The Impossible Collection of Cigars
The Impossible Collection of Cigars
Image: Supplied

A cigar is about quiet time. Time for reflection. Time for self. And, for me, time for reading, which is something that often happens, on a Friday or Saturday night, on my little patio, with a cigar and a cup of tea, or occasionally, something stronger. Sometimes, the cigar and the reading material line up as happened recently.

 El Habano

A friend, fresh back from a trip to Cuba, has been reading El Habano: De La Semilla Al Puro En 539 Pasos (The Habano: From Seed To Cigar In 539 Steps) by Eumelio Espino Marrero.

Published around 2019, it is a hard-to-find book written in Spanish (with English translation) by a true insider, who devoted over four decades of his life to improving tobacco crop in Cuba.

Eumelio Espino is a tobacco geneticist who started working for the state-owned tobacco company Empresa Cubana del Tabaco in 1970 responsible for tobacco genetics and improvement. He later went on to work for the country’s Tobacco Research Institute and retired in 2012.

 El Habano pulls the veil back and with words and images fulfils Espino’s aim which, as he writes, “is to highlight the role played by scientific and technical research in the use of new technologies and the adoption of new varieties.”

 The book is divided into chapters that unpack the origin and evolution of Cuban Black tobacco, genetic improvements, the agricultural phase, the pre-industrial (which covers harvesting, blending and rolling) and the industrial phase.


Partagas: El Libro

While my collection of cigar related coffee table books is still small, one book I did receive as a gift a few years ago, which I often flip through, is Partagas: The Book. It is a 271-page detailed history of the world-renowned cigar brand Partagas, written by Canadian graphic designer, writer and self-proclaimed Havanophile, Amir Saarony, in collaboration with Zoe Nocedo Prime, the director of the Tobacco Museum in Havana.

The journey starts with Jaime Partagas Y Rabell, who registered La Flor Tabacos De Partagas Y Compania around 1838, when he started producing cigars. He established the Partagas factory in 1945. A beautifully designed book, it has photographs of everything from boxes, bands and cigars to buildings, offices, adverts and even financial records. Interwoven into the Partagas story is the evolution of the Cuban cigar industry.


The Impossible Collection of Cigars

High up on my list of books to get is The Impossible Collection of Cigars, published by US-based Assouline Publishing, a book publisher and lifestyle company that has produced luxury books on a range of topics including art, design, architecture, photography, wine, watches and gastronomy. Their Ultimate Collection, which includes The Impossible Collection of Cigars, uses hand-bound traditional techniques to make the actual books.

The cigar coffee table book weighs 8kg, packaged in a ‘traditional wooden cigar box case’ and comes with complementary white gloves. It is “an oversized, hand-bound, 232-page volume filled with hand-tipped photographs” and written by editor and author Aaron Sigmond, who was founding editor of Smoke magazine and The Cigar Report, among other cigar editing jobs.

From photos of Cuban tobacco farms and legendary rollers to profiles of cigars and quotes from well-known cigar smokers, it is as close to the perfect cigar book as you can get. In a 2019 article for Maxim, Sigmond shares five great cigars from the book, namely Davidoff No. 2 (Cuba), Cohiba 40th Aniversario Behike (Cuba), Dunhill Cabinetta (Cuba), Tatuaje Frank (Nicaragua) and Habanos 1994 Corona Gordas (Cuba) which comes in one of 502 numbered humidors with 50 cigars inside.

The Impossible Collection of Cigars goes for €1,200 and I consider myself privileged to stand over the shoulder of a friend who owns a copy.

 It is truly the ultimate centrepiece for a home smoking lounge.

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