Far is already that day in November 1492 when Spaniard Rodrigo de Xerez and converted Jew Luis de Torres saw Cuban aboriginals smoking "dry leaves which gave off a peculiar fragrance."
The two eavesdroppers learned and acquired, from the natives of the New World that habit of absorbing the "Cohiba", a practice that would expand incredibly throughout the world and serve to give Cuba more glitter.
A close friend of Christopher Columbus, Xerez returned to Spain in the La Niña caravel and brought back smoking, something that frightened neighbors who accused him to the Inquisition that imprisoned him for his "pagan and devilish" habits
The sailor was accused of witchcraft, since "only the devil could give a man the power to exhale smoke from his mouth," but when he was released from prison seven years later, the habit of smoking had spread.
That’s the story, pure and simple, of the renowned Cuban cigars, that in a few days will be the starlet of the XV Festival del Habano, the event with more luxury and glamor of those made today on the island.
Though in Cuba tobacco is harvested in several provinces, is the westernmost Pinar del Rio, where the best leaves are grown, especially in the Vuelta Abajo region, considered by many to be the heart of the tobacco region, because out of their land come out almost 70 percent of the national production.
Growers live on the plantations, as the late Alejandro Robaina, Cuba’s only living person to have his name used as a brand since 1997, one of the prestigious brands of the Premium cigars, which are hand-rolled.
To Robaina, who died in 2010, the secret of fame achieved by Cuban cigars lay in "have a good soil and pamper it. When the harvest is over, we don’t even let animals in the land. "
However, for a good cigar is not enough to have the best soil, the ideal water and a line of experienced farmers, but they also need the expert hands of the rollers, true craftsmen who manufacture one by one the most famous cigars in the world to reach 100 million units in some years.
It is true that production has declined, but to many experts, as one of the most renowned wine and cigar tasters in the world, the Californian James Suckling, the low output allows better quality and control of the leaves.
So Suckling placed eight made in Cuba cigars, headed by Montecristo Limited Edition 520 2012 in the list of the 10 best cigars last year, while a panel of experts convened by Cigar Aficionado magazine, ranked Cohiba 1966 Limited Edition 2011 second.
These views only confirm the excellence of the precious and expensive cigars Habanos SA sells in the world, a joint venture between state-owned Cubatabaco and Altadis, the Franco-German subsidiary of the British multinational Imperial Tobacco…
World leader in the sale of premium cigars, Habanos SA is present on five continents and is distributed in more than 150 countries, with 90 percent of its total revenues made outside Cuba.