TOBACCO INTERNATIONAL

TI JanFeb2016 • TPI Q1

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Tobacco Products International TPI 15 cigars with some of the world's finest alcoholic beverages. In honor of Cohiba's 50 th Anniversary, the sommeliers will pair their chosen beverages exclusively with Cohiba cigars. The Old Tobacco and Wood Warehouse at the Port of Havana will host the welcome party on Monday evening, which will be dedicated to the greatly heralded Hoyo de Monterrey Reserva Epicure No. 2 Cosecha 2012 cigars. O n T u e s d a y , t h e p a r t y m o v e s s o u t h w e s t to the famous Vuelta Abajo Plantations in the Pinar del Rio region. For lovers of these mystical and aromatic plants, this adventure will be worth the price of the entire week. The grand tour around the plantations, the tobacco houses and drying sites reveal a side of the industry only seen by a most discrimi- nating and fortunate few. Consider this: Cuba grows nearly one-third of all loose dark tobacco produced in the world. Most experts con- sider Cuba's crop to be the best on planet earth, especially considering that 100 percent of its components are made exclusively in the tiny Latin country. Festival guests get the opportunity to learn how much scientific research goes into supporting these wildly popular products. Day three marks the opening of the International Seminars and Lectures. The festival includes an interactive presentation on the marriage of fine beverages along with stylish epicu- rean delights, both paired with Cuban cigars. The lectures will cover the art of hand-rolling cigars, during which the audience will help roll a Double Figurado. Wednesday evening will be dedicated to the famous Habanos rollers as a well-earned homage to the men and women who create each and every Cuban cigar, by not only their hands, but also with their heart and soul. One of the most popular events takes place on Thursday, as the morning is set aside for a factory tour. In keeping with the 50-year Cohiba anniversary theme, El Laguito factory has been designated to host the tour this year. El Laguito is the original and exclusive location for the production of all Cohiba products. Afternoon lectures and the Longest Ash Contest will follow back at the Convention Center. T h e t r a d e s h o w a n d l e c - tures are the real nitty gritty to the Habanos Festival, and Friday brings the finale to those events including the last stage of the Habanosommelier com- petition and announcement of the cham- pion, along with other award winners. The evening's all-star Gala closes out the nearly week-long celebration and Cohiba's half-cen- tury anniversary remains the theme. It's a black tie affair that includes a gourmet meal, fine wines and rum, presenta- tions of new cigar releases, world-class entertainment, a live auction supporting Cuba's Public Health system and the announcement of the Habanos Man of the Year in three categories. In 2016, Gary Heathcott of Little Rock, Arkansas was the first-ever American winner for Communications. The Gala is the signature event of the festival and always attracts major celebrities from around the world. Cigars are one of Cuba's most important exports, gen- erating millions in revenues on an annual basis. More than 300 sizes and shapes are created under 34 brands. Cuba sells its most famous natural resource to more than 120 coun- tries on all five continents, with Europe purchasing two-thirds of the cigar exports. Because of the 54-year trade embargo, the United States has been the only country in the world that pre- vented Cuban cigars to legally enter its borders. While the embargo is still in place, with an act of the US Congress as the only way to change it, recent developments and exec- utive actions from the Obama administration have loos- ened many of the restrictions placed upon Americans. One of those new actions now allows Americans traveling from Cuba to bring back up to $100 in Cuban goods. The number of cigars one can legally bring back into the U.S. will depend on whether one's purchase includes the highest-priced Cohiba Behike cigars or perhaps some- thing along the lines of the more affordably priced coro- na-size Montecristo #4's. TPI Habanosommelier winners at an earlier festival. Yes, all three are scheduled to return for the 2016 Habanos Festival.

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