Chile Wins the Habanosommelier Contest



Chilean sommelier Philip Ili won the ninth edition of the International Habanosommelier Contest, by far one of the major events held within the framework of the 12th Habano Festival, this time around with contesters from Spain, the UAE, UK, Bulgaria, Belgium, Germany and Cuba.

Brazilian editor Cesar Adames, who chaired the contest jury, informed during the festival’s closing that Spain’s Jose Joaquin Cortes and sommelier Nerissa Orinday from the UAE had finished in second and third places.

The habanosommelier trade has been increasingly catching on in recent years thanks to the growing number of aficionados who look for professional advisory when it comes to handpicking a habano.

Philip Ili Barake, Brand Ambassador of Zacapa of Diageo Chile Ltda, win with the combinations Cohiba Siglo VI plus Scottish whisky Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 years and Petit Robusto Hoyo de Monterrey plus brandy Cardenal Mendoza.

Philip Ili –a regular attendant to the Habano Festivals since 2006- is an expert with a Santiago de Chile-based international company that distributes emblematic beverage brands.

He owned up his passion for habanos is so big that “I have already lost two jobs in my country for attending these world events, but I feel happy for being among so many friends, so many lovers of the finest cigars I share this huge pleasure with.”

The current secretary of Chile’s Sommelier Association explained that after finishing his school studies in the 1990s, he’s been actively taking part in workshops and conferences in an effort to step up his professional expertise in the field. He’s now a member of Organizing Committee of the World Sommelier Championship to be held in April with experts from over 50 nations.

A regular smoker of Cuban cigars, he’s also the ambassador to Chile of the Zacapa Rum, “a prestigious Guatemalan product that matches pretty well with habanos, a reason why it’s so highly acclaimed among Chilean smokers, with whom we’ve had several tasting sessions that have turned out with flying colors.”