. Remember, cigars can put up with gradual changes and will adapt. Avoid major changes in temperature and humidity, as this is what will shock your cigars beyond smokability!

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Richard Smokes Europe - Step 3 : England

By Richard on September, 19th 2008 - 5:16 pm

Although England was recently described as 'a nation of “overweight, sex-and-celebrity-obsessed TV addicts” (The Rough Guide to England - 2008), England, more importantly, does have an long colorful history and wide culture that hugely outweighs the loud present day 'trash Pop-Art' image that some have come to associate with England and London in particular. It may be the country that produced Neville Chamberlain, Mr. Bean, Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards and Spotted Dick (a sugary dessert), but it also gave us Shakespeare, Newton, Darwin, Churchill, John Lennon and Football. Once, the center of an Empire that ruled half the world, England has had to learn to adapt to merely being a part of Europe. When visiting England, you will notice a huge difference between the rich South (London being the center) and the more industrial North (this is slowly changing). Be it the music, food, art or language, the many different parts of England have an infinite amount of secrets to divulge. Like Paris in France, London puts forward a more global image of English culture, diluted and re-packaged for easy use. The intricate subtleties of this culture may be found in a more primal form outside of the major metro-pole. My weekend spent in England for this trip included a wonderful overnight stay in the lake district. This natural park is a must for any nature lover. The English county side is an institution in itself, with a specific culture and rules of etiquette to go with it. County Manors, antique fairs, country Pubs, Craft-works, tea and scones, hedges, ladies hats, etc... all make up the legend. Worth and afternoon trip for sure. Up North, I would suggest visiting Liverpool. Home of the Beatles and Liverpool F.C., Liverpool is the European Capital of Culture for 2008. Check out the transformation of the Liverpool waterfront area (UNESCO World Heritage Site), including the Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse, which at the time of its construction in 1901, was the world's largest building in terms of area, and is still the world's largest brick-work building. Also the ill-fated passenger liner RMS Titanic was registered in Liverpool. The delicate question of English food is always a stopper when visiting. To often, one comes away having suffered badly battered Fish and Chips, boiled tasteless vegetables and chips, English Fry up and chips and chips. I have only one thing to say to you, visit the Fat Duck (Heston Blumenthal's 3-Micheline star restaurant in Bray, named No.2 restaurant in the world) and think again! Remember to pop in and visit my friend Mr. Patel at Regal Cigars & Tobacco in Windsor, he has a fabulous cigar shop and is very knowledgeable on all aspects concerning tobacco.

You can see:
Official site of the Fat Duck
Visit Liverpool
Visit England

Damaged cigars - repairable?

By Richard on August, 28th 2008 - 11:55 am

I often get asked about damaged cigars and how damaged one must be before it effects the smoke of the cigar. You would be incredibly surprised at the resistance and construction of these Cuban hand rolled cigars. As the wrapper is purely for decorative purposes, the binder is the leaf that actually holds the cigar together, surface damage will not have any effect on the cigars' smoke. Cigars like the one shown above right, simply need a dab of odorless vegetable gum or glue to re-stick the loosened leaf. Remember, this is exactly how the cigar is constructed in the first place! Do not be afraid to get closer with your smokes. Touch them, clean them, move them in the humidor and take care of them when slight damage occurs. You will find odorless (remember your cigar is like a sponge, it will absorb any odors around it) vegetable gum or glues at most tobacconists or on-line.

You can see:
Credo - El Torcedor cigar glue

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Double banded tendencies

By Richard on August, 14th 2008 - 5:15 pm

It seems that our friends at Habanos S.A. have decided to embark on the double banding theme for cigars in the next few years. After the Special productions (EL's, Regional Productions, Casa Del Habanos productions, Anniversary productions), the RyJ Short Churchills, the Cohiba Maduro line, the new Hoyo Epicure Especiales and H.Upmann Magnum 50, it is now the existing regular production cigars that are going to start appearing double banded. The RyJ Churchill is now being produced with the golden Churchill band, as well as the standard red RyJ band found on the rest of the line. Look out for the H.Upmann Magnum 46 to also start appearing with a double band. I am expecting most of the cigars to go into double band, as Habanos look set on creating a band that depicts the family and a band that depicts the vitole. Good or just a waste of paper? Give us your thoughts.

You can see:
Habanos S.A.

