The Lebanon qualifying round for HWC was recently wonderfully completed in high competitive spirits for a claim to represent the country in the Grand Finals during the upcoming 20thHabanos Festival in 2018.
Eight teams arrived early, and after a glamorous breakfast, began being tested through a series of challenges; knowledge, blind tasting and pairing, but only one team was finally declared victorious.
The 8 teams who participated were:
Los Cubanos: Mr. Elie Zamroud – Mr. Kassem Chmaiseny
Maduro: Mr. Jihad Oleiwan – Mr. Georges Antonios
Phoenicians: Mr. Khaled Hamad – Mr. Ali Haydar
Aficionado: Mr. Yasser Honeineh – Mr. Mohammed Bizri
Beauty and the Beast: Mr. Rami Sindos – Mrs. Rima Taher Hamad
Private Cigar: Mr. Hussein Batal – Mr. Ihab Grayeb
Varadero: Mrs. Borhan Nassar – Mr. Ali Mestrah
- The event started at 8:00 am on Saturday 9thof December at Movenpick Hotel in Beirut, Lebanon
- Participants had the opportunity to enjoy together a copious breakfast buffet
- At the strike of 9:00 am all team lit their first cigar and began the challenge.
- Each team sat together and was granted access through their smart device (mobile or tablet), to register on the Habanos World Challenge webpage – https://www.habanosworldchallenge.com
First Challenge: Knowledge Quiz
- The teams started the first challenge of the competition, Knowledge Quiz. Through a time-limit of 30 minutes, they were called to answer 30 multiple choice questions. Each correct answer received 1 point, up to a maximum of 30 points for this challenge.
Second Challenge: Cutting and Lighting
- At the completion of the Knowledge Quiz, each team was invited by the Jury for the second leg of the competition, Cutting and Lighting Demonstration:
- The Jury provided to each team member one cigar that had to be stripped off from all rings and brand bands.
- Each team member was then requested to demonstrate to the Jury the correct way of cutting and lighting a cigar.
- The team had to complete this task within 5 minutes.
- Each team member was assessed on the task with a possible maximum score of 5 points and an overall team score 10.
- The overall team score was then added to the total score of the team.
Third Challenge: Blind Tasting
Once a team completed the second stage of the competition, the two team members returned to their station for the third leg of the competition, the Blind Tasting.
For this challenge the team was called identify the characteristics of the cigar they were provided during the Cutting and Lighting Challenge.
The team had to provide for the cigar the following details:
- Factory Vitola
- Commercial Vitola
- Ring Gauge
The total maximum score of this challenge was 30 points.
The teams had to enter their answers into the Habanos World Challenge webpage under the section of the Quiz Blind Tasting.
It was later on revealed that the vitola was none other than the Vegas Robaina Unicos.
Last Challenge: Pairing – #MyUniqueHabanosMoment
For the last leg of the competition, Perfect Pairing of the cigar already chosen by participants prior to the event, each team was invited by the jury to verbally present within 5 minutes for the preselected cigar of their choice the following:
- Details regarding the brand and specifically the year of formation, the founder and the strength of the brand
- Details regarding the vitola and specifically the launching year, format details (factory vitola, length, ring gauge), smoking time and tasting notes.
- The team had to explain their Perfect Habanos Moment by specifying the location, the occasion and time of a day for enjoying the cigar of their choice.
- Pairing of the cigar depending on their Habanos Moment with a drink and a food from the list provided before as well. The team had to provide tasting notes for the drink and food towards explaining their pairing selection.
- Creativity in demonstrating/explaining the team’s pairing choice was awarded with extra points
The maximum score from the pairing challenge was 30 points. The points granted to the team for the pairing challenge were added to the overall team’s score.
The winning team of HWC Lebanon was Phoenicians, comprising of Mr. Khaled Hamad and Mr. Ali Haydar, who will be representing Lebanon in the Final Rounds in Havana, in February 2018.
Los Cubanos, the runner up team comprising of Mr. Elie Zamroud and Mr. Kassem Chmaiseny, also did excellent, winning the second place and a box of cigars.
The event closed around 14:00 in the afternoon with the presentation of an assorted HWC themed cake for all participants to enjoy and celebrate together this first of a kind aficionado gathering.