Havana Trip, Nov 2015: Booze and Cigars for Sale…

Yet again, some unique items were available in Havana when we went down for the Encuentros Partagas back during this past November…

First thing I noticed was the Isla del Tesoro rum. A fairly unique and usually hard-to-find rum, the presentation on this is just awesome. Looking like an old rum pottery cask, and in a miniature pirate’s chest with a little treasure map, it definitely has its targets set on the swashbuckler-at-heart crowd – $650 CUC for a 700 mL bottle.

Compared to usually not seeing this around the island and/or city at all, nearly every bar or hotel had at least one of these available, with a number of spots having at least four or five on display (so who knows how many extra were hiding around).

Haven’t tried it, so can’t speak as to its overall value-per-cost, but I do remember it being scarce to see before, and a number of people begrudging that.

So, lots of that around again…

Then there’s the Havana Club 15 Year Gran Reserva.  This one I DID indulge in.  At $150 CUC for a 700 mL bottle, it’s a bit more palatable than the Isla del Tesoro stuff.  But, at only $22 CUC a pour, it wasn’t too unfathomable to even try.

Smooth, lovely nectar.  LOTS of fresh tobacco and leather tones to this rum, it has that oh-so-typical-and-a-bit-unfortunate aspect of HC Anejo 7 Anos which is that slightly acrid and harsh bite to the flavour profile.  That said, the thicker viscosity of this rum, mixed with the more caramel and berry-laden profile, makes it a DEFINITE hit to sip with a Cuban habanos.

So, it’s a tinge better than HC Barrel Proof / Seleccion de Maestros.  Not as hot (just the normal 40% alc/vol), but a bit smoother and mellower.  That said, at $150 CUC, not my cuppa tea.  It’s not even quite as nice as the Santiago 11 year or Santiago 12, both of which I had pours of at different cigar spots later on that same day.  With the HC SdM being $40 CUC or so, and then the Santiago 11 being $60 I think it was, the HC 15 Year Gran Reserva would do better to be $100 or $120 CUC maximum.  I’m sure it will still sell quite heavily, but frankly, it just doesn’t seem as good a rum.  Prices being what they are, the Santiago 11 or 12 and then the HC SdM comes out leaps and bounds ahead.

I still readily enjoyed my rum that day though…

The LCDH at the Habana Libre hotel also had their usual unique offerings.  Generally, various LCDH shops can get special “limited edition” humidors done, and these are sometimes specifically set out for display purposes for the Encuentros Partagas in November or the Festival Habanos in February/March.  Not too many hotels/LCDH’s take part in these offerings that frequently, as they need time to get them done, cost issues, space to house them in-store, high-traffic needs for sales to make it a worthwhile venture, etc., etc.  However, along with the Partagas LCDH and occasionally the Nacional, the Habana Libre LCDH always seems to have something special in stock, and this past November was the same.

Their thing this year was a black Cohiba fold-out custom humidor line, as well as two round wooden-humidor smaller humidor “pillars”.  The black Cohiba one was actually very beautiful, in that it had amazingly flawless construction, and the matte black finish really made it stand out.  It contained a 25-bundle of H. Upmann EL 2015 Magnum 56’s, as well as 16 sticks of the Romeo y Julieta Cedros de Luxe LCDH release (for a total of 41 sticks), was in a “limited release” numbered series of 60 humidors, and was selling for $922.20 CUC.

The two round “pillar” humidors each were in a numbered/plated series of 80, and were identical except for the contents – one line contained 23 sticks (que???) of the Mag 56 ELs, at a price of $566.20 CUC, and the other line contained 28 sticks (I know, huh?!?!!?) of Cohiba Siglo VIs, at a price of $797.60 CUC.  For reference sake, a “normal” box of Mag 56 ELs is expected to have a NORMAL Cuban retail price of $520 CUC, and the Siglo VIs are only $490 CUC.  Boy – that sure is a lot of money to pay extra, in the per-stick cost, for a little wood cabinet!

Also in the cigar category, I didn’t see the newer H. Upmann EL 2015 Magnum 56’s the entire time (aside from included in those “special” Habana Libre humidors).  But then, on leaving the island and going through the Varadero airport’s various duty-free shops, they had a mastercase there, and were starting an unboxing to stock their shelves.

Not surprisingly, the normal customer base of those shops couldn’t care less – it was all about questions of Guantanemeras, RyJ and Cohiba tubos, and the like…

And lastly, also at the Varadero airport’s duty-free shops, and even though I didn’t really see it anywhere else on the island during the week, the airport shops had LOADS of Legendario, especially of a couple additional product lines…

Cheers all.

One thought on “Havana Trip, Nov 2015: Booze and Cigars for Sale…”

  1. Hey, Keith, how are you?

    I could see the humis in Habana Libre the first time I went there, I guess it was Saturday or Sunday before Encuentros. When I returned there on Wednesday they were gone. Maybe someone in FoH got them.
    The box of Mag 56 LE wouldnt be $345?
    I could see some sticks to be sold there too (I think you wrote about them in another post too).

    Take care


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