Cuba - and Where tobacco is grown
Few things in the world are known to be the best of their kind, a Habano – or Havana cigar is one of them.
The heart of a Cuban cigar is in the tobacco and its taste. Other countries may have acquired or copied Cuban skills and Cuban seeds, but they can never copy the natural gifts of the Cuban soil and the Cuban climate. Combined with the centuries-old culture and knowledge of cultivating tobacco and making cigars, Cuban cigars remain the benchmark for excellence.
As a great wine is defined by its vineyard, a Cuban cigar is defined by the land where the tobacco is grown. The locations for growing Habanos tobacco are strictly limited to certain regions of Cuba and within those regions, only a small number of farms are selected for the exceptional quality of their soil and microclimate, and their skills in growing tobacco.
The finest cigar tobacco-growing land in the world and the main source of tobacco for Habanos. The only region that grows all types of tobacco leaves, but only less than a quarter of the area has the status to grow tobacco for Habanos.
The other tobacco region in the west of Cuba, where barely one percent of the tobacco growing land is used for producing Habanos binder and filler leaves. It also has good soil for producing seeds.
This area specializes in the cultivation of wrapper leaves, and has been growing tobacco since the early 17th Century.
Cuba's largest and oldest tobacco producing zone, and part of the area is for growing leaves for the Jose L Piedra and Guantanamera cigars.
Since the 16th Century, the tobaccos that were grown in Cuba had established an unrivalled reputation throughout the world.
Then, at the start of the 20th Century as a new age of botanical research dawned, science was brought to bear on the many different seed varieties in use at the time for the growing of Tabaco Negro Cubano.
The goals of the botanist would be the identification of the original seed’s characteristics that delivered the classic Cuban taste and to find varieties resistant to the many diseases that plagued the farmers.
In the year 1941, Criollo was introduced and remains the basis of all the seeds permitted for the growing of Habano tobacco. Soon afterwards Criollo itself was developed to create a variety called Corojo, bred especially for the growing of wrapper leaves and named after the famous plantation where it was tested.
Today Cuba’s tobacco regions are served by four Tobacco Research Stations which together control all of the seed that the farmers use and continue to preserve and perfect the essence of the only true Cuban seed - Tabaco Negro Cubano.
There are two distinct forms of cultivation that we need to produce the different types of leaf required.
The filler and binders leaves are grown in the open where they can enjoy the full benefits of the Cuban sun so that they can develop the glorious variety of flavors that enable to form the rich and complex taste of a prefer Habano.
Meanwhile, the wrapper leaved will need to be grown in the tapado (shade-grown) fields where they are covered by a Muslin cloth. These cover filter the sunlight and traps the heat so that the leaves are able to grow larger and finer.
The start of the cultivation of the tobacco plants would be from the month of June and July. Different fields would be planted at different times so that the burden of work is spread in each season.
The time for the shade-grown plants (tapado) from planting the seeds to harvest takes 17 weeks and for the sun-grown plants it takes 16 weeks.
First of all the tobacco plants need to be planted in the loosest possible soil, so the fields are thoroughly ploughed before the planting started. Then the seedling can either be grown in special seedbeds covered with straw or in the floating polystyrene seed containers sheltered inside the plastic clad ‘tunnels’.
And after 45 days, the seedlings are ready to be planted out once they reach the height of 13-15cm. This process is called ‘Aporque’ would take place after 20 days to promote the development of the roots.
The top bud of the plant is removed once they reach the desired height so that they can cause the explosion of the side shoots to develop larger leaves. The farmers must make repeated visits to remove it.
The harvest begins after 40 days of planting, but harvesting a single plant would take up to 30 days to complete.
The leaves are picked up at intervals from the bottom up where they are allowed time to develop its remaining leaves. The shade-grown plants require more time as they are taller with more leaves.
After the shade-grown and sun-grown leaves are harvested, they would undergo the process of air curing, fermentation, moistening and airing, sorting and classification, resting and baling and finally aging in the warehouse.
The Air Curing is where the leaves are sewn in pairs and hung on the astride poles that would be placed on the racks in the barn. The ventilation and the light must be monitored so that it can remove the moisture and turn the leaves from bright green to golden brown.
Fermentation would take place after that,however wrappers leaves only need to go through the fermentation once. But for the filler and binders they need to go through three times of the fermentation stage. Fermentation is the process where leaf’s impurities are eliminated and its acidity, tar and nicotine contents are reduced.
After that, the leaves are moistened and aired so that they are ready for handling. They are sorted into classes, for the wrappers they are sorted into 50 categories so that the best wrapper would be used to wrap a good Habano. And as for the fillers and binders, they are sorted based on their flavor in the blenders: medio tiempo, ligero, seco and volado.
And lastly they are packed into bales, which are labeled with information about the leaves within including their sizes, the year of harvest and the date of the packing. They are then transferred to the warehouse where they are left to age.
The tools used by a Torcedores or Torcedoras (women) for rolling a cigar are: tabla, chaveta, casquillo, guillotine, goma and cepo.
