Remember my friend James? He’s the strange Brit who I’ve bumped into a couple of times on the plane into Cuba. Nice chap, looks like the Tom Hiddleston character in the Night Manager. Probably a spook.
Well last week was the 18th Habanos Cigar Festival in Havana and I bumped into James at the gala dinner. It was cigar paradise, and very very smoky.
We got chatting about the state of this year’s crop.
Cuban tobacco growers have had a difficult couple of years. A good tobacco year is when the cool months of January, February and March are rain free. But last year there was a drought and this year it was raining cats and dogs, when it was supposed to be the cool and dry.
But despite the bad weather, sales of Cuban hand-rolled cigars are on the up worldwide. Cuba makes 100 million cigars a year and there’s no shortage of demand.
The Unites States is the world’s largest cigar market, but because of the trade embargo, it can’t import Cuban cigars. So the improving relations with the US has producers eyeing up more profits. As and when the US embargo is lifted the market for Cuban cigars is going to skyrocket.
James briefed me on a rumour about a secret stash of 45 million cigars. Apparently this stash has been squirrelled away ready for the day that the embargo is lifted. It’s guarded by an elite unit of the Cuban military, and only 8 people know about it. Well a few more than that, now.
Well it might make sense. Good Cuban tobacco leaf doesn’t go off, and it actually gets better with age if stored correctly.
It’s not just the Americans who love a good cigar. David Tang was in town (my company InCloud9 hosted a party for him and 200 guests). He owns the Pacific Cigar Company, and exports 10 million a year to Asia. And my mate Gordon Mott, editor of Cigar Aficionado, introduced me to Max the Mexican cigar distributor. Same story – they simply can’t get enough.
I’d love to get may hands on those 45 million Cuban cigars. Would be a great investment. And also you just know there’ll be some fantastic mellow smokes in there.
So, James, time for an answer. Where’s that secret stash?