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Victor’s the Victor

The annual UK HabanoSommelier final was held at Hunters & Frankau’s London head offices on Tuesday December 9th. Four finalists from some the leading cigar friendly restaurants, with outdoor cigar areas, arrived to face a tough day of competition. The prize at stake? An all expenses paid trip to Cuba for the annual Cigar Festival (February 22nd to February 26th) and the chance to represent the UK at the International HabanoSommelier final during the Festival.

Although the competition was strong and all of the contestants had their individual merits, at the end of a tough day’s assessment the judges, Hunters & Frankau’s Sean Croley and Simon Chase, came to a clear and unanimous decision to award Victor Ferreira of Boisdale (Belgravia) the coveted title. His strong written exam coupled with an in depth knowledge of Cuban cigars and exemplary cigar service carried the day.

The morning began with Marcin Rys (Boisdale, Bishopsgate), Olivier Marie (Coq d’Argent), Alvaro Marcos Garcia (Home House) along with Victor sitting a stringent written exam covering a range of cigar related topics including, Cuban tobacco farming techniques, cigar production, sizes, tastes, flavours and service.

They were then set a role play in order to assess their knowledge of Habanos cigars, their ability to recommend the correct cigars for specific occasions and their skill in cutting, lighting and serving the cigars. The scenario the four competitors faced was:

A husband and wife have just finished their lunch to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary and would now like to enjoy a cigar. They have around 40 minutes before they must leave for the matinee show at the theatre. The wife would also like to purchase an additional cigar to enjoy during the 20 minute interval at the theatre. She prefers medium flavoured Habanos whilst her husband likes full flavoured cigars.

Please introduce all the cigars that you find in the humidor and make a recommendation of the right cigar/s for each smoker.

They were presented with a humidor containing eight different cigars and asked make the correct recommendation for each specification. The cigars the humidor contained were:

Bolivar – Corona Gigantes

Partagas – Serie D No.4

Romeo y Julieta – Corona

Punch – Petit Punch

Montecristo – No.4

Cohiba – Siglo V

Partagas – Short

Finally, they were presented with a drinks list and required to recommend a drink to compliment each of the cigars. The selection they were offered consisted of:

1988 Dom Ruinart Rose Champagne

Hennessy XO Cognac

Remy M

1974 Armagnac Domaine De Lasgraves

Havana Club 15 Year-Old Rum

Macallan 18 Year-Old Highland Malt Whisky

Lagavulin 16 Year-Old Islay Malt Whisky

Jose Cuervo Especial Tequila

Niepoort 10-Year Tawny Port

Taylor’s 1977 Vintage Port

A delighted Victor said of his upcoming challenge in Havana, ‘I am very competitive and when I go out there I will be going out to win. Now I need to do even more studying!’.

Sean Croley added ‘I am positive Victor will represent the UK with distinction in the 2010 World HabanoSommelier final in Havana next year and wish him well.’

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