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Everything posted by Ryan

  1. Something is being said about how much they actually care, or know, when Cuban customs are still using the term "el nivel de acuso", 23 years after it became defunct. The simple rule. Any cigars bought in shops in Cuba, get Facturas and have them ready to show at the airport. As long as you're patient and not greedy, that will cover you for some other stuff.
  2. There will be a lot of re-boxed stuff popping up. That is, new cigars of highly questionable origin, in older boxes. Or just fake boxes. Fakers in Europe, Spain etc., generally put in a little more effort in their fakes than on the beaches in Latin America/Caribbean. For example, I can't remember ever seeing a glass top box that originated in Europe. They may exist but I haven't seen them. I mentioned this before after my trip to Havana in November. The black market has exploded in Cuba. Both of fakes and "side-door" from cigar industry buildings, factories etc. It was always there, but this last trip, after the worst of Covid where even more people living in Cuba had no other means of income, it took off. People who before had a decent income for Cuba, had no real interest in cigars, knew nothing about them, were getting cardboard boxes of unboxed but banded cigars to Canada, Russia, Eastern Europe, Spain etc. Enormous amounts of them. It was in November and probably still is a popular means of income (though the Russian route will probably have slowed). Many of these cigars will have been rolled in factories. Bundles of 25 El Laguito Julieta No. 2 were offered to me in November for $75. When I said I wasn't interested, the price came down to free. There is currently a very risky triple combination of desperate times in Cuba, the worst in 25 years at least, extreme lack of supply of the real thing everywhere and official prices of Cohiba and Trinidad doubling or tripling. I have already made changes to harden up (even more than before) the listing algorithm on Bond Roberts.
  3. More of the same. On the phone yesterday to a friend living there as an ex-pat. Very hard to find bottled water or beer. A nephew of mine was there last month for 10 days. He said it was easier to find a mojito than a bottle of water. The ministry of tourism did put a lot of eggs in one basket regarding regarding Russian tourists last year. And then February..
  4. Sorry I missed this. There was a round of drinks where all participants, in the various locations by video-link, raised a toast. In Kuwait we got sparkling grape juice in that champagne flute. It wasn't bad at all. There are some good drinks for grown-ups in that part of the world without alcohol. It's not all water and Pepsi. Coffee is very good. Hussain took us out for a 12-course lunch on Monday. I had a frozen mango/pomegranate juice drink with a little jug of sparkling lime water on the side to add to the main drink to taste. That was very, very good. The flavour changes as more lime water is added and the frozen fruit dissolves. Just the job when it's 39C and a dust storm outside.
  5. Yes, two formats. A "Premier" edition of a box of 5, a fancy Boîte Nature for the first 50,000 cigars/10,000 boxes. Cigars in those boxes will have special "Premier" bands. After that a varnished box of 10 with separations in the box between each cigar. I've heard rumours of the prices but nothing concrete. Some people in the know don't think it could be priced higher than a Behike 56 at launch, as Behikes are the "pinnacle" of Cohiba, but who knows. Both booze and pork illegal in Kuwait. No exceptions for hotels etc.
  6. Well that's it. There are a couple of reasons. To be honest, there were very few flippers in the audience in Kuwait. There were two retailers at my table. Like me, neither of those guys lit them up and there's a couple of reasons for that. Many smokers like to save a special cigar like this (as yet unreleased) for a quiet time where they can have a bit of peace and quiet in a comfortable spot and enjoy it with a drink or other pairing of their own choice. The room was smoky, loud, with a lot of stuff going on (performances, speeches, conversation etc.) that could interrupt a good cigar. Certainly not a room conducive to concentrating on a rare cigar. I'll be lighting mine up soon when I get home and I'll do a review here. My drink of choice with a cigar is illegal in this country.. Others like to let their cigar rest for a while. Nothing new there. Many retailers will have clients, to be honest often high-end clients, biting their hand off to try something new, especially these days. So they'll pass them on. It's hard for retailers to say no to that. They're in cigars as a business and relationships are important. A very nice guy beside me, a Kuwaiti furniture maker newish to cigars, was going to light his up. He asked me if he should. I told him why not, it was his cigar to enjoy whenever he likes. Someone else told him to wait so he sheepishly put it away again. Personally I think people should light their cigar up whenever they want (in a place where it's legal).
  7. At the Kuwait event, I’d guess around 50% lit one up.
  8. Talking to some Dutch retailers tonight. They say that in their part of the world, an issue with incorrect tax stamps is keeping Cohiba and others off their shelves post price increase.
