An Ambassador Answers: Armando Diaz Dones

Cigar Keep's global community requires legendary figures from all over the world to join us in spreading the news and championing the cause of togetherness. This time we speak to our latest ambassador, Armando Diaz Dones.

What kickstarted your passion for cigars?

It was 10 years ago when I began to know and value premium cigars, from the management position I had at the Gran Hotel de Camagüey by Meliá́. There I dedicated myself to organizing the regional edition for Cuba of the Habanos Sommelier Contest, so I had numerous opportunities to interact with the world of premium cigars and begin to understand the lifestyle behind premium cigars.

In 2015 I moved to Madrid, Spain, where my passion for Habanos cigars increased due to how the culture and tradition are lived for cigar lovers, since that year I have dedicated myself to visiting the best cigar shops in Spain such as Cigar Shop Magallanes and tasting their magnificent selection of premium cigars.

What is your favourite cigar?

My favourite Cigar is the one I enjoy at the right time and works as an anchor for unbelievable memories. I enjoy many brands of Habanos, almost all brands and I can only say that each cigar is unique transporting my mind through my palate to my beloved Cuban land

Do you have a favourite cigar lounge or terrace?

The Club Pasión Habanos in Madrid is the perfect place to enjoy a good time with Habanos - an ideal atmosphere for good moments. Enjoying one of the few spaces in Madrid where you can enjoy a cigar indoors, particularly after-work on Mondays, making the beginning of the week more bearable.

In Cuba there is my favourite and must-see space; the patio of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba surrounded by an authentic Cuban atmosphere with music, good drinks and views of the Havana boardwalk, a true experience for all cigar lovers. 

What is your most memorable cigar moment?

I decided to sit in the wonderful colonial courtyard of the Gran Hotel de Camaguey my hometown, surrounded by tropical plants, history told in clay murals, iron chairs painted with a lot of art, drops of water from the recent downpour that impregnated the air with humid freshness, and of course this experience I wanted to share with a good friend and we sat surrounded by this atmosphere that invited you to enjoy a good Habano.  

It was time to do the ritual of lighting with cedar slices and very calmly my Romeo y Julieta Churchills, a vitola of Galera Julieta No2. I observe the oily layer of natural Carmelite colour, slightly ripe and with a slight red tinge. In that moment of delight, I felt intoxicated by the sensations and the emotion that surrounded me, the first captivating puffs like the first kiss, sweet and fresh. 

Between smoke and relaxation, they bring me the drink that would be the pairing for this experience, a good Cuban rum from the Havana Club brand the Selección de Maestros; One of my favourites to this day, on the smoky and spiced rob palate, soft, pleasant, and aromatic. This tricked me into an exotic journey through a world of flavours, warm amber colour and deep reddish glow. On the nose, spices highlight the ageing of wood. I was advised to drink it without ice, at room temperature, this March Day the temperature in the yard was about 26 degrees Celsius at 6 in the afternoon. 

After the first part of my Habano between a shot of rum and a puff of smoke, I fell more in love with its taste in the mouth and Cuban tobacco aromas, with a pleasant talk, my happiness grew when I discovered that there was an evolution of flavours, discovering new nuances that were not at the beginning of the smoke the sweetness with spicy touches and slightly earthy tips joins to a good balance of flavours and aromas.  There was so much euphoria I could feel the taste buds dancing in my mouth with an unctuous and complex taste, that I almost forgot that the ring of my Habanos existed.  This is how started the trip through the flavours and the good moments lived thanks to the enjoyment of a good Habano 

What cigar do you think is underrated?

For me, the least valued of Habanos is the Vegueros brand which has magnificent cigars at a very good price point, with ageing potential. There are other brands and cigars but it always depends on personal taste and preferences.

View Armando's keep here.