Do you have a cigar? A light puppet called Dundu delivers a box of cigars in theatrical style to Leopoldo Cintra González, commercial vice president of Habanos SA
It was Cohiba last week in Havana when Habanos SA celebrated the 55th anniversary of its most famous brand, which is marketed not just as an ultra-premium cigar, but as a global luxury product. The three-day event ended with a new record when a huge Cohiba humidor was auctioned off for $2.8 million, the highest bid ever in Habanos auction history.
It may not have been a full-fledged Habanos festival in the traditional sense, but the celebration served as a mini-festival and included many aspects familiar to festival-goers, such as a visit to the El Laguito factory. ; cigar banquet evenings; an auction of unique humidors and a preview of the Cohiba 55 Aniversario Edición Limitada cigar for 2021.
Celebration attendees had rare access to El Laguito, the converted mansion that now serves as the parent factory for the Cohiba brand.
Habanos reports that around 650 guests from around the world came to Havana for the scaled-down celebration, an intimate affair compared to the thousands of visitors who normally flock to the official Festival.
It all started with a Cohiba party at El Laguito Protocol Hall, which has been the venue used by Habanos for many Festival events in the past. Cohiba was the theme and guests were treated to a variety of cigars including Cohiba Robustos and Cohiba Novedosos, a cigar made exclusively for La Casa del Habano retailers. The Novedosos are still an elusive smoke. Spain held a launch party for the cigar in 2019, which suggested a worldwide release was imminent, but most of the world has yet to see this cigar. Welcome speeches were given by Habanos co-presidents Inocente Núñez Blanco and Luis Sánchez-Harguindey, and the evening was marked by live music.
Habanos co-chairs Inocente Núñez Blanco and Luis Sánchez-Harguindey toast during the final night of the Cohiba 55 Aniversario celebration.
The Cohiba theme continued the next day with a visit to El Laguito, the stately converted mansion that serves as the Cohiba brand’s parent factory. This facility is normally off-limits to the general public, but on occasions like this, Habanos allows supervised tours for those attending the celebration. For those interested in how Cohibas and other brands are built, the tour provides a fascinating, step-by-step insight.
The mini-festival ended Friday in typical festival fashion at the PabExpo convention center, where Cohiba continued to be celebrated with a full dinner, live entertainment and a humidor auction. A variety of Cohiba cigars were dispensed that evening, including the Cohiba Ambar, the Cohiba Ideales (both unreleased) and, of course, the Cohiba 55 Aniversario.
Dance performances like this kept spirits high during the final gala of the three-day anniversary event.
An awards ceremony honoring Habanos Man of the Year for 2020 and 2021 saw six new inductees: Eulalio Bejarano and Riad Boukaram in the Business category; Walid Saleh and Angel García Muñoz in the Communications category; and Vicente Fausto Torres and Nelson Rodriguez Lopez in the Production category.
Walid Saleh holds his Habanos Man of the Year trophy presented by the Habanos co-presidents. Saleh is CEO of Phenicia Trading AA, one of the largest Cuban cigar distributors in the world.
After the presentation of the trophies, the evening became dramatic when the auction began. Two unique humidors were on the block, one a fairly modest batch of champagne and cigars, and the other a jaw-dropping colossus. The smallest lot was an Ellie Bleu humidor containing a bottle of Rare Vintage 1988 Champagne and 44 Cohiba Ambar cigars. An additional batch of 48 additional bottles were also part of the batch – 24 from the 1988 vintage and 24 from 2008.
One of only two auction lots, this champagne and cigar set closed at 100,000 euros.
But this lot was immediately eclipsed by the main object of the auction – a large cavernous humidor made up of cabinets, compartments and drawers that could hold 550 cigars, all Cohiba, some of which are limited editions, others of regular production portfolio. History was made that evening when Jimmy Ng, a cigar collector from Singapore, won the lot for 2.8 million euros ($2.8 million), the highest bid ever placed at a a Habanos auction. As with every Festival auction, proceeds are intended to help fund Cuba’s public health system.
After the auction ended, the evening ended with a performance by English singer and songwriter James Morrison.
The evening ended with a performance by English singer and songwriter James Morrison.
Note that the Cohiba brand turned 55 last year, but festival cancellations in 2021 and 2022, coupled with logistical difficulties caused by the pandemic, delayed the anniversary celebration.
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