Havana is the capital city of Cuba, as well as a port and major centre of commerce. It is also a byword for the world renowned Cuban cigars, considered by many to be the finest on the market. Production is controlled by the government, largely via the company ‘Cubatabaco’, and the tobacco leaves used are cultivated throughout the country. There are various techniques involved in the hand rolling of cigars, and the workers who perform this task – known as ‘torcedores’ – are usually considered to be the gold standard in the industry. Since 1994, a second company called Habanos S.A. has overseen all aspects involving export and distribution abroad of the cigars. This company also introduced the annual ‘Habanos Cigar Festival’ in 1997, which includes tours of factories and plantations, tastings, lectures and seminars, and master classes in the art of rolling a cigar.
The smoking of cigars has traditionally been perceived as a masculine act, with connotations of wealth and gravitas. In keeping with our story, perhaps Rudyard Kipling is worth quoting; he once said, “A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke”.