The annual Habanos festival ended Friday with a million-dollar cymbal crash
. The week-long event attracted cigar
merchants, smokers and collectors from around the world to select, sample and savor ... all leading up to purchases, of course. The main attraction was an auction
of ornate cedar and mahogany humidors packed with hecho a mano cigars, ultimately fetching $1.09 million. Hundreds may have attended, but only a small fraction walked away with that level of satisfaction.
The celebration came on the heels of an announcement by Habanos S.A. that its revenue only reached $360 million last year
, an 8 percent decline from 2008. The new Romeo y Julieta that was unveiled at the event, designed to appeal to women
, is ostensibly a direct response to two consecutive years of revenue declines. Since women comprise only 5 percent to 10 percent of Habanos' customers, the company is hoping that there's room for growth. The company is also relying on an economic recovery in Spain
, which is its largest market.
Despite the new "ladies' line," the focus in Cuba
last week was on the auction. The top humidor to move contained the new Cohiba
Bieke cigar, fetching $681,000, close to two-thirds of the total. According to Oscar Basulto, Vice President of Habanos, this is the top premium cigar on the market – though I'm sure there are a few people in Nicaragua
and the Dominican Republic
who would disagree.