  9. Landed in this morning from London for some Bond Roberts research. My second time in Kuwait but the first time I’ve ever seen the Apple weather app give the forecast as “Dust”. A nice afternoon of a meaty lunch with Hussain who has the 21 cigar lounge here, Mohammed and some Dutch and Swiss retailers. Nice guys. The event itself hosted by the La Casa del Habano here and great to catch up with so many faces I haven’t been able to see since lockdowns started. I haven’t smoked one of the cigars yet but they are getting good reports. That’s good, given the rumored prices. Breakfast meeting at 8 in the morning. Havana doesn’t have an “8 in the morning”. There’s “8 in the evening” and another 8 later that night. Hussain with a portrait made from cigar bands of Simon Chase at his lounge. I’ve started saving bands for my portrait. “Davidoff-cream” for my head, though maybe “Punch-red” after this trip. IMG_0552.MOV
  10. I think I'm going to be at that too. Which venue are you going to? Kuwait for me.
  11. Street gas in Cuba that comes into stoves, that has an eye-watering stink. Tankered propane, I don't know.
  12. Several floors destroyed. Damage to neighboring buildings. Not much info yet.
  13. Habanos knows that people with the money to spend on Cohibas will travel to where they are available, or have someone travel for them. As they already are. Volumes of Cohiba and Trinidad are low enough that they will all sell, regardless of price and the fact that they will be out of the price range of most current Cohiba and Trinidad smokers. There are enough big buyers. Even if volumes do improve over the next 2-5 years. People who buy Cohiba and Trinidad will be used to the prices by then and buy the increased volume. If there is a glut of tobacco or cigars (hard to see from where we are but who knows), then Habanos can shift into higher volume vitolas, and decrease margin but increase revenue. Habanos knows that the way Cohiba and Trinidad prices are currently, they are leaving money on the table for parallel and secondary sellers. Habanos wants some or most of that money.
  14. Habanos wants to keep the income that parallel and secondary sellers are currently making. That's all. They've done that before. The launch price of the 40th Anniversary Cohiba Behike was 375 euro per cigar, RRP. Within a few years prices doubled, quadrupled, eventually going to 15 times launch price on the secondary market. Habanos got none of that but they watched it happen. Then they launched the 50th anniversary Cohiba Grandioso at 4,000 euro per cigar.
  15. Any prices I have listed are official Spanish prices (primary channel on the Spanish mainland). Changes will most likely be coming everywhere but they are the only hard results I have seen personally yet. Having said that, those increases in Spain might not be related to the latest Habanos announcement. They may be the result of previously planned increases, with the big ones to come in the next few weeks...
  16. I can confirm that some price increases have started in Spain since last Friday. I give Friday's prices and today's. Cohiba Siglo VI, was €31.10, now €37.80, + 21.5% Lancero, 29 - 35.3, about + 20% Robusto, 23.6 - 27.3, about +15.5% Esplendido, 35.9 - 43.6, about +20% Trinidad Fundadores 17 - 17.7 La Trova, 19.40, no change. Esmeralda, 14.3 - 14.9 And the best kept secret in Spain, Ramon Allones Gigantes, 12.40, no change. So no 200% - 300% jump yet but there may be a series of updates.
  17. In an office where I used to work we had a cleaning lady called Jean. Every evening when she came in we'd say "Hi Jean!". She was a cleaning lady. She had a replacement when she went on holiday, her name was Eithne. An Irish name, pronounced "Eth-ne" She became known as "Eithne-cleansing". She was also a cleaning-lady and it was just after the wars in the Balkans. There is a story of a guy in an office who was known as "spider" for years. After years of this name someone asked him how he got the nickname. Apparently one lunchtime he went out and bought 4 pairs of the same jeans. Mexican guys I used to work with called me "Chingalera". I wore it as a badge of honour.
  18. No voting on a Green Card, and citizenship usually takes 5 years after getting that. I was canvassed, 25 years ago, by a representative Joe Moore in an L station in Chicago for 15 minutes until I told him I had no vote as I was on a green card. He took it well. Welcomed me, which was nice. Cubans have an easier time being granted political asylum in the US than people from other Latin American countries, as they are coming from a communist regime and can show evidence of political oppression. It's one of the reasons so many of them are murdered on their way through Nicaragua and Mexico. For their documentation.
  19. That’s funny. Just this morning, I ordered bottles of Spanish red to be delivered in London for a get together next month. Not a rioja but this is the first red wine I can personally remember pairing well with a cigar. It’s why I ordered it.
