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The Cuban Factories

The Cuban cigar factories have always carried a certain mystique, due to their history and their working methods. Factories are located in the Provinces, but the more famous ones are to be found in and around Havana. The heart of any factory for the hand made cigars is ' la galera' , literally the gallery or workshop. This is where hundreds of expert rollers construct, totally by hand, the cigars we smoke today. Age old traditions still continue, with the most notable being the reading of novels or the daily news to the rollers whilst they work. This acts as a continuing education and information. As all the factories are owned by Habanos S.A., most of them roll more than one brand. Each factory carries a code which will appear on the cigar box, indication the factory code, the month and year of production. The Cuban box codes enigma is possibly one of the most complicated control systems around, as the codes change regularly, in order to stop fraudsters producing fake cigars. Of the famous factories definitely worth visiting when in Cuba, the Partagas is the most tourist orientated. I would recommend visiting the newly renovated H.Upmann factory, but the most famous factory of all remains the world famous El Laguito factory. Easily recognizable by its red tiled roof, yellow exterior and sweeping marble stairway, Cuba's most exclusive cigar factory, is located in Havana's most exclusive suburb, Miramar, a posh neighborhood populated with embassies and protocol houses managed by the Cuban government that rival any Beverly Hills mansions. Before becoming a cigar factory in 1967, the mansion was the home of the former Marquez (Prince) of Pinar del Rio. In the factory more than 100 workers, mostly women, produce Cuba's most expensive and exclusive cigars, the Cohiba and Trinidad brands. Ask anyone in Cuba or elsewhere, connected with the Cuban cigar industry and they will tell you that El Laguito is a cigar factory unlike any other. The El Laguito factory is located a 25 minute ride from Havana Vieja (old Havana) where you will find the H. Upmann, Partagas, Romeo y Julieta and La Corona factories. Besides its more suburban location, El Laguito also has the distinction of being managed by a woman, the infamous Emilla Tamayo.

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