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El Gigante: 18-foot cigar worth $185,000 sold by Westchase dealer

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Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 10:51 AM
CLEARWATER -

Holy smokes. What a stogie.

Juan Panesso, a cigar aficionado who runs CigarsDirect.com, an online cigar shop, deals in fine cigars from all over, but he'd never seen the likes of the Gran Habano #5 El Gigante before he uncrated it in a warehouse on Sunday morning.

The cigar, nearly 19 feet long and more than 3 feet wide, came in its own carrying case, a 900 pound round wooden crate that looks like an old steam locomotive. It sat inside a Clearwater warehouse Sunday awaiting the gentle hands of workers to crate it up and ship it out on Tuesday.

Destination: undisclosed. The stogie is going to a private collector, somewhere out of the country, Panesso said.

A box of 20 Gran Habano #5s typically sells for $111, but this one stogie sold for a cool $185,000, said Panesso, whose buy-and-sell business is located in Westchase.

"A guy called and he needed to locate a few high-end cigars," Panesso said, standing next to the highest-end cigar around.

On the list provided by the private collector was the name El Gigante, Panesso said. The buyer got a deal, he said, paying far below the recommended retail price tag of $200,000.

The cigar came from a collector in Miami, he said, and it has been in the public before, on display at cigar shows and events.

It took 16,000 wrapper leaves to sheath the tobacco, which is enough to make 25,000 regular size cigars. The beast weighs 1,600 pounds, paper ring included.

Swinging the sale "was well worth it," Panesso said. "It's a once in a lifetime deal."

Panesso said the brokerage of El Gigante likely will bring more business to his website.

"We pride ourselves on finding the hard-to-find cigars," he said. "This shows we are able to fill all our orders."


kmorelli@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7760

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