By Myrurgia Hernandez
Photographs courtesy of R. A. Bevans of Rush B Photography
Cigars courtesy of Jamal Sharief of Bahama Humidor
One of the many beautiful destinations serviced by Bahamasair, visit Bahamasair.com to book your travel to Cuba.
Imagine making island hopping your new hobby, since it can be satisfied with Bahamasair’s destinations: you could visit places that have unique items to offer. One of those interesting destinations is to Havana, Cuba. It’s a flight that always transports many passengers that bring back a popular and highly acclaimed souvenir: a box of Cohiba cigars, also known as Habanos.
Cuban cigars are well known for the beauty of the box, the iconic scent, the handcrafted product and the exquisite taste; but what lies beneath the final product? Let me walk you through a process that will help you make a sound decision when purchasing Habanos.
According to Jhusat Hernández Batista, quality technician of cigars export company El Laguito (Cohiba), the secret to the quality of Cuban cigars is the soil found in the country, mainly in Vuelta Abajo (a geographic region in the Pinar del Río Province of Cuba). The area is famous for its beautiful fields of tobacco leaves, and it lies in the extreme western part of the island, bordered on the north by the Sierra de los Órganos mountains. It is one of the five tobacco regions of Cuba where the soil is unique and not found in any other country.
Many experts believe that the Vuelta Abajo valley produces the best cigar tobacco in the world, and that that is where the secret of the flavor and aroma comes from. The mixture of the leaves that give each brand its unique taste, based on the type of cigar and the professional quality of those who make it, determines the outcome that gives Cuban cigars the quality stamp known to all.
Did you know that the time of sowing, harvesting, drying and curing tobacco makes all the difference? That is a magic that only those who grow the plant know, and of course nobody says so… But, as I said, the soil is the most important thing to determine that aroma and flavor.
When rolling a cigar, several leaves are used—all from the same plant. The leaves have different functions: fillers, binders or wrappers. The mixture of the various parts of the leaf determines the strength of the cigar.
If you are considering acquiring Cuban cigars as a souvenir, here is what expert cigar roller Batista recommends:
• Cohiba Siglo I and Siglo II for in between meetings or theater functions;
• For a business lunch, a good Robusto is all you need;
• However, during a dinner, Espléndidos or Siglo VI will seal the deal.
I sought advice from expert cigar taster Daniel Morejon Romero, who recommends to light up a party with a 56 or 54. I had no clue what those numbers meant, so he added that those numbers are for the Cohiba Behike cigar line, which is currently one of the most expensive Habanos in the world. (In case you want to impress with a gift.)
Cohiba Behike is the Bentley of the most prestigious brands. It carries three sizes: BHK 52, BHK 54 and BHK 56. The production of Behike is extremely limited and exclusive. This prestigious product incorporates the "medio tiempo" tobacco leaf, which offers exceptional character and flavor.
Did you know that “cohiba” was the indigenous Taino word for tobacco, and the person conducting a ritual in which they lit up their cohibas was called the “behike” (priest or medicine man)?
My curiosity on the subject led me to another expert cigar taster, Orquidia González. I asked her about the sensation experienced after her tasting routine. She said it is like transporting yourself to heaven; it’s having the assurance that relaxation, accompanied with the aroma of peace, was guaranteed after each smoke.
When choosing a cigar, consider that each cigar brand has different strengths. For example, the Partagás line is strong, Cohiba is a medium to strong Habano and Romeo y Julieta is medium to mild. The Cohiba line is also different from the others because its leaves age for five years; however, other brands age their leaves for two or three years. But all cigars are best kept in a humidor.
Are you ready for a cigar tour?