CU­RI­OUS FACTS ON THE HA­BANO FES­TI­VAL

Excelencias from the Caribbean & the Americas - - THE 20TH HABANO FESTIVAL - BY / INDIRA ROMÁN PHO­TOS / ALVITE / JOSÉ TITO MERIÑO / EX­CE­LEN­CIAS ARCHIVES

WHAT’S THE MOST EX­PEN­SIVE AND EX­CLU­SIVE HA­BANO IN THE HIS­TORY OF THE FES­TI­VALS? WHAT’S BEEN THE MOST COV­ETED VI­TOLA? WHAT MU­SI­CIAN AUC­TIONED OFF HIS HAT FOR $17,500? LET’S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT 20 CU­RI­OUS FACTS ON THE HA­BANO FES­TI­VAL RIGHT AT ITS 20TH EDI­TION

THE FES­TI­VAL’S MOST EX­PEN­SIVE HAT

That was a mem­o­rable night back on Fe­bru­ary 2001. Dur­ing the 3rd Ha­bano Fes­ti­val, many peo­ple bid on the hat of Cuban mu­si­cian Fran­cisco Repi­lado, the cel­e­brated Com­pay Se­gundo, who was at­tend­ing the clos­ing din­ner. The hat went un­der the gavel for $17,500, an amount good enough to buy 50,000 vac­cines for Cuban chil­dren. The late Cuban leader Fidel Cas­tro was also in at­ten­dance and au­to­graphed the pre­cious hat, which also car­ried Com­pay's sig­na­ture.

THE NEW CEN­TURY HU­MI­DOR

The star of the night at the clos­ing din­ner of the 5th Ha­bano Fes­ti­val was a piece of hu­mi­dor-fur­ni­ture de­signed by Cuban com­pany Dujo. It was built with solid cedar and could store up to 2,000 Ha­banos. It was part of a lim­ited se­ries cre­ated to usher in the new cen­tury. It sold for $60,000.

CUABA SPE­CIAL HU­MI­DOR

It was one of four hu­mi­dors auc­tioned dur­ing the first edi­tion. It was a re­cre­ation of Cemi, the God of To­bacco among abo­rig­i­nals and the cen­ter­piece in the Co­hoba rit­ual. It was called Cuaba Case, just in ded­i­ca­tion to that Ha­bano brand.

FOR BOTH MEN AND WOMEN

The 12th edi­tion set the tone with the launch of a fancy and state-ofthe-art alu­minum pouch that car­ried a new vi­tola just for women. Juli­eta, from the Romeo y Juli­eta brand, was un­veiled with opera singer Sara Bright­man, one of the most beau­ti­ful faces in mu­sic, in at­ten­dance.

THE MOST PAS­SION­ATE ROMEO Y JULI­ETA SMOKER

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Win­ston Churchill was no doubt one of the top smok­ers of this brand. Since his Ha­vana visit in 1946, his name has been used in some bands and even in a vi­tola: Churchills de Romeo y Juli­eta. In the course of the 6th Fes­ti­val, an honor din­ner was of­fered to his grand­daugh­ter, Jenny Rep­pard, to mark the Bri­tish politi­cian's 130th birth­day.

HA­BANOS’ FIRST GRAN RESERVA

For the first time dur­ing the 17th edi­tion, the first Ha­banos Grand Re­serve was pre­sented, thus bear­ing out the unique char­ac­ter of Ha­banos as a pro­tected denom­i­na­tion of ori­gin. Cohiba's Siglo VI vi­tola, with an out­put of 5,000 cases, was the cigar of choice.

THE MOST RO­MAN­TIC PRE­MIUM CIGAR

To­tally rolled by hand with long filler and founded back in 1875, the Romeo y Juli­eta brand was the star of the show at the 17th Ha­bano Fes­ti­val with the launch of Wide Churchills Gran Reserva 2009.

