February 27, 2013 — The XV Habanos Festival has started, a must-go event which every year brings together Habano aficionados from more than 70 countries, as well as international personalities who love the best tobacco in the world. All of them will experience the main launches that Habanos, s.a. presents in 2013, and enjoy the wide-ranging programme offered by the Festival until Saturday 2nd March.
Those attending the XV Habanos Festival this year include music, and gastronomy personalities: the former number-one tennis player in the world, Boris Becker; NBA star Gary Payton; Italian tenor Darío Balzanelli, widely regarded as Luciano Pavarotti’s successor, who, together with the legendary Cuban singer Omara Portuondo, will act in the Gala Evening. Avant-garde Croatian chefs Grgur Baksic, Zoran Simunic, and Pantelija Pekic, members of Gastronomadi, will present their high cuisine creations, made using the best tobacco in the world. They may be sampled during the Cooking Show “Tobacco and Gastronomy” that will take place during the Festival. The Alliance between Habanos and Rioja, with a selection of the best pairings between both Denominations of Origin, will be another high point of the Festival.
The historical Morro Fortress will be today the exceptional stage for the Welcoming Evening. Attendees will be able to sample, exclusively during this night, the new vitolas in the Montecristo permanent range. The first one, Petit No.2, enriches the historic Línea Clásica after many years’ wait, and make it possible to enjoy all the Montecristo flavour in less time, thanks to its innovative figurado -tapered at one end-format. Double Edmundo is the second launch of the brand, offering a larger Habano vitola to enjoy the aromas and flavours of the classic Línea Edmundo in a smoking time of approximately one hour. Both vitolas will carry the new brand band, in line with its simplicity and elegance.
On Thursday 28th February the Vegueros Evening will be held – a very special meeting to honour the hard work of the growers of the best tobacco in the world, without whose contribution the magnificent Habanos would not exist. This event, which will be held in El Laguito Protocol Lounge, will also include the re-launch of the Vegueros brand, whose new Tapados, Entretiempos and Mañanitas vitolas, all of them Totalmente a Mano Tripa Larga –Totally hand made, Long Filler- conceived for a more accessible segment and with a Medium to Full flavour, may be sampled, together with Habanos of the Edición Limitada 2013. The night will also reflect the relationship between Cuban tobacco and high cuisine, as one of the dishes served will include tobacco as an ingredients. Croatian chefs Grgur Baksic, Zoran Simunic and Pantelija Pekic, members of Gastronomadi, will supervise its preparation.
The XV Habanos Festival will end on Saturday 2nd March, with the Gala Evening in honour of Partagás, a brand found in 1845, which this year presents its first Gran Reserva in its 168-year history: Lusitanias Gran Reserva Cosecha 2007. These Habanos are Totalmente a Mano Tripa Larga -Totally hand made, Long Filler-, after a meticulous selection by Ligador -Master Blender- Arnaldo Bichot, of 2007 harvest leaves, aged for 5 years, from Vuelta Abajo, in the San Juan y Martínez and San Luis* tobacco districts. During the night, Italian tenor Darío Balzanelli, will sing the famous Cuban song ‘La Comparsa’, and the legendary Cuban singer Omara Portuondo will perform with Maestro Patterson’s orchestra and Maestro Santiago Alfonso’s dance troupe.
Other activities of interest
The wide-ranging programme of this XV Festival, on such a special occasion, places particular emphasis on the Habano as a symbol of tradition, exclusiveness, and know-how which has captivated men and women for centuries.
The Alliance between Habanos D.O.P.-Rioja D.O.Ca. will be a high point of the XV Festival: two great historical Denominations of Origin which however remain trendsetters. The selection stage prior to this alliance was held in January in Spain, with the participation of a jury of oenologists, journalists, gastronomy experts, and sommeliers, all of them Habanos smokers, who made a first selection of 12 wines, 6 for each category, which will go on to a first preliminary stage on 26th February, and then to the grand finale to select the 2 best pairings between Habanos and Rioja. This event will be held in the Palacio de Convenciones on Thursday 28th February.
The XII Habanosommelier International Contest will also be held, as well as the II International Contest Habanos in Images, which this year will focus on photography, and the III Habanos Blind Tasting, all of which activities are warmly received by the audience.
The Habanos Festival could not but include Lectures, this year given by Messrs Fernando Dominguez Valdés-Hevia, Simon Chase, and Eumelio Espino, the Master Class on the cigar rolling technique, and the traditional visits to the best tobacco plantations in Vuelta Abajo*, Pinar del Río* and the historical Habanos* factories. This year, we will be visiting the Partagás Factory, as well as H. Upmann, the factory where the Montecristo brand was created in 1935, both in their temporary locations due to restoration work. (Please verify the location of the factories in the press dossier and programme in case of doubt).
*(D.O.P.) Protected Denominations of Origin.
Grupo Habanos 2012 Financial results
In 2012, Grupo Habanos, which markets worldwide and in exclusive the 27 Habanos brands, all of which are made Totalmente a Mano –Totally hand made- had a turnover of 416 million dollars. This amounted to an organic growth -taking the constant exchange rate into account- of 6%. This is a positive trend that shows the company’s strength as a global leader despite the difficult economic and legal environment.
As stated by Luis Sanchez-Harguindey, Co-president of Habanos s.a.: “The results of our strategy development are really positive and very encouraging for the future. In this way, throughout 2012, and despite the difficult environment, Grupo Habanos increased its sales, at a constant exchange rate, by 6%”.
Walfrido Hernández Mesa, Co-president of Habanos s.a. said that “despite the economic crisis, which had a particularly strong impact on our Southern Europe markets, we had a good evolution, thanks, to a large extent, to our activity in emerging markets, particularly Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe (mainly Russia), as well as to the good behaviour of some of our mature markets, such as Germany, France, and Switzerland”.