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what would you like to know about Cuba?

Food & drink-Cigars
Quality cigars are still almost entirely hand-made in Cuba and many Cuban Cigar factories still employ a ‘lector’ or reader to help keep the workers entertained. A good ‘cigar-roller’ can produce over two hundred, nearly identical, cigars per day.

The tobacco and especially the outer wrapper leaves need to be kept moist and the cigars rollers use a ‘chavetas’ which is a specially designed crescent-shaped knife to form the filler and wrapper leaves into a cigar. Rolled cigars are then stored in wooden forms as they dry, and finally their uncapped ends are cut to a uniform size before they are boxed and labelled ready for sale.

There’s a huge choice and there are specialist shops in many larger towns selling anything from the one off huge Havana cigar to impress your friends on your return or the Petit Coronas sold by the box and favoured by President Kennedy. According to a US White house note from 6th February 1962 President Kennedy asked his Press Secretary to obtain 1200 of his favourite Upmann Petit Coronas from Havana. On 7th February when the cigars arrived he signed the US trade embargo banning all imports from Cuba, which still exists today.

However persuasive the street seller or tempting the ‘discounted’ price may seem only buy from official outlets. Almost all cigars sold on the streets are cheap fakes or even stolen. Authentic Cuban cigars have an official seal of approval and the Customs Officials at Havana airport will inspect this. If it is fake they will confiscate the cigars.

Havana is probably the best place to make a purchase and there are two factories within walking distance of the hotels in the old city. The famous Paratagas Cigar factory is alongside the Capitol building in the heart of the old town and the Romeo Y Julieta Cigar Factory can be found on Padre Varela Street. Our reps will be happy to advise on the excursions available and where you can buy cigars.

Many hotels, especially the larger ones, also have shops where they have special climate controlled sections where they sell cigars. The Nacional Hotel overlooking the Malecon has a good cigar shop and the Hotel de Conde Villa Nueva in the old city is especially geared to cigar aficionados.

The very scenic area to the west of Havana known as Pinar del Rio is where much of the worlds best cigar tobacco is grown and there are daily excursions to visit the tobacco fields and drying sheds along with a visit to a cigar factory. In Vinales the Hotel Los Jasmines has an excellent cigar shop .. ..and for a last minute purchase before returning home there’s a good cigar (and rum) shop at Havana Airport

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