Torpedoes. The Refinement of Habanos


23/02/2015
By Fernando Fernández Milián

The habano is no doubt one of the driving forces behind the Cuban identity. It’s a coveted product from the deluxe industry, but above all it’s a cultural element hemmed in by a rich history closely linked to the birth of the Cuban nationality.

The interaction with the habano universe reveals a rich and complex globe. Consumption dictates the way the Cuban cigar embraces trade, both in its direct bondage with the customer and right behind the counter, an expression of the hundreds of sale outlets scattered all around the world.

Since the beginning of the hand-rolled cigar industry in the late 17th century, the product started to elbow its way in. To make this happen, a couple of developments took place: the storming of Havana by the British in 1762, which led the Britons to further valuing the character and quality of Cuban hand-rolled cigars; and secondly the lifting of the Tobacco Stock by the Spanish Crown in 1818. Both events boosted up Cuba’s then fledgling tobacco industry.

The ways of consuming tobacco were introduced in other geographical areas, including North America. That marked the beginning of what later on was known as the manufacturing of the world’s finest cigars. The proliferation of mom-and-pop stores with different habano brands and the emergence of the big-time brands actually came to pass in the second half of the 19th century.

The first ways of manufacturing hand-rolled cigars were known in Spain in the 18th century. A century later, the making of torpedo habanos commenced, so called for its tapered tips as compared to regular cigars that are mostly even from one end to the other. Thus, hand-rolled cigars were headed for glory and the torpedo stood out as the figure that dictated consumption manners in that period of time. This could be either a single or double torpedo. Let’s start with the double torpedo, the first to ever make its pedigree prevail.

THE DOUBLE TORPEDO

In the tobacco industry’s jargon, a vitola has two ways of being labeled on the basis of the end hand-rolling format: torpedo or parejo (even). With the development of the famed cigar factories, the torpedo was the latest voguish trend, with the double torpedo also being all the rage at the time.

This lineup is made up of the Diadema, Dulcineas and Salomones. The Diadema is the largest habano in this realm, with a 55 ring gauge and 233 mm long, while the Salomon is a 57 ring gauge and 184 mm long. The Exclusivos (ring gauge 46 x 132 mm long) reached their pinnacle in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. These formats showed up in such brands as Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey, La Escepcion, Sancho Panza, Cuaba and Partagas, though the two latter are the only ones that still have the Salomon.

In the early decades of the 20th century, the double torpedo started losing steam, eventually giving way to the prevalence of the even habanos. However, just another torpedo style began catching on: the Piramide (Pyramid), popularly known as torpedoes. That opened up the new era of the authentic torpedoes.

As a reflection of that belle epoch, Habanos rolled out the Cuaba brand back in 1996, thus recapturing the spirit of the late 19th century. It was originally launched in five vitolas: Distinguidos, Exclusivos, Divinos, Generosos and Tradicionales, all designed for smokers who crave the old ways.

In 2002, Cuaba added the Diadema and the Salomon in a bid to beef up the brand with the class and distinction these vitolas ooze out. In 2008, the Piramide climbed onstage in that year’s Limited Edition.

Other than Cuaba, only Partagas sticks to its celebrated Salomon. One of the peculiarities –in addition to the Culebra- is the highly personal double torpedo called Presidente, a factory “taco” featuring a 47 ring gauge and 158 mm long.

When puffing on a double torpedo, the smoker must bear in mind its peculiar taste in the early draws, defined by its binder and wrapper. The true essence reveals itself when the smoker reaches the habano’s thickest part.

The Belicosas Campanas: The Piramide’s Younger Brother

The Campana is for sure the shortest torpedo in this elegant family. The four-vitola pack consists of 52 ring gauge and 140 mm long cigars. Three of them are tagged with the common trade names: Belicosos for Romeo y Julieta, and Sancho Panza and Belicoso Fino for Bolívar, featuring a tapered end in the shape of a bell of San Cristobal de La Habana. Wrapping things up in this segment with a one-and-only format, the Regata, a Forum-style factory vitola from Montecristo Open, shows off a 46 ring gauge and 135 mm long.

Last but not least, the Petit Belicoso from Bolívar hit the market as a Limited Edition back in 2008. This amazingly small giant fancily closes the torpedo saga.

Those extraordinary vitolas surrounded by a centennial atmosphere also single out the genuine and noticeable elegance of these habanos.

 

 

THE PIRAMIDE: THE BEST KNOWN OF ALL

Torpedoes got a second wind in the 20th century as the Piramides (ring gauge 50 x 156 mm long) and its younger sibling Campana (ring gauge 52 x 140 mm long) grew stronger. For the Piramide, five brands are represented in the Habanos portfolio with a vast and diverse aromatic-tasting assortment.

The Piramide is an amazing habano that keeps burning for approximately a full hour. Many see it as a vitola with an edge in terms of appreciation and burning. Designed for the connoisseur, the Piramide is demanding, intense and enjoyable for a mighty long time.

The list of habano brands that feature Piramides is topped by the award-winning Montecristo No. 2, closely followed by H. Upmann No. 2, both of them boasting Reserves that are generally presented during the Habano Festival’s gala dinner. Commemorative within those brands, the lineup is rounded out by the Unicos from Robaina, and the Diplomatico No. 2 and the Series P No.2 from Partagas. One peculiar member of this format is the Petit No. 2 from Montecristo, a factory petit torpedo with a 52 ring gauge and 120 mm long.

Other formats in this segment are the Muralla de San Cristóbal, a mega Piramide with a 54 ring gauge and 180 mm of length, and the Piramide Extra from Cohíba, the very last borderline within the Piramides, featuring a 54 ring gauge and 156 mm long, that was unveiled to the market in 2012.

And speaking of the Cohiba, this has been the habano brand with this torpedo has represented the most after showing up in the Reserva del Milenio and the 2001 Limited Edition.

 

Finally, the 2012 Limited Edition launched the Short Piramide from Hoyo de Monterrey, quite an enthralling habano.