The Cuban capital is once again hosting the great meeting of Habano lovers, a gathering that keeps very much alive the spirit of celebration and homage to a one-and-only product from this island nation, created to pry into the secrets of a tradition that has lived out dearly for centuries. Over 1,000 attendants from more than 80 countries are now in Havana, lured once again by the enthralling world of habano, huddling for an event that has turned out to be the best mouthpiece of this product’s excellence and quality and a place of choice to share views among aficionados and salespeople from around the globe. The weeklong meeting –a promising occasion for the ultimate smoke– underscores Cuba’s undisputed leadership and tradition in the making and sale of premium cigars and opens up quite an opportunity for the exclusive enjoyment of some new products, the Special and Limited editions that Habanos, S.A. is launching in 2010. With a peculiar touch of glamour and classiness, the Festival puts the habano back in the limelight as a token of elegance, tradition and good craftsmanship that has for centuries enthralled men and women alike. This time around, there will be some very special moments, like the exclusive concert by multi-Grammy-Award winner Chucho Valdes and the launch of Cohiba’s Behike Line, a superbly special item Habanos, S.A. has been working hard on for a number of years. The Tradeshow, the visits to cigar factories and tobacco plantations, workshops and master lectures will increase the event’s interest in revealing some of the secrets that shroud this Cuban-made product, let alone the possibility of reveling in its unique aroma, taste and texture. Women and their decisive role in the making of habanos will be centerpieces in this 12th edition of the festival, featuring a special night and the launch of the Julieta vitola, by Romeo y Julieta, just another flagship brand that will also add the Wide Churchills vitola to its portfolio. The Closing Gala slated for Friday, Feb. 26, will triumphantly bring the Festival to a close with the presentation of the Cohiba’s Behike Line, the most exclusive and selective Habanos has ever rolled out into the market, and the traditional Grand Humidor Auction, thus extending the invitation for the 2011 event.

José Carlos de Santiago