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Olympic Smokes

By Richard on August, 09th 2008 - 4:16 pm

Once every four years and eagerly anticipated by the entire world population, the Olympic Games is one of the few truly global events. A place where amateur athletes rub shoulders the highest paid stars of the sports world, a spectacle that is seen by nearly 4 billion viewers worldwide, an opening ceremony attended by more than 100 heads of state and a program that provides entertainment for everyone, even those less sports inclined. For China, this is a spotlight on their country and culture. It is a nation that is advancing at a galloping pace. The Chinese have a history that dates back well over 5000 and a culture that has so much to offer other cultures, especially in this age of 'back to basics'. Like in most countries, the Cuban cigar is a prized possession in China and a clear symbol of social status. Hong Kong has long been home to some of the biggest private collectors of Cuban cigars in the world and Habanos S.A. acknowledge the importance of this market, with several Regional Releases on the Asian Market every year. Smoking has always been part of the Chinese culture, so a steep increase in sales of Cuban cigars in China will surely parallel the general growth of the country. So we invite you to soak up this atmosphere of sporting excellence and fraternity and stretch your palate to the limit with the TopCubans.com Olympic Smoking Seleccion.

You can see:
Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
Discover China

Summer Smokes

By Richard on July, 02nd 2008 - 10:26 am

The Seasons are changing and so is my palate. Bring on the warm weather, the white sand beaches, the grilled fishes and the fruity long drinks. All this can only mean one thing, its the TopCubans.com Summer Suggested Smokes!

Holiday Smokes

By Richard on June, 19th 2008 - 9:48 am

The holiday season is upon us. Whether you are off to a white sandy beach in Sardinia or planning a trek through the Himalayan base hills or Fly Fishing in Ireland, the choosing of the smokes that will accompany you on your break, is key. Bear in mind you probably will smoke during the day, so why not try cigars that are a bit lighter and more tasty. Take advantage of being in a new place to try new cigars. Enjoy long mid-afternoon cigars (Lonsdale, Churchill, Double Coronas), so you can really focus in on experiencing the multiple phases and evolution of your smoke. Most of all, away from the cyclical hum drum of everyday life, remember to relax and simply enjoy your cigars.

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Can Roger finally win Roland Garros?

By Richard on June, 03rd 2008 - 12:39 pm

Roland Garros started last week, with Roger Federer, our Swiss hero, aiming to finally win this tournament, the only Grand Slam he has not managed to bag. Whilst Nadal is showing his usual dominance, something tells me this could be the year. Look out for the final this weekend and why not treat your self to a smooth creamy relaxing smoke like the Trinidad Robustos Extra!

2008 Habanos S.A. Edicion Limitada cigar announced

By Richard on May, 22nd 2008 - 12:08 pm

The new Edicion Limitada's have been announce and follow in the trend of big ring gauge sizes. Montecristo Sublimes, Cuaba Pirámides and Partagás Serie D No 5 are the brands and sizes selected for this year’s Limited Editions which will be released toward the end of the year.

Cuaba Pirámides (ring gauge 52 x 156 mm in the length). In keeping with the rest of the tapered sizes of the brand, Cuaba is having a Limited Edition for the first time, and it´s releasing the pyramids which are packed in Semi Plain boxes with 25 sticks in two layers.

Montecristo Sublimes (ring gauge 54 x 164 mm in the length) This size was first presented as part of the 2004 Limited Edition in the Cohiba brand. Now, Montecristo brings it back with its characteristic blend. A Habano to remember, respectfully long, with a proper draw and ready to show forth the notably medium to full flavour of said brand. Cigars will be packaged in SBN boxes comprising 25 units.

Partagás Serie D No 5 (ring gauge 50 x 110 mm in the length) All the flavour of Partagás locked in this small yet powerful smoke allowing us to feel the Partagás taste. The Series Lines from Partagás have become a guide due to the recognition of Serie D No 4 and the most recent pyramid: the Serie P No 2. Presented in SBN boxes with 25 cigars placed in two layers.

Look out on the newsletter for arrival of these cigars, as they will sell out very quickly.

Cigar Magazines

By Richard on May, 02nd 2008 - 3:47 pm

Here at TopCubans.com, we are firm believers in growing and developing through experience. The journey of discovery and understanding exactly what smoke suits your palate when and with what combination of food, drink and environment is a long and challenging one. Your apprenticeship naturally starts close to home, with number one. This personal trial phase is a must, but can be narrow as you are bound by your own limited experience. Next, you will meet people, be it in your cigar club or in your regular smoking areas, who will push you into the direction of 'good things'. This sharing of experiences will open new doors and will be a major step in educating your palate to the diversity of aromas and body. From here, the normal next step will be to look to the leaders of the profession or recognized experts to give you that special experience. This is where the world of the written word can be a shoulder to lean on. Leading cigar magazines like Cigar Aficionado, Smoke Magazine, European Cigar Cult Journal, L'Amateur de Cigare, Club Cigares, Pipes and Tobaccos or Tobacco Asia are an excellent way to get immediate expert feedback on smokes that interest you, as well as discovering new 'out of the ordinary' treats. Open yourself to as much exposure as you can, as this wealth of experience will only assist you in your personal journey.

