Back from Havana in one piece…relatively…

So, another trip to Havana has come and gone.  Lots of ups and downs, some food poisoning and weather issues, some interesting news tidbits and a very few nice finds.  More posts will come in the following days, but here are some of my highlights…

  • Epic boxes to be found of some common production stuff.  Still too few and far between, but some great gems could be found.  Not much love felt lately for many cigars and brands outside of the “big stuff” (Montecristo, especially the Open line, Partagas, tons of RyJ, HdM, fair amount of Trinidad, etc.)
  • Almost nothing found of outside-of-the-norm or vintage stuff, aside from a few partial boxes or hidden gems.
  • NO appearance of new RE’s or LE’s that I saw anywhere, until finding a newly-arrived-but-not-yet-opened mastercase of Cohiba Robusto Supremos at a LCDH on the last day of the festival week (bad business move by H S.A. yet again – why skip out on a busy week for cigar fans with the festival?!!?!)
  • Higher-than-normal appearance of tobacco beetles being found in production boxes at the LCDH’s.
  • Minimal amount of tobacco available to custom rollers still being felt.
  • LOTS OF RUM!!!!
  • Next to no Cubita coffee to be found, no Cafe Serrano at all (a shame, being that’s my favourite), but some other miscellaneous brand was found everywhere, but explained to me by a couple of store clerks as Cuba’s “no-name brand” and best to steer clear of.
  • A great visit, graciously organized and assisted by Nino Munoz, for us to see the ladies and gents of the Lung Kong Society in Havana, where we brought a number of gifts to help them in proceed of the funds raised during this past summer’s Toronto MegaHerf IV.
  • Two new series of exclusive jars from San Ramon Producciones to be released in February 2015 during the next Habanos Festival, and which will be discussed here in full detail later this week.
  • A special tasting event was held courtesy of Havana House for the 2014 RE Canada, the LFDC Siboney.  It’s due to be released February or so, and it does not look favourable as it currently stands.  A full review will be up later on this week (now completed and can be found here).
  • A new friend and fellow Havana-goer from Canada, David, has exposed us all to the newfound joys of both normal David (which is a term I use loosely, LOL) and then “Drunk Dave”.  Many hijinks were had.  David, I think I may still have some of your money in my pants pocket.
  • MUCH higher prevalence of the “money exchange scam” being run.  It’s always been occurring at the Cadeca exchange at the Varadero airport, in moderate amounts.  But, travellers in my group, myself included, noticed it going on everywhere and very constant and consistently, including even at the Cadeca exchange AT the Hotel Nacional!  That’s usually a very safe place, especially as “cigar central” during these weeks, but it was definitely prevalent more than usual this week.
  • Some great times shared again with Nino, Rob Ayala and other Aussie, Canadian, Euro, American, etc. FOH members, Rob Fox, Amir Saarony, Hamlet, Jose Candia, La China, etc., meeting again with Jose Lugo, and a chance to finally meet up with a number of other notables (Bart, Aussie “Motorhead-Lemmy”, some more Havana House and H S.A. people, etc.).  One great thing is that the overall group of us managed to make everyone’s favourite “one-eyed cat” jazz club, otherwise known as the “Irish Embassy”, into the “Commonwealth Consulate”, as nearly every night it seemed the various menagerie of us managed to pack into that sweaty little spot.  As always, great times were had.
  • Got to help Hamlet sell some boxes at the Partagas LCDH, as he was busy prepping for the closing gala.  Got to go through bunches of Sir Winnies, Mag 46’s, La Fuerza’s, etc.  Even, when he got tied up and spinning with so much going on, starting picking out boxes for various people in the store, with Hamlet then giving final approval of the boxes I picked.  Just a fun time, and unique to have me picking out boxes for others, with Hamlet 100% happy and approving of my picks, with his usual drawl of, “Mang, now that’s a nice box, buddy!”

So, more will be forthcoming later on this week.  Needless to say, by the attached photo, I did find enough to fill my luggage at least, LOL.  Bit of a hit by Customs on this end though, but still a well-worth-it stockpile.  A selection of some of the goods:

  • Hotel Nacional ashtrays for myself and some friends
  • Couple boxes of Partagas Culebras
  • Glorious box of SCDLH La Fuerza
  • Partial box of Montecristo EL 2010 Grand Edmundos
  • Partial box of H. Upmann EL 2012 Robustos
  • Monsdales, Monsdales, and more Monsdales!!!
  • A couple choice customs from other miscellaneous rollers
  • Partagas “Serie Club” 10-pack, as the “premium leader in the small cigar market“, LOL, or so the badly-translated H S.A. propaganda from the opening dinner would have us believe
  • More aged Cohiba Siglo V’s from 2005 that I managed to hunt down and scoop up
  • Custom jar for a good friend
  • And, last but not least, just a wee bit of rum

Still fighting off the hangover recovery from the overall toll that the week takes on me.  Definitely not as young as I used to be.

Better start training the body and mind for the next event then!

Cheers all.