The Guinness Book of Records tell us that the world’s longest cigar measured 81.80 m (268 ft. 4 in) and was made by Jose (Cueto) Castelar at the La Triada shop at Parque Morro-Cabaña in Havana, Cuba, on 3 May 2011.
I dropped by Cueto’s shop in the La Punta Fortress known as La Cabaña. At the initiative of Spain’s king, Felipe II, a historic structure protected Havana’s harbour against pirates beginning in the 16th century. The fortress, today a World Heritage site, and the shop are easily reached by cab by heading east through the tunnel that crosses under the harbour entrance.
Cueto first entered the record books in 2001 with a cigar measuring just 36 feet (11.04m), he went on to surpass this effort three times reaching 14.86m in 2003, 20.41m in 2005, and 45.38m in 2008, before this latest creation last year. It may come as a surprise that this Guinness category is hotly contested with records being set by Puerto Rican and Florida makers over the intervening years as well.
The record holder feels strongly that the record for the largest cigar should be in Cuba forever because “Cuba is the place with the best cigars in the world.”
Cueto, now 68, tells me he learned the techniques of the cigar rolling trade at just five-years-old and has worked at several of the leading manufacturers on the island. He still rolls each cigar, including the breathtaking long record holders, the traditional way employing local leaf and a lot of digital dexterity at the traditional rolling table. Needless to say, thanks to the prominence of cigar culture in Cuba, Cueto is something of a legend in his home country.
If you’re interested in fine Cuban cigars and meeting the man who is arguably the king of hand rollers, the shop and Cueto are musts on your itinerary.