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Simon Chase boasts the best British humidor when he speaks of his passion for habanos.

His gift of the gab, his gestures and his incredible erudition when it comes to Cuban tobacco make him an excellent communicator, a virtue that turned him into the auctioneer of the lots of precious collections of the world’s finest hand-rolled cigars many aficionados shell out thousands of dollars, euros or pounds for.

“Besides habanos, I adore the people, the scenery, everything,” he beams.

Habano consultant and marketing expert in the UK and Europe, he writes for prestigious international publications. Mr. Chase roguishly recalls how he grew to become the skilled auctioneer who made half a dozen lots of habanos go under the gavel for $750,000 during his first tenure at the 1999 Festival.

How did you do that, we asked him. “Well, I called a well-known auction house of artworks, Christie’s, and I spoke for 45 minutes with the president, who eventually gave me the main tips.”

Mr. Chase shows a file in which he still cherishes the sheets with the notes he jotted down during that phone lesson.

This time around, he’ll have his big break as a lecturer before the hundreds of participating delegates. What will the topic be?

He cunningly underscores what has so far been a barely tapped issue as he says: “How to tell the age of the habano cases.” That’ll be the topic of his master lecture.

As he puffs on a double corona from Hoyo de Monterrey, Simon Chase is still upbeat about the future of this great passion and delight regardless of the tough restrictions on tobacco consumption in the United Kingdom.

“We take advantage of the Internet and make outdoor tasting sessions,” he adds. “Last year was hard on the product due to the world economic crisis. However, habano sales increased.”

As to the importance of the Festivals and his attending each and every one of them, he pops up a phrase: “It’s the best occasion to gather the entire family of habano aficionados to see one another, talk and enjoy its pleasures.”

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