You can see:
Cigar Aficionado
Smoke Magazine
European Cigar Cult Journal
Cigar Snob
Club Cigares
L'Amateur de Cigare

Coffee break bliss

By Richard on April, 16th 2008 - 10:52 am

I can think of few things more relaxing in life, than kicking back, brewing up a hot Arabica espresso, breaking open a plaque of pure dark Maracaibo Grand Cru chocolate and lighting myself up a rich powerful Cuban Cuaba Divinos. All work so well by themselves, but when you fuse these different aromas and textures, that is when you truly drift off into palate paradise. The sour sweetness of a dark chocolate brings out all the hidden fruity aromas of a Cuban cigar and in turn this injects life into your coffee. Whether taking the time at home to slowly sample the bean - leaf marriage or taking 5 at the office, turn your coffee break into a truly gastronomic experience. Nothing need be boring in life.

Humidor Settings

By Richard on April, 02nd 2008 - 11:57 am

Remember, try and keep your humidor settings at 16-18°C (60-65°F)(never store your humidor in direct sunlight) and 65-70% humidity. This is the ideal setting for your cigars to relax and continue the tobacco fermentation in a constant manner. The humidifier in your humidor should be topped up either with humidification solution or distilled water. Air circulation is key to the well being of your smokes. Give them space, like you and me, they need to breath. Clean your cigars every six months, in this way you will keep the pores of your cigars clear, thus allowing the cigars to breath without blockages. Like our skin, the pores need to be unblocked.
You cannot rush a Cuban hand rolled cigar. If it is tight or dry, you will need to allow it time in these correct conditions to ease, relax and reach a balanced humidity. Aging your cigars and caring for your humidor is an integral part of the cigar culture and it will permit you to truly understand your cigars and thus allow you to get the best out of your cigar.

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Hey there!

By Richard on January, 16th 2008 - 1:59 pm

Hey there!
This time of the year I like to go skiing, here in Switzerland we have a generous helping of mountains. I have my little ritual for skiing and I take a mixture of Robustos with me because it is the ideal Vitola for action and adventure. Trinidad Robustos extra go nicely with the crisp mountain air but you guys should try out a variety of Robustos to make your own band of out door companions, its worth it!

I love a full humidor! Packing out your humidor is like having a full library of books at home. A full and diverse humidor is in some respects stored knowledge, and knowledge makes your mind grow and your palate evolve. A tip I like to give to people who ask me how to stock their humidor is to experience as many different Cubans as you can, don't rest on your laurels, be daring and never be stuck by reviews or ratings, be your own taster. When you see your humidor it should be as diverse as you life experiences. Good luck and enjoy!

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Can one rate a cigar?

By Richard on November, 28th 2007 - 5:21 pm

People are always asking me why I don't have rating system on TopCubans.com for the cigars. I find it hard to put a cigar in an abstract rating system - numbered one to ten or, o to 100. This may sound extremely corny, but I respond to a cigar more on an emotional level as well as a technical level. I have smoked some cigars which are rated highly by other well known magazines or sites and had no pleasure at all whereas other cigars that have been slated in a ratings system have been more than memorable smokes. Use other people's ratings as a subjective guide. The best way of rating a cigar is by smoking it yourself and making your own mind up, don't be a sheep!

You can see:
Cigar Aficionado
Cigars Reviews

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Old Havana vs New Cuba

By Richard on November, 01st 2007 - 4:30 pm

Habanos S.A. has certainly changed it's outlook on tobacco blending since the old days. The power and strength that was once the sole trademark of Cuban cigars has evolved into an exploration of more aromatic and flavorful blends that marry the body of the Ligero leaves with the more aromatic favors that ooze from the Seco and Valado leaves. But luckily for us cigar smokers, we now have access to both of theses very different styled cigars. Look for the Partagas Presidentes, Bolivar Inmensas, Bolivar Gold Medal or Saint Luis Rey Double Corona Cab 50 for the 'Old School' power Havana smokes or try the newer flavor based smokes like San Cristobal or Vegas Robaina. Tell us what your preferences are and in which direction you think Habanos S.A. should be going with their development of new cigars. Power vs Taste.

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Robusto, the Modern smoke

By Richard on October, 16th 2007 - 4:39 pm

Short, direct and to the point, the Robusto is the ideal modern cigar. 30-40 mins of intense pleasure, perfect for after dinner or at an aperitif, these cigars come in a full range of power and aromas depending on the family you choose. Big ring gauge means you have a complex smoke in a smaller cigar and the shorter length allows you to dive directly into a second phase type of smoke. Looks for full body-ness in Partagas, Bolivar and Cohiba, spice and edginess in the Ramon and Vegas and more subtle sweet aromas in Hoyo and El Rey del Mundo's. Tell us what you think...

