At the end of a night full of emotions, the couple Pedro Merino and François Colombo are proclaimed winners of the final of the Habanos World Challenge Spain contest, thus securing their pass to the international competition to be held in Havana.
The Habanos World Challenge contest was held this year for the first time in Spain by Club Pasión Habanos. The two finalist pairs, Pedro Merino and François Colombo on the one hand, and Antonio León and José Pedro Caballero on the other, competed against each other in a live, real-time contest in which they faced a series of different tests with the aim of achieving the highest final score and thus becoming champions. In front of them, a jury of five experts in the world of cigars (Sergio Sauca, Manuela Romeralo, Ángel García Muñoz, Armando Díaz and José Andrés Colmena) ensured total transparency and professionalism in their assessments of the contestants’ performance in each of the tests.
And enjoying the show, presented with rhythm, sympathy and professionalism by the journalist and gastronomic expert David Fernández-Prada, an audience of more than one hundred members, who were also able to actively participate in the same challenges of the finalists through a mobile application, to check their own level of knowledge.
The grand finale took place throughout the evening in three different tests. The first was a knowledge test, in which each team answered ten different questions of the same type of difficulty and the same characteristics. The second was a demonstration of cutting and lighting a cigar without a ring, in which the two couples had to show the jury their technical skills and their ability to communicate. Finally, the third test was a blind tasting in which each team, and the public as well, had to taste and identify a cigar and a distillate without knowing any previous information about either of them. Surely the most difficult challenge of the night, in which not only the contestants, but also many attendees, were very surprised after finally discovering that the cigar was the Partagás Mille Fleurs and the beverage was the Brandy de Jerez 1866 by Osborne. During the tasting, the members of the jury took the stage for a relaxed interview guided by the presenter, where they shared some of their anecdotes and stories about the world of cigars.
Throughout the tests the contestants, as well as the public, were scoring points, under the watchful eye and strict control of the jury, too. And then came the long-awaited moment to announce the winners. First, prizes were awarded to the three best participants of the public. And finally, the big moment, in which the couple made up of Pedro Merino and François Colombo, after getting the highest total score, was proclaimed champion of the Habanos World Challenge Spain final, thus getting the pass to represent Spain in the competition at international level that will hold its next edition in Havana during the next 24th Habano Festival from February 26 to March 1, 2024. Amid applause and congratulations, the winners took the stage to collect their diplomas and two exclusive Montecristo Carmen books from the jury, which were also given to the runner-up couple along with two Juan López Selección No. 2 gift boxes.