Dear Cigar Aficionados and Customers,
Counterfeit Cuban cigars in Macau and Hong Kong
Lately we have been made aware of counterfeit Cuban cigars being sold in retail stores in Macau and in Hong Kong. Having purchased some boxes, at first glance it is hard to tell whether they are genuine or counterfeit, especially as these outlets also sell what appears to be a genuine cigar. However, after reviewing the boxes and cigars, we can see various differences as the attached pictures show. The specific cigars identified were Cohiba Siglo and Maduro, but we are of course unable to check all the other cigars in these outlets.
What these outlets and cigars have in common is that the actual bar code at the end of the Cuban Government Seal has been removed or is non-existent. The bar code can be used to check that the cigars are genuine, and Habanos S.A. can also use the code to trace where the cigars were supplied. Therefore the bar code is either “removed” because the cigars are actually counterfeit or the outlet wants to conceal the origin of where the cigars were imported.
In any case, we strongly recommend that you only buy cigars in packaging with the bar code intact as this allows you to verify that the cigars are genuine by going to the Habanos website (www.habanos.com). Furthermore if the packaging has The Pacific Cigar Company Limited seal, you know that the boxes are coming from our company.
We are currently investigating if these outlets are selling other counterfeit cigars, and will of course keep you informed. In addition we are aware that companies in Mainland China are actually selling branded empty boxes and tubes for “Cuban cigars”, and these companies are not supplying Habanos S.A..Therefore we advise you to be cautious when buying Cuban cigars and check that the packaging has not been tampered with, especially when buying the Cohiba brand.
Should you have any doubts or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Before 2009 Cuban Government Warranty Seal
The Cuban Government Warranty Seal, was first introduced in 1889 by the Royal Decree of the King of Spain. In 1912, the independent Cuban Government authorized the use of a new design. It was modified slightly in 1931 and more radically in 1999, with the addition of a red serial number and an emblem that is visible only under ultra-violet light. This seal appears on all Habanos cigars.
New Cuban Government Warranty Seal
From 2009, a new Warranty Seal will be gradually introduced in all the packaging where two new elements are to be added. On the right hand, a hologram as a security item will be added and on the left hand, next to the Coted´ Arms, a bar code will personalize every package.
This label will always be placed from the upper left side of the box or display, leaving 3 to 6 mm from the edge and to be bending up to the front right over the center of the Coted´Arms whenever possible.
This Seal has been developed through a base of synthetic paper with special characteristics such as an auto-destructive feature before any attempts of removal and with several maximum security techniques added.
◆Non-transferred label. Any attempt to remove it, will cause invalidation of the seal by self destruction.
◆ Highly adherence of the paper (plastic) Auto-destructive, Self-destructive
◆Scan and Photocopy Protected System
◆The holographic band will show a bicolor text in 2nd and 3rd dimension,
◆Elements with optical variations attached.
◆Also it will enclose a micro dot only visible through laser scanner.
On the other hand, a unique bar code will be applied on every single box thus customizing every packaging. This information will be saved in a data base allowing the identification of this product everywhere, whom this product was addressed to as well as the Invoice number, amongst other details. The bar code can also verify the authenticity of the box through the Habanos website (www.habanos.com). Without the bar code, it would be hard to determine it's authenticity.
The fact is that there will always be a time in which both old and new Warranty Seals designs will exist at the same time in the markets. The length of time in which the two seals will coexist is not so easy to foresee because it depends on the stocks and on the rotation of the different products
Since 1960, the bottom of all Habanos boxes have been hot-stamped with the words "HECHO EN CUBA" (Made inCuba). Since 1994, all boxes have also been hot stamped with "Habanos s.a."
Since 1989, boxes of classic long-filler Habanos cigars have been hot-stamped with the words "Totalmente a mano" (Totally by hand)
Boxes of short-filler Habanos cigars are also hot-stamped with the words "Totalmente a mano" and since 2002 ink stamped with the letters TC (Tripa Corta – Short Filler)
Machine-made cigars are stamped only with the words "Habanos s.a." and "Hecho en Cuba"on the box.
Since 1994, all boxes have carried the Habanos seal as a mark of the cigars' denomination of origin. No box of Habanos cigars is shipped from Cuba without it.
Factory Code and box date
There are, in addition, two ink-stamps on the bottom of Habanos boxes. One is a confidential code that tells which factory the cigars are made.
The other is the month and the year they are boxed. The dates are not in code and the year is simple enough. The system started in 2000 with "00", then "01" and so on.
However, unless you know a bit of Spanish, the months are a bit more complicated
From 1985 to 1999,both the factory and date were in code. If you want to check the date of a box within that period, please contact The Pacific Cigar Company Limited.
The Pacific Cigar Company Limited(PCC) Quality and Authenticity Seal
Once the cigars arrive at our bonded warehouse, our staff will carry out a further control by spot-checking boxes from different master cases. In addition we will apply The Pacific Cigar Company Limited - Guaranteed Genuine seal. This seal can neither be peeled off in one piece nor can it be transferred to another box. All cigars supplied by PCC in Asia Pacific have this seal. If a box of Habanos cigars purchased in Asia Pacific does not have this seal, it has been imported through alternative channels and neither Habanos nor PCC can guarantee the authenticity of the cigars. In Japan and Malaysia we started putting such seals on the boxes in 2005.
Before 2005, PCC used another seal, and you can still find boxes with this seal in various outlets.
Some of our sub-distributors will, in addition, put their own seal on their boxes;
Authenticity Seals From Japan