The distinctive shape of Cuaba cigars, and the fact that the entire vitolario of the brand is presented as such, is unusual in the Cuban cigar world. The Perfecto format – the name given to cigars which have both head and foot tapered to a point – is the most difficult to roll, and only achievable by the most skilled and experienced of torcedores. While some brands use the format occasionally for special releases – such as Partagas and Hoyo de Monterrey for their La Casa del Habano Exclusive...READ MORE
The distinctive shape of Cuaba cigars, and the fact that the entire vitolario of the brand is presented as such, is unusual in the Cuban cigar world. The Perfecto format – the name given to cigars which have both head and foot tapered to a point – is the most difficult to roll, and only achievable by the most skilled and experienced of torcedores. While some brands use the format occasionally for special releases – such as Partagas and Hoyo de Monterrey for their La Casa del Habano Exclusive cigars – Cuaba is the only brand whose whole identity is formed around this magnificent shape.
It has not always been the case that these formats were so unusual. Once upon a time, more than a hundred years ago at the end of the 19th century, the vast majority of cigars were produced this way. Market preference was overwhelmingly swayed towards this shape, and the nuances it brings to the flavour and performance of a cigar. Sadly, the difficulties in their creation gradually turned into expense for their production, and the market was unable to bear the increased cost of producing such cigars in the volumes smokers demanded. Straight-sided sticks – known as parejos – soon took over the industry, and the Perfecto was consigned to the history books.
Thankfully, that consignment was eventually proven to be temporary. In 1996 a line was launched – by way of a lavish gala dinner hosted at London’s Claridge’s hotel – to revamp the style and bring it back to the modern aficionado. The name Cuaba was borrowed from the Taino language – it referred to a flammable bush indigenous Cubans would use to light their Cohibas, or cigars – and appointed to the new brand tasked with rejuvenating an old style. Three sizes were initially presented, each hand-rolled using Tripa Larga (long filler tobacco) from the Vuelta Abajo region, and employing a medium-to-full strength blend.
The shape of the Perfecto is of interest and benefit to the smoker for many reasons. The tapered head – from where the smoke is drawn onto the palette – means the smoke is concentrated onto a particular part of the tongue in the first instance, giving a strong blast of flavour. The slender foot aids the even lighting of the cigar, and the gradual increase in the girth along the body means that different amounts of tobacco burn at different stages of the smoke, allowing for more development and expression of the flavour notes. It is in creating this shape that the difficulty lies for the roller, and equally so the value for the aficionado who chooses it.
Today’s Cuaba cigars are rolled at the Romeo y Julieta factory in Havana. It has been said by some that the blend for the cigars, when first devised by Habanos, was based on that of their hosts; others insist it was Montecristo who offered the most influence when the balance of leaves was being selected. Whatever the truth, the resulting sticks are delicious, and a wonderful tribute to the skill of the maestros who create them.
Cuaba Exclusivos: The thickest part of this stick measures 46 ring gauge, and at 5 ¾ inches long it should smoke for about 45 minutes. Herbaceous notes are accompanied by flavours of earth and light spice. The perfect introduction to the brand.
Cuaba Divinos: At only 4 inches long, this cigar does not take long to smoke from tapered tip to widest 43 ring gauge body and back again, giving a wonderful variety of flavours. Seeming to change profile with every puff, this cigar will enthral the smoker, but only for around 20 minutes or so. Excellent for shorter moments.
Cuaba Salomones: This stick expands to a mammoth 57 ring gauge and measures a mighty 7 ¼ inches long. The intensity of the flavours builds, then crescendos, then gently tapers off in much the same was as the physical construction does. Notes of wood, herbs and an undertone of nuts are among the delights that await whoever commits 90 minutes or more to this cigar.
There has been but one exception to the Cuaba use of the perfecto shape. In 2008 the brand was chosen to produce a Limited Edition, and a small number of cigars in the Piramides shape were released. While this style is very popular with other brands, having a point at only one end is not something which caught on with Cuaba.
The Cuban cigar world is full of rich heritage and nods to tradition. Boxes are decorated in the ways they were when Queen Victoria reigned over England; rolling techniques have been passed down, in some cases, over four or five generations. There is something special about Cuaba, though: the fact that the tradition they so proudly maintain is one which had, for all intents and purposes, completely died out gives them an extra importance. The Perfecto is the truest representation of a torcedor’s mastery; Cuaba exists to bring that representation to the world. Long may their work continue.
Brand Founded: 1996
Construction: Handmade, Tripa Larga
Continuous Production Cigars: 6