It is said that Havana smells of [tippy title="Habanos"]The official Denominación de Origen Protegida (D.O.P.), or Protected Denomination of Origin used only to describe the most outstanding brands of cigars, which are manufactured in Cuba to the most exacting standards established by the Regulatory Council, from tobaccos grown only in particular areas of the island that are also protected as Denominations of Origin. In English the word translates as Havanas, which are widely considered to be the best cigars in the world.[/tippy], and the fact is that the city hosts the most important Habanos festival in the world – and it is home to some of the most illustrious factories producing this product made [tippy title="Totalmente a mano"]Totally by hand. A description created in Havana to differentiate between Cuban methods of making cigars by hand from the semi-mechanised metods used elsewhere that can legally be described as "Hecho a Mano" or "Hand Made".[/tippy] con [tippy title="Tripa Larga"]Long filler. Filler that is made from full-length tobacco leaves.[/tippy]– Totally handmade with Long Filler.
It takes four of the five senses to choose an Habano (Protected Appellations of Origin (A.O.P.); or as the most knowledgeable claim, all five, because if you bring the cigar close to your ear, the Habano emits a unique sound as you roll it. The smell is surely the most outstanding feature – as pleasant before lighting it, as it is during the lighting and smoking. The selection of an Habano, the way in which it is cut, lit and smoked, are all decisions that depend solely and exclusively on the personal preferences of each person for their own enjoyment.
For Inocente Núñez, Co-President of [tippy title="Habanos S.A., Corporación"]The Havana-based company, jointly owned by the Cuban industry and the British Imperial Tobacco Group, which markets all 27 Habanos brands worldwide.[/tippy]there are two aspects that are important when choosing an Habano: “How much time I have available and the time of day I’m going to be enjoying it.” And once we know how much time we have available, which could be from twenty minutes to an hour and twenty minutes, it is important to select the [tippy title="Vitola"]A word with many meanings. In Cuba it refers to the size and shape of a cigar (vitola de galera factory name, vitola de salida market name) and also to a particular size of cigar in an individual packing. In Spain it means a cigar band or ring (vitolfilia cigar band collecting). To some it has an almost spiritual meaning encapsulating every aspect of their cigar of choice.[/tippy]. “This refers to the shape of the Habano, its length, and what we call the ring gauge, which is the diameter of the cigar,” says Núñez.
On this basis, Inocente Núñez gives his personal recommendation: “If I don’t have much time and it’s in the morning, I would prefer a Hoyo de Monterrey, from the Línea Le Hoyo de San Juan. But if, for example, it’s the weekend and I have time to savour it, I would choose a Cohiba Lanceros, which is in a stronger flavour Habano”.
Once you have chosen the Habano you can move on to the pleasurable enjoyment of the lighting ritual, which brings a feeling of great serenity and prepares you for the final enjoyment of the aroma of the smoke. “You always have to light it from the outside in, around the edge, taking great care not to make the Habano smoky“, recommends Alexis Menéndez, Havana’s Cohiba Atmosphere Habanosommelier. In addition, the Co-Presidents of Habanos, S.A. Inocente Núñez and Luis Sánchez-Harguindey, prefer to light the cigar with cedar “since it provides a fantastic aroma and smell“. Once lit, it only remains to enjoy and appreciate the full range of characteristics.
The Habano can be paired and enjoyed along with other products such as, for example, a good spirit that provides and enriches new sensations that increase the pleasure. However, there are an increasing number of experts who claim that an Habano can also be paired with products as special as tea, coffee, chocolate, beer or a good wine.
Now all you have to do is relax and savour the subtle flavours and aromas of the Habano blend chosen. “And when the sad moment of leaving your Habano arrives, don’t put it out, just leave it in the ashtray.” Or as lovers of this premium product say, “let it die with dignity“.