  20. The Cuba Domadores took part in the World Series of Boxing. A "semi-professional" league in that fighters were paid but were allowed keep amateur status. Boxers didn't wear face protection or shirts. I was at this one in Feb 2015 in Ciudado Depotivo in Havana. Cuba vs Britain. 10 cups entry. I'm not a big boxing fan but, at 10 cups entry, not many Irish people get to see some English people have the stuffing knocked out of them for 40 cents. The Cubans won 4:1. The light-heavyweight fight, Julio Cesar La Cruz vs John Newell, is one of the most entertaining fights I've ever seen. La Cruz had some talent, while showboating a little too much. He had the crowd on their feet, see image under the video. 2:42 - 3:34 for the La Cruz : Newell fight. I didn't have time to have dinner before the start of the competition that night. I can still remember the laughter out of my driver when I suggested I could get a bite to eat at the stadium. He brought me a sandwich for after the show.. Another Cuban boxer, Guillermo Rigondeaux, one of the most talented boxers ever. There's a great story about an Irish boxing manager who, on the advice of Michael Flatley, hired a fishing boat out of Cork, Ireland to go to Cuba and smuggle him out. It couldn't be made up. Entertaining stuff. There was a radio documentary made about this story a few years ago, called 12 Miles. Worth the 30 minutes for anyone with a Cuba/Boxing interest. https://www.rte.ie/radio/doconone/710784-12-miles
  21. I don't know Tomás Marco Dominguez at all but interesting that he is Spanish at least, given the rumours about changes to management in Habanos. I was at a couple of dinners with Oscar Ricote in November and spoke with him a little. At one of the dinners he gave a 15 minute off-the-cuff speech/lecture to a cigar audience of the history of Hoyo de Monterrey. There were some farmers from San Juan y Martinez in the audience. I was talking with tobacco farmer Maximo Perez later that night who knew Oscar well but was extremely impressed by the speech. His depth of knowledge of the brand, including history of the farm, seed types, irrigation methods etc. was extraordinary. I've never seen a lecture, and I've been at a few of these things, where I've seen such depth of knowledge and love of the product and production methods. Out of pure luck, I had some 1977 Hoyo Margaritas with me that night, Oscar Riconte loved his. I think he'll be missed.
  22. My Irish dancing teacher kept a rubber bullet on display in her trophy cabinet. She had been shot with it at a demonstration in Derry. Hardy woman. My French teacher in school was a nazi. Not a "nazi". A Nazi. From Brittany, he joined the SS in 1944 as Hitler promised Brittany independence from France if they helped track down and kill French resistance members, which they did. There were always rumours about him but the truth only really came out after he died. He used to help kids with pronunciation by pressing a sharpened pencil on their tongues to keep them flat while they read from the board. I met a few school friends at a funeral yesterday. We all still have decent French pronunciation. https://m.facebook.com/ThiepvalGalleryBHMT/posts/356868304957017 My father as a 9 year old kid on the farm in 1930 got an ingrown toenail. Doctors were scarce in the area at the time. Vets, less so. When the vet came, three of his brothers held my father down on the kitchen table while the vet used a sheep hoof trimmer to slice the nail up the middle. Then pulled out each half with a pliers. The nail never grew back right. I'm not sure if that vet ever met my French teacher.
  23. Every news source is reporting this. It's the story of the Oscars. I've heard and seen at least 5 different tellings of the story. None of them have commented about what Jada Pinkett-Smith herself thinks about all this. Did she want that reaction from her husband over that joke? Did she feel she needed that kind of "protection"? Having said that, I am seeing the word "thug" used far more often towards Will Smith than it would be towards Kevin Costner or Tom Hanks had they done the slapping.
  24. I don't know about his son. There was a mention on Facebook that family went with him but I don't know which of them.
  25. Not much more to add. Reynaldo as it's usually spelled (Reinaldo as he spells it himself). Another Cuban person many of us know has gone. I can't confirm anything but he is in Cancun now working in the LCDH there with the rumours that he has moved his family over and bought a car (usually a sign of "settling" somewhere) When I was in Havana in November, the Hotel Conde de Villanueva was closed entirely, not just the shop. Again, rumours are that it is still closed. I didn't know him well but he was always very friendly and accommodating. I would wish him the best of luck with any new opportunities. I'll miss seeing him in Havana, I had some great mornings/afternoons in his shop. These Reinaldos were the first custom rolls I ever bought in Cuba, in 2010. I still have some of those. I had no idea how much they were then when I was buying them. The Salomones were $6 each in 2010. Prices never went up very much.

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