Havana Trip, Nov 2015: Follow-Up On Cigar-Specific Stuff…

Again, I know I’m two months delayed in getting these posts up on here, and I’m sorry that I couldn’t be more timely with that, especially if any of the tidbits below could potentially help out some fellow Havana travellers.  Please check out my previous on “Havana Trip, Nov 2015: General Follow-Up…”

But, as has become a bit of my usual while down in Havana, I’ve come to make some daily notes on my iPhone to track what I’ve smoked and where I’ve ate at, as well as to note down a bit of a listing for follow-up items solely on cigars – cigar talk, stock at stores, etc.  I’ve been asked before for a bit more detail on the status of some stores and whatnot, and I’ve placed it both on the Friends Of Habanos forum, as well as on here, and it’s seemed to help out a few people, so I figured I’d continue to expand on that.

Also, good friend Frank had also posted some of this on an FOH thread that he used to relay info while I was down there, but there’s a bit more elaboration here with that stuff.

So, without further ado…

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

  • No Diplomaticos Excellencias 2015 RE Cuba anywhere.  I saw one box during the entire week only, at the welcome-cocktail evening at the LCDH at Habana Libre, and it was already spoken for…er…up for “raffle”.  But nothing of these available ANYWHERE that week.
  • With that on the Dip RE’s, talk during the first few days at multiple shops from multiple managers was that there was a Venezuelan government delegation in town, and they had requested 1000 boxes, so the word was that the Cuban V.P. had tootled around town just at the tail end of the week before and gobbled up everything they could.  Grabbed everything available basically from Cubatabacco shipment going out to shops on the Thurs / Fri right before we got there.  Awesome.  Not.
  • Habana Libre:  hawking lots of their special stuff – noticed crates and crates of the “record player” humidors still, and other specialty stuff.  Lots of nice looking RASS, tons of Cohiba Maduro 5 stuff, and lots of regular Monte and RyJ stuff, a fair bit of Boli stuff too.  RyJ Cedros de Luxe LCDH release only found in volume at Habana Libre’s LCDH.  Cohiba Esplendidos found aplenty here (funny “XXO” lots-o-love code).
  • Club Habana:  Jorgito again is struggling to get enough tobacco, especially wrapper leaf, for orders for his Monsdales and newer robusto largos custom cigars.  As usual, I ordered a few months in advance – he says he’s almost week-to-week caught up now, but getting good wrapper leaf is still causing a bit of an issue.  As normal, the humidor in this shop had lots of boxes of damn near everything, had the important / available newer stuff.  The little cabinet off to the corner, which usually holds some aged treats, is getting less restock items for in there lately, and was only about a 1/4 full.
  • Hotel Nacional:  the LCDH here had decent amounts of some of the newer stock.  Again, tons of current release Cohiba and RyJ stuff.  Only a few lonely cabs.  Some nice boxes of Monte Especials still there.
  • Melia Cohiba:  this spot used to have quite a bit of some aged gems hiding here and there.  No more.  All current stuff, and seems to be fairly sparsely filled at that – lots of empty shelf space here.
  • Partagas LCDH:  LOL.  I got bitched out by Sadie and La China here.  There was a TON of American tourists there, checking the place out and whatnot (lucky they found it beyond all the rubble – TONS of excavations and construction going on on the streets outside, around the Capitolio and such.  Anyways, amidst the commotion, with me and some others coming back and forth from the VIP Room, I came out to get some drinks – and I paid for them.  I always pay for them, if I’m grabbing them, and besides, I didn’t really know the lady running the bar that day (a newer face, I think?)  Well, she came back to the VIP Room later, embarrassed, saying she wasn’t supposed to charge me for the drinks, and then Sadie came back there to give me shit about it too, followed by La China (though my Spanish is piss poor, I think that’s what was going on).  Anyhow, they made me feel like family…by aptly giving me hell.  LOL.
  • the new RA El’s were somewhat thin on the ground.  John and I found 3 different box codes, spreading over a 3 month window of production, only found available at the Habana Libre shop during those first few days.  The RAE code turned out to be stellar, and when we went back to buy, there were a couple of Asian fellas walking out with what was left.  We found nothing else all week until we went into the shop at the Saratoga Hotel on the last day, and bought all 6 boxes that they had.
  • shops hawking a new “Petit Robusto” pack from H S.A., similar to the Robusto and Piramides Seleccion releases from a few years back.  Yeah, ’cause those have sold SOOOOOOO well, Habanos!!!  Same sort of packaging for these – wooden split-opening box, $108 CUC for 10 sticks (2 of each of the same “big 5” brands).  Whew.
  • Only RA EL’s that we found, John and I scooped up.  Nothing else relatively to be found of RA ELs, Dip REs, other LCDH releases, special shit, etc.  All scooped up by big vendors – Reeza alone went through like a hurricane (was even at the Habana Libre cocktail night).  Rumours of Nakamura in and out of town within a 48 hr window, but didn’t see him personally.
  • Repeatedly hit up LCDHs at Club Habana, Commodoro, Melia Habana, 5 y 16, Melia Cohiba, Nacional, Habana Libre, Partagas, Parque Central, El Museo del Ron, Conde de Villanueva, and a few other unnamed locales.  LOADS of RyJ nearly everything, tons of Monte for lasting years and years, loads of Hoyo just about everything, Partagas across the gamut (Lusi’s and Culebras coming out the wazoo).
  • Now….Cohiba.  Since we ARE into Cohiba-year now, after all!!!!  Nearly all of the above mentioned shops had Cohiba everything – all the Siglo line was found basically, lots and lots of robustos, IVs and VIs especially, with all Jul-Aug 2015 date coded and onwards.  So, Cohiba looks geared up again.  Did not see a single box of Cohiba Lanceros though – not a single, solitary box.
  • Tons of Punch Punch and Punch Double Coronas especially noted.  Excellent looking Sir Winnie’s around, most with 2014 date codes and some especially gorgeous early-2015 date codes (if I recall/noted correctly on that item).
  • Loads of other Ramon Allones stuff (aside from LEs), with oodles of Gigantes about, and RASS and RASSC a plenty.
  • Quai d’Orsay only found sparingly, only Coronas.
  • Next to no La Gloria Cubana, only a few boxes here and there of Medaille d’Or No. 4’s.
  • Epi’s EVERYWHERE.
  • H. Upmann 2015 LE’s were being unboxed aplenty at the Varadero airport’s cigar shack.  Didn’t see them anywhere else during the week (aside from sticks being in Habana Libre’s special humidors for an upcharge).
  • LCDH at Melia Habana:  definite continued improvement in the humidor here – dried out, tobacco-beetle glue traps still around but with a bit more covertness, no musty / moldy stuff there currently.  Really nice cigar selection continuing – some nice RA and Trinidad stuff, wonderful Partagas stock, and still more epic looking boxes of Sir Winnies there.  A continued vein of great looking 25- and 50-cabs.  Yolanda super busy entertaining guests, but also putting on a session in doing her custom rolls, of which there were lots available.

