Havana – Cyprus secured a respectable second place in the finals of the 3rd Habanos World Challenge cigar competition that took place in Havana, Cuba, late last month.
The Cyprus national team, made up of the Head of Accounting of Chelco Management Services Ltd, Rodia Constantinou and smoking partner, Babis Kaidalidis, came in as runner ups after an intense battle that involved agricultural, industrial phases, as well as practical and demonstrative issues of Habanos cigars. The challenges included a blind tasting, pairing cigars to fitting beverages, a written test and more.
First place went to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Team of Tarek El Gemayel and Fadi Hammad.
Rodia owes her passion for fine cigars to Chelco VAT Ltd Managing Director and VAT guru, Alexis Tsielepis, who in 2018 along with local jeweller, Raffi der Garabedian, actually won the 1st Habanos World Challenge for Cyprus after beating the Cuban team!
Roberto Delgado, president of the competition’s judging committee, explained that the first test for the contestants was the written one during which the five champion teams in their respective regions delivered their answers as a team and not individually. The contestants had 30 minutes to complete their answers and return them to the jury. In the second round of the preliminary stage, two cigars without rings or identifying marks were given to each of the five teams for blind tasting.
During the afternoon session, the competitors participated in a demonstration, consisting of a cut and light of a cigar, and presented to the jury their proposals for pairing.
At the end of the day, the teams of Cyprus and UAE rose victorious and were set to compete at the grand finale of the Challenge on 28 February.
The Cypriot duo managed to impress the judges and spectators with their knowledge and passion for Cuban cigars but in the end they were edged by the UAE team. The challenge was widely covered by the Cuban mass media.
The Habanos World Challenge was part of the annual 22nd Habanos Festival, one of the world’s largest gatherings of cigar lovers and cigar businessmen that traditionally takes place in the birthplace of fine cigars, Habana, Cuba.