Roll up for Cuba’s finest – only £233 a smoke
Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent
Monday October 23, 2006
A box of Cohiba Behike cigars on show in Madrid
A box of Cohiba Behike cigars on show in Madrid. Photograph: Pedro
What have been billed as the world’s most expensive cigars, a limited
edition from the hands of one of Cuba’s most famous rollers, have gone
on sale at £233 each.
The Cohiba Behike, named after a tribal chief of Cuba’s indigenous Taino
tribe, was launched last week to mark the 40th anniversary of the Cohiba
Just 4,000 have been rolled and they come in boxes of 40, which are sold
at £9,320. The humidors, made of ebony, cedar, sycamore, nacre and
ox-bones, are numbered and bear a plaque on which the buyer’s name is
Ordinary hand-rolled cigars are available from £1.60 and “super
premiums” can cost £8.
The maker, Habana SA, justified the Cohiba Behike’s price by saying each
was rolled by Norma Fernandez, one of its most experienced rollers, or
torcedoras, at the El Laguito factory in Havana.
“I’ve been doing this for 39 years but I still love it,” she told
reporters last week. Seedlings were selected from plantations in the
Vueltabajo region of Pinar del Río province, home to venerable tobacco
growers, and Ms Fernandez decided which blend to use. “But I’m not going
to reveal the formula,” she said.
The brand was launched in Spain last week by Altadis, a Franco-German
importer of Cuban cigars. Apart from the testers at El Laguito, it was
not clear if anybody has actually smoked one.
With just 100 boxes available, the Cohiba Behike will be sold through
dealers rather than shops.
The irony of a communist-run state exporting a symbol of capitalist
luxury has been often noted. Fidel Castro gave up cigars on health
grounds in 1985 but that has not inhibited thriving exports from the