You can see:
Robustos Reviews - Cigars-review.com
Rating Cuban Robustos - Humatic Journal

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cutting your cigars

By Richard on October, 08th 2007 - 9:58 am

A good cut is key to a good smoke. Like so many aspects of smoking Cuban cigars, the type of cut you choose has to suit your smoke. The choice of a punch trigger, guillotine or v-cut, will depend on the cigars you are smoking and the type of draw you prefer. My recommendation is always use a guillotine (or double) for Figurado cigars. This gives for an undisturbed smoke and will amplify the conic concentration of the pointed cigars. I prefer a punch cut to a v-cut for my non-pointed cigars, but this is a personal choice. Either way, remember to cut just above the cap or your cigar will unwrap and enough or your cigar will have a tight draw. Enjoy your smoke.

You can see:
Cutting a cigar - About.com

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does color matter

By Richard on September, 25th 2007 - 1:35 pm

Apart from the aesthetic of personal preference and a slightly more tingly effect on the lips from a darker wrapper, the color of a Cuban cigars does not have a major effect on the overall experience of your smoke. Apart form the Edicion Limitada series, and now the new Cohiba Maduro line, the wrapper color of Cuban cigars comes in a variety of shade (Claro to Oscuro) and depends on the quantity of stock, weather variants at the time of production, when the cigar are rolled in the year and which part of the island the cigar was rolled in. The wrapper accounts for about 3% of the overall taste of a cigar, so color variations has no real effect on the taste of your cigar. If you do have a preference, please be sure to mention this when you submit an order and we will always do our best to find you the closest wrapper color possible.

Relighting a cigar

By Richard on September, 13th 2007 - 11:16 am

How long can one leave a cigar in it's dormant state and relight it, to still find a flavorful smoke. Obviously, this varies from smoker to smoker. I know a man who sleeps with a cigar and immediately lights it up again when he awakes. I always think that a cigar that has been out for over three hours, starts to take on the burnt flavors in the remaining tobacco. Letting a cigar rest for a n hour, even two, is completely acceptable. Simply remember to tap off the excess ash prior to relighting. Enjoy.

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What makes Limitadas special?

By Richard on August, 12th 2007 - 4:38 pm

I think what makes a difference between EL's and regular smokes is firstly the EL's are produced only for one year, that means they are one of a kind.
Secondly they are produced in small quantities, adding to their exclusivity. All limitadas have maduro wrappers which is
unlikely to happen in regular production. El's tend to come in new and old re-produced sizes not commonly found in regular production. Like a fine wine or cheese, age is very important for taste and aromas, EL's aged blends release matured and often exceptional flavours. Finally, the novelty of owning a Edicion Limitada is akin to that of owning a small and finite piece of history for yourself. Priceless!

New Cohiba Maduro 5

By Richard on July, 15th 2007 - 12:00 am

They are finally here! Its like Christmas come true for the aficionados of the world!
The Cohiba Maduro trio, dressed in their dark and rich wrappers that have been aged for five years and are real beauties! The Genios is the big brother, stocky and rich in flavour. The Magicos is the middle brother, a mine of diversity of aromas. Last but by no means least is Secretos, the little guy of the family, fruity and playful to the nub. These guys are unique so grab them whilst you can!

Difference between Cabinet and Box pressed cigars?

By Richard on July, 12th 2007 - 4:56 pm

Many people ask me what is the difference between Cabinet and box pressed cigars?.

Its simple really. Space. Quality. And time!

In Cabinets there is more space than in a box, hence the deforming of the cigar into a square shape in the box. This change in the shape changes the cigars ventilation, thus altering the original smoke.To properly mature a cigar need a little room! Thus the quality of Cabinet cigars are higher than Box cigars. And time, well the time is now for you guys to taste the difference and that is way we have set up a Cabinet Samplers section. Check it out!

New to Cubans? Let me introduce you..

By Richard on May, 12th 2007 - 4:42 pm

We at Topcubans.com would like to welcome our influx of newest members.The Topcubans family is growing all around the world.

With so many great cigars out there its a good job we have each other to advise and lend a hand to when making our choice of cigar.
No question is a stupid question and giving your opinion on a cigar can help someone else form their opinion on any given smoke. Communication is a great thing and it goes two ways, we love it when a cigar is rated by you guys as well as us. So if you are a rookie checkout our new smoker section and make yourself at home!

CNN on Cuban cigars

By Richard on April, 17th 2007 - 4:46 pm

Please take the time to view CNN's 'Art of Life' videos on the Art of Rolling a Cuban Cigar. An excellent document that shows the grueling labor process involved from seed to box for producing a Habano and the huge gap between the luxury product that we enjoy when smoking and the reality of the factories in Cuba.

You can see:
CNN on Cuban cigars

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