EL FLORIDITA GOES TO LON­DON

Or­ga­niz­ers of the 4th Ha­bano Fes­ti­val an­nounced the open­ing in Lon­don of El Floridita, the fa­mous Ha­vana bar where Amer­i­can au­thor and No­bel Prize win­ner Ernest Hem­ing­way used to sip at his mo­jito.

THE MOST EX­CLU­SIVE AND SE­LECT LINE

It was rolled out dur­ing the 12th edi­tion. Even though Ha­banos had made a splash with the most ex­pen­sive and ex­clu­sive cigar of all, this time around the com­pany came up with three new vitolas for the Be­hike Line called BHK52, BHK54 and BHK56. For the first time, a very scarce to­bacco leaf called me­dio tiempo, which chips in more strength and taste to the Ha­bano, was added to the mix. They came out with ex­clu­sive sizes, blends, boxes and bands. The lat­ter used holo­graphic pa­per with ex­clu­sive re­lief en­graved on it for the first time.

THE LONG­EST ASH EVER

It was by far one of the most an­tic­i­pated mo­ments of the 16th Fes­ti­val. It was an orig­i­nal skill test taken by some 450 peo­ple who let their Ha­bano ash stay at­tached to their cigars for the long­est time dur­ing a tast­ing ses­sion.

THE WORLD’S LONG­EST CIGAR

He has set half a dozen Guin­ness World Records and grabbed the Ha­bano Man Award in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion back in 2011. Jose Caste­lar, a.k.a. Cueto, rolled a 100-plus­me­ter-long cigar that proudly went down in the Ha­bano Fes­ti­vals' his­tory books.

THE MOST PRE­MIUM PRO­POSAL EVER UN­VEILED BY MON­TE­CRISTO

It was the 1935 Line, named after the year in which the brand was founded. Dur­ing the 19th edi­tion, three new vitolas joined the reg­u­lar port­fo­lio. Two of them were com­pletely new: Maltés and Du­mas, both fea­tur­ing un­seen pre­sen­ta­tions within the strong-tast­ing range. The third, called Leyenda, took on the size of the Mon­te­cristo 80th An­niver­sary Spe­cial Edi­tion.

COHIBA’S FIRST FIGURADO

Pirámides Ex­tra was the first figurado (tor­pedo) ever to join the brand's Línea Clásica on a per­ma­nent ba­sis and the first ever for this brand. It clung to the Cohiba Clas­sic Line's blend fea­tur­ing a mild-to-strong taste. It was launched dur­ing the 14th Ha­bano Fes­ti­val.

THE GREAT AUC­TION­EER AT THE HA­BANO GALA DIN­NERS

Si­mon Chase from the UK, win­ner of the 1998 Ha­bano Man of the Year Award in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, has been the great auc­tion­eer dur­ing the fes­ti­vals. From just sell­ing home­made jam un­der the gavel in his com­mu­nity, he turned out to be the event's first auc­tion­eer.

THE PRE­MIERE OF THE AÑEJADO CON­CEPT

The 15th edi­tion gave birth to the Añejado (Aged) con­cept with a cou­ple of roll­outs: Romeo y Juli­eta Pirámides Añe­ja­dos and Mon­te­cristo Churchills Añe­ja­dos. Both were new vitolas within their re­spec­tive brands.

THE ONLY AND LIM­ITED LAUNCH OF A LEATHER CASE

To­tally hand­made and fea­tur­ing 10 Mer­caderes in­side, it car­ried one of the most de­mand­ing vitolas from the San Cris­to­bal de La Ha­bana brand. It had a one-and-only lim­ited pre­sen­ta­tion of 1,500 cases dur­ing the 15th Ha­bano Fes­ti­val. Ital­ian fash­ion mogul Gior­gio Gucci was in at­ten­dance that night.

THE MOST COV­ETED HA­BANO SIZE IN HIS­TORY

With over 1,000 mil­lion units sold since its launch back in 1935, Mon­te­cristo No. 4 basked in the lime­light of the 9th Ha­bano Fes­ti­val's gala din­ner.

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