Koen VAN ZANDWEGHE (35) is a Belgium based lawyer. In over more than ten years he has developed an absolute passion for the Habano. Being the youngest president ever of Habano club Aroma de Cuba he has been digging deeper and deeper in the world of the Habano. These days he’s the consultant of La Casa del Habano in Knokke & Gent, companion of Jean Nicot and columnist for cigar magazine El Gusto.
1) When did you smoke your first Cuban cigar?
I smoked my very first Cuban cigar in February 2003. During my Law studies I was already exploring the cigar by smoking short fillers like Justus van Maurik, Oud Kampen and Olifant. When I finished Law School I started my internship as a lawyer and in that first year I went with some friends of my student club to Cuba. We did a road trip on the Island and already got a box of cigars. When we were somewhere in Pinar looking for a Fina, we got lost.
The road ended up in a lake. We were blocked. Instead of turning back, we took out the cigars, lit them, looked at the road, looked at the lake and decided we’d enjoy the moment. Since then I got hooked on the Habano.
2) Which is your favorite vitola?
Everybody these days seems to love the robusto and the variations on it (gran, extra, wide, petit etc). I don’t mind people loving short fatties. I’m more into the long and slender sizes. There was a time I was an absolute fan of the Lonsdale (Cervantes, Cazadores and Dalias) like the Bolivar Gold Medal, Partaga 8-9-8 var/unv, and the Romeo y Julieta Cazadores.
Now I seem to enjoy the even more slender vitolas like the Laguito No 1 & 2 but then I also have affection for the old school sizes like the Britànicas, Tacos and the Salomon. I don’t have a specific preference.
I smoke what I feel like but appreciate the above mentioned vitola’s a little bit more.
3) The best Cuban cigar smoked in your life…
That’s a hard question because this is not necessarily the best cigar or my favorite cigar. It all depends on the occasion and the memories.
I still hold great memories on my first Cuban cigar I smoked (it was a Cohiba Esplendido) and a Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona a smoked a couple of summers ago.
It was a beautiful day and I was smoking it at ease on my terrace. For my usual me, I was a little too quiet or at ease and my wife asked what I was thinking about (I’m always busy with something of some kind). I had to admit I wasn’t thinking of anything at all. I was just smoking my cigar and enjoying the moment. I sat there all by myself for around three hours.
When we are talking about great cigars I must mention the Cohiba Esplendido Seleccion Reserva.
4) When do you light your first cigar of the day?
Usually that’s after six when my staff is gone and I’m finishing work. When I have a long drive ahead it can be morning or noon. I smoke when I feel like it, Morning, day or evening.
5) Please suggest a Cuban cigar with a rum, single malt or something relevant…
I’m Belgian. So what do you expect? Beers!
Beer is often patronized but premium beers pair extremely with cigars. A Chimay Blue with a Ramon Allones Specially Selected or Ename with a Trinidad Short Robusto T are great pairings. The both lift each other up to a great combo. Give it a try!
Thanks for your time Koen, enjoy your cigars.