Wow, that’s a heck of a headline, isn’t it? It’s kind of appropriate, because I’m taking a look at a heck of a book this Saturday. Min Ron Nee’s An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars is commonly referred to as “the Bible of Cuban Cigars.” Judging by the size of the book, I can see that at least visually, it’s a fair comparison. Just check out it the stats:
Weight: 6 lbs 4 oz
Dimensions: 12 ” x 9 3/4″ x 1 1/4″
Edition: 2nd, 2005 (Basically ’03 plus corrections)
Price: $124.99 (Cigarmony’s got ’em)
It’s called a coffee table book, but if you slap some legs under this book, it is a coffee table. Seriously though, it is a significantly large book, but what’s important is what’s inside. A glance at the cover of this book will tell you that while it is the size of your average coffee table book, it’s goal is to be a reference book.
Cracking open the significant tome, you’ll see they weren’t kidding about calling this an encyclopedia, either. It begins with the old Partagas vitola 109 (a.k.a. “Nro.109”) and ends with vitolas. Along the way it touches on every Cuban cigar you can think of, along with other terms and concepts such as a
ging, culebras, the embargo and totalmente a mano.
The culebra section with some culebras from the philippines
But the really great thing about this book is that it isn’t just an encyclopedia. It’s an illustrated encyclopedia. So you not only get to read about really rare, really special vitolas you get to see them. And because of the generous page size, you often see them in full size. You’d be hard pressed to find a single page in this book that doesn’t have at least one picture on it. (I didn’t count, but ball-parking it, I’m guessing there’s easily 600 pictures in the book.)
H. Upmann entry with a swanky advertisement
Entries for specific manufacturers include a complete listing of the vitolas since the revolution, with pictures of the majority of these cigars, information on the manufacturer, and pictures of advertising, boxes and special edition humidors as applicable (and available for photography). Remember that article I put up some weeks ago about the Sancho Panza branch of the tree humidor? There’s not one, but two pictures of it in the book. As well as pictures of similar humidors put out by other brands.
By now you can tell that I really like this book. I do, and I definitely recommend it. However it may not be for everyone. If you don’t smoke or collect Cuban cigars, you may not interested in picking up this book. It isn’t cheap, and it’s not the easiest to track down. (Cigarmony just got them back in stock, but seem sell out of them pretty quickly.)
Who This Book Is For
- Cuban cigar or tobacciana collectors
- Cuban cigar enthusiasts
- All around cigar geeks (like yours truly)
Who This Book Isn’t For
- People who aren’t overly interested in Cuban cigars
- Non smokers (I know, it kinda goes without saying, doesn’t it?)
In keeping with my Saturday reviews, lets have a look at what I do and don’t like about this book:
What I Like
- The full-sized color pictures. I’ve never seen a better collection of “cigar porn.”
- The inclusion of topics with cigars. This book doesn’t just list vitola stats, it discusses cigar related topics as previously mentioned and goes into brand history.
- Pictures of humidors, ads and other Cuban cigar swag. (Yep, pictures figure twice in my list.)
- The color coded sections, that mark cross references, editorial comments, and etc.
- The completeness. I don’t feel the need to ever buy another book on Cuban cigars again.
What I Don’t Like
- That the 2005 edition is really the 2003 edition plus some corrections. Nothing that came out after sometime in 2002 is likely to appear in the current edition of the book. (To my knowledge, no newer editions are currently planned.)
- The listing scheme for vitolas is a bit cluttered looking (lots of tables).
- I’d be lying if I said I like the price tag. But it is hard to come by, and Cigarmony does have a Stogie Review discount! (However, I don’t regret buying it.)
Though it is probably the most expensive book I’ve purchased since college, I don’t regret the purchase even a bit. It’s a fantastic book. But if you’re a little hesitant to pull the trigger, I’d recommend checking your local B&M. Some of them have a copy available for your to peruse along with the usual collection of cigar magazines. And if your shop doesn’t, maybe you can talk them into picking one up so you don’t have to!