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The Finest Exports: Cuban Cigars, Coffee And Rum On Your Havana Holiday

Mar 26, 2008
For many, the main attraction of Cuba multi centre holidays are limited to diving, horse riding, city tours and of course beach relaxation, but have you ever considered making the island's main exports - Cuban rum, coffee and the legendary cigars an attraction in their own right? For most, Cuban coffee, rum and cigars are just products to be picked up from duty free, or off street vendors to be taken home as souvenirs, but they can also be an integral part of your Cuba itinerary.

Have you ever wanted to wander through the fertile Vuelta Abajo tobacco fields, or see how the rum from your Mojito was born? Read on to discover how you can get closer to the Cuban coffee, rum and cigars on your trip.

Cuban cigars

Aside from its revolutionary history, Cuban cigars are what the island is best known for. Casual observers will probably be unaware that all Cuban cigars do not have similar properties, however. Like France's various wine regions, which allow for different characteristics from the grapes, Cuba's different cigar regions create a very different smoke from each source.

As well as seeing where the Cuban cigar tobacco is grown first hand, those on holiday in Havana can arrange to tour an actual factory where the products are rolled! Cuban cigars are still rolled traditionally by hand, and visitors will also be able to take in one of the oldest traditions - as the manager reads to the workers from the latest newspaper.

Finally, of course, buying the cigars you have just witnessed being produced is a delightful little pleasure. You can be sure the same level of attention laboured on the factory floor is in every puff you inhale! It's possible to follow the tobacco from its entire journey - plant to box - on a Cuba multi centre holiday.

Cuban coffee

Cuba has been producing world class coffee for over two centuries, but the product has struggled to match the international recognition of the island's cigars and rum. Cuba's coffee is actually a distinctly underrated commodity, and has a flavour to match the excitement and passion of the island's people.

Touring Cuba's coffee plantations gives you a real insight into the care that goes into creating an aromatic and rich product. The fertile Caribbean soils and warm sunshine ensure that the beans are rich, full bodied and flavourful by the time they reach your cup. This is an excellent product to take home with you, as Cuba's coffee beans are not widely available outside the island.

Cuban Rum

Made from distilling the products of local sugar cane, aged for up to 15 years, getting the perfect drink of Cuban rum is an art that's been perfected by the islanders over the last 130-odd years. Matusalem rum, first produced 132 years ago and still made by the same family has the right philosophy. The name Matusalem comes from the Biblical figure of Mathuselah, who lived to 969 years old - a wry commentary on the desired age of the perfect cask.

Other brands offer various different experiences, and it's worth sampling a few to find a favoured brand. Varadero rum is made from sugarcane near south coast resort, and boasts a dark, sweet, caramel style flavour. Havana Club's various varieties, on the other hand keeps the sweet tones of the sugar with a slight hint of vanilla and the suggestion of wood spice or tobacco from the barrels. Sampling the various flavours and varieties - either in cocktails or neat, is amongst our favourites of Cuba's activities!

One Cuba itinerary highlight vital for those on a Havana holiday is the Havana rum museum, which will provide a fascinating insight into the history of this famous drink, as well as providing free samples of the finished product to help you make your mind up over which variety is right for you!

So alongside the various Cuba activities that you travel to the island just to do, consider looking deeper into the production of tobacco, rum and coffee. Exploring the island's most popular exports is a fascinating and memorable part of any Cuba multi centre holiday.
About the Author
Emma Lelliott is the general manager of Captivating Cuba, an independent Cuba holiday specialist. With offices in Havana and the UK, Captivating Cuba can design tailor made Cuba multi centre holidays, whether you're interested in beaches or horse riding.
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