Havana Trip, Feb-Mar 2015: Follow-Up on Cigar-Specific Items…

So, tailing my post about getting back from my Havana trip last month, and going through some of my e-notes I made on my iPhone while down in Havana, I’ve got a bit of a follow-up here solely on cigars – cigar talk, stock at stores, etc.  Some people have been asking me for a bit more detail on the status of some stores and whatnot, so I figured I’d expand on that here.

Regarding cigar stock at stores specifically, for those I was able to hit up…

  • LCDH at 5y16 (Carlos Robaina’s store):  heavily picked over, lots of piramides of all types, lots of the cheaper standard-production stuff.  Trinidad – only Reyes available; LGC – only MdO No. 4’s; PL Montecarlos only.  No 50-cabs to be found there at all aside from two not-so-nice-looking Magnum 50’s.
  • Club Habana:  Jorge is up to his eyeballs in custom orders for Monsdales and his new robusto largos, so if you want those, order ahead of time (he’s 3-4 weeks lead time right now).  Lots of varied production stuff available, good general selection, occasional aged gems to be found in the piles.  Found boxes of RA Gigantes, RASS boxes from 2010 and 2011, lots of HdM Epi Especial, fair amount of aged SCDLH, etc.  Lots of boxes here of the newer stuff – Trinidad Vigia, PL Picadores, Partagas Seleccion Privada EL, the HdM EL and LCDH stuff, etc., etc.
  • Hotel Nacional shop, Casa de Tabacco:  LOADS of RyJ and Cohiba (except for the most popular).  No cabs at all.  Minimal Trini and LGC (just Reyes and MdO 4’s again).  Boxes and boxes of fairly gorgeous fresh-production Monte Especials – best I’ve seen in Cuba in years.
  • Habana Libre:  absolutely RIDICULOUS “special edition” Cohiba Silver humidors available now (detailed here in a separate post, but safe to say if you buy these, you have more moolah than brains).  Lots of RA Gigantes and RASS, loads of PL Panetelas and Picadores, HdM Epi De Luxe, Boli Liberatador, loads of Cohiba Maduro 5 stuff, tons of regular RyJ and Montecristo stock.
  • Shop at Casa Del Ron y Del Tabacco Cubano (beside Floridita bar):  absolutely nothing worthwhile in stock.  All newer stuff of regular brands.  No room to move in their already small triangular-shaped walk-in humidor, as they’re using it for storage for extra boxes of bottles of rum.  LOL.
  • LCDH at Conde de Villanueva (Reynaldo’s shop):  as always, a very busy and smokey little shop.  Yet again, managed to kief my fucking head off of one of the boxes nailed to the ceiling beams – hate those things, LOL.  Minimal selection of stock in there right now, and nothing special found at all.  Mostly 10-boxes and simple 3- and 5-packs.  Seems to be more and more catering to tourists grabbing simple give-away stuff (not a bad business move though, considering the sheer numbers).
  • Partagas factory shop:  tons of all stock, except for brand new releases like PL Picadores and Trini Vigias (all sold out from the preceeding week).  A fair amount of the new Anejados stuff.  Dozens of Sir Winnies boxes.  Not too many 50-cabs noticed.
  • LCDH at Melia Cohiba:  fair amount of customs availble, but they were fairly bland and nothing overly interesting this time.  Very faint flavours.  Stock very similar in look to that from 5y16 – very picked over, nothing interesting in hand.
  • Commodoro:  some nice boxes of aged RA gems, like Gigantes, some good Trini stuff.  A decent selection, but not much overall volume.  Again, pre-eminent placement and quantities of Monte Open, Cohiba Maduro 5, RyJ, etc.
  • LCDH at Melia Habana:  humidor nicely stocked, not feeling “overly damp” as in the past.  Very noticable tobacco-beetle glue trap sitting out on a shipping crate in the middle of the floor near the back by the AC/humidifier.  Pretty good overall selection – Trinidad very aromatic here, great Partagas selections, found RA Superiores here, WONDERFUL looking and smelling boxes of Sir Winnies, and some great 25- and 50-cabs too.  Lots of 50-cabs here actually – found a wonderful Punch Double Coronas 50-cab even.  Lots of Yolanda’s customs too, but she’s prepping a bigger order for a Chinese customer.

And, regarding some of the various cigar talk and discussions that took place over the week…

  • Many of the custom rollers I saw and spoke to said wrapper leaf is still a bit of an issue.  While the quality is much better than the green-speckled light claro stuff we saw in November, it’s still got a bit of a way to go.  Some rollers said they were rejecting a bit of what they got in wrapper leaf, and using it as filler instead if possible.  Some were behind in their “normal” production for customers by 3-4 weeks, to upwards of 2 months (compared to usually only a few days for orders, depending on specifics) – definitely call or e-mail ahead if you wish to get some customs from the more popular divans.
  • Some of what was normally available in LCDH stores was not there.  With many of the brands, selection was few and far between.  Sometimes, with RA for example, one store would have loads of RASS but no RASSC, and then vice versa for another store.  Same with PL – cabs and cabs of PLPC at one place, and then a glut of Panetelas or Montecarlos at another.  But, with Cohiba especially – I was looking for a nice box or two of Cohiba Robustos or Siglo IV’s with the newer El Laguito code – there was really nothing to be found in shops of those at all.  Lots of Siglo II’s, Piramides Extra, various tubos and cardboard packs, and LOADS of the Maduro 5 line to be found, but nothing else generally from Cohiba.  I went to El Laguito as a quick hello / pop-in, but did not do a full tour this time, so I can’t comment on what production looks like there.  But, it was weird to see the state of Cohiba non-available-stock in the stores such as it was with this trip.
  • In a conversation with Simon Chase and Mitchell Orchant, we discussed the full colour La Gloria Cubana bands that Simon designed for the Gloriosos UK RE from a number of years back, and overall beautiful design of the box and packaging.  Simon stated that he would do something similar to that again, like those or better, if he did a LGC UK RE again (and there was a glint in his eye when he said so, so if one’s not already in the works, he seemed passionate to follow through on that).
  • Obviously, conversations on Hamlet’s move.  Many shocked and saddened by it, especially the manner it was done, however everyone seems to understand it also, and everyone wishes nothing but the best for him and his family.  Many are excited to see what the future may hold for him, now that he has the freedom to be his own man.
  • Anejados cigars – many conversations, not enough room here, LOL.  The RyJ Piramides – had one, pushed myself to smoke half, pitched it; smoked another, chucked it after only being an inch in.  Crap.
  • Amir Saarony – more coming from this collector of all things cigar, and the author of “Partagas: El Libro”.  I didn’t have as much of a chance to have a conversation with him during this trip as compared to November or recently on the phone, but we’re going to follow up with another phone chat soon hopefully, and I can hammer down more of what he’s coming to market with soon.

Cheers all.