The Habanos Portfolio: A Successful Decision

By Ph. D Luis Sorinas

Strength, flavors, smells, sizes, smoking time, harmony; all that and more cross a sommelier’s mind every time he has to recommend a Habano to a customer. That’s why, having a portfolio of Habanos is a tool that will lead the customer to making the right decision on the basis of good taste, the knowledge of the artists and the characteristics of each brand.

The habano, as a changing character through three thirds of its short burning life,  provides intense moments of pleasure to any human being.

What cannot be missing in the Habanos portfolio? What elements should develop? Which vitola to handpick as an emblematic hallmark of the brands and which of them can be discussed? These are questions that take time and meditation before being answered.

In every Habano portfolio, the world-class brands and vitolas must be in. Not all of them, but those that based on style and intensity do make the difference.

We suggest first Hoyo de Montecristo, which has a mild, creamy and sweet style with its light notes of old wood, wild flowers, fruit flesh and fresh tobacco, all of them woven in harmony.

Then we suggest H. Upmann with its clean and powerful style prevailing its taste of tobacco over the vegetal flavor, of dry tropical fruits, fresh wood and white pepper. Its puff is deep and its strength goes from soft to mild.

We cannot miss San Cristobal de La Habana with its soft style with a mix of honey, cedar and American oak flavors that keeps the tobacco flavor while smoking, with taste of black dry pepper.

There’s also Romeo y Julieta, one of the best hallmarks, with its robust and complex flavors. Its perfect mix is known for its flower, wood, nuts, cocoa, fresh coffee and vanilla flower flavors. All of them, along with a strong tobacco flavor, give great pleasure to the taste.

Another jewel is Trinidad, with its woody style and sweet taste of dry fruits-coffee and toasted cocoa- which taste lasts long and gives tobacco flavor.

It will be interesting to include Vegas Robaina in the Habano portfolio with its unique style and an elegant mix of dry nuts, white pepper, earth honey and dry tobacco flavors. Its puff is wide and its strength goes from mild to strong.

There’s also a place for well known hallmarks in the portfolio, as Montecristo which conquers all kind of clients with its dry and fruity flavor, with some slight coffee, dry cocoa, chocolate and dry vanilla flavors too. It’s strength goes from mild to strong.

Almost in the end of this luxury portfolio we suggest Partagas, with its unique and unmistakable style, strong and powerful during the whole puff, and with its intense earthy and black tobacco flavors.

Talking about Habanos portfolio, the queen and preferred of all habano lovers, Cohiba, cannot be missing. Its herb and creamy style lasts during the puff with its intense vanilla, coffee and cocoa flavors. It has a perfect balance between its smell and taste, which will not abandon us even after smoking.

It is advisable the presence of habanos parejos and mono figurados in the portfolio we are going to present. Expert smokers and sommeliers will enjoy different sizes and puffs of different intensity.

It is necessary to remember that since 1988 in Cuba, cradle of Habanos, the dimensions of the vitolas are standardized in the factories. It means that a galera vitola is going to be different only regarding its format, which responds to every hallmark.

That is why the habanos are named in the galera differently, regarding to its format or vitola, and not with the name of the hallmark, which is the one used to sell it in the market. For example galera vitola Mareva, which is sold with different formats, as it happens with Romeo y Julieta, whose galera vitola is Romeo number 2, while Montecristo´s galera vitola is Montecristo number 4 and Chiba 1492, is Siglo II.

Another detail to take into account is how long the habano lasts once it’s lighted (see the table) regarding the different vitolas presented in the portfolio.

This information is very important for the sommelier and for the client regarding the important role of the time for both actors in this magic union, although is the second, without contradicting the wishes of the smoker, who suggests what should accompany the puff of each the habano in the portfolio.