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

  • the Encuentros Partagas opening dinner night was going up and up in price while we were there.  With it previously being only $100 CUC for a ticket, this past November’s event already had raised a few eyebrows by announcing it as $115 CUC for a ticket in the promotional material sent out earlier in the fall.  Well, upon arrival in Havana, most were surprised to see that the price was moved from $115 CUC to $120.  With the CAD dollar exchange sitting at 1.4005 to buy CUCs, that put tickets at $165 basically, for a shit meal, and “up to” maybe 10 cigars (which all turned out to be regular production, “extra banded” smokes – no customs from La China even).  So, while many of us were planning on attending, many said fuck that, and didn’t go, aside from the industry-/business-types who generally “needed” to go.  Typical Tabacuba / H S.A. thought process though – “Well, people are choosing not to go, because we’re including less stuff and have jacked up the price, so…let’s just jack up the price more, to recoup it from those that have to come?!?!!”  LOL.
  • Reynaldo’s shop at the Conde de Villanueva – smoky as ever.  And the peacocks, with their young growing up, are back to chasing the chickens around, and jumping up in unsuspecting elderly tourists’ laps to eat the mint sprigs out of their mojitos.
  • wrapper leaf still a bit of an issue.  It’s getting better, but the really really nice stuff is still somewhat sparse to find apparently.

More to come on this trip soon.

Cheers all.

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