2013 Habano Awards


The winners in the Production, Business and Communication categories were announced during the Gala Dinner that brought the 16th Habano Festival to a close

One of the most anticipated moments at the closing of the 16th Habano Festival was the announcement of the 2013 Habano Award winners in the Production, Business and Communication categories.

Master blender from the Partagas cigar factory, Arnaldo Bichot, grabbed top honors in the Production category. With 60 years of experience under his belt, he’s masterminded the blends for the Partagas Series, Reserves and Grand Reserves.

Other nominees were Alexis Benitez Toledo, a tobacco planter from San Luis in Vuelta Abajo, who has harvested quality leaves through the use of sustainable techniques, as well as Juan Jose Lopez Freire, with the Tobacco Research Institute and founding member of the National Cigar Tasting Commission.

In the Business category, the winner was Urs Portman, owner of three major habano stores in Switzerland and Lichtenstein that have tabbed solid sales in recent years. That prize was also up for grabs for Rodolfo Velasco, former director general of IEPT Mexico, who opened the first Casa del Habano outside Cuba, and George Fereos, under-distributor of Habanos S.A. in Cyprus, who has managed to achieve large sales of habanos in that market amid the ongoing economic crisis.

In the Communication category, the award went to Ben Vinken, publisher of the El Gusto magazine, put out and distributed in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg since 2007. He’s also cofounder of the Ambers Habano Smokers’ Club.

The other contesters for the award in that category were Alexandre Avellar, sommelier and founder of Conexao Tabaco, a website that promotes the habano culture in Brazil, and Gary Heathcott, a columnist, lecturer and contributing writer with different international media groups, such as Smoke and the Tobacco Journal International, both engaged in the promotion of habanos and Cuban culture.

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