The man in the cigar is Heinrich Villiger. Such a great expertise and so much love for the product "Cuban cigar" is very impressive. For the 30th anniversary of 5TH Avenue, Zigarren.Zone has produced a short film in 2019. 5TH Avenue is the official importer of Cuban cigars for Germany, Austria and Poland. Previously, there were many importers of Cuban cigars in the countries. The then distributor "Cubatabaco" dramatically reorganized the distribution. That was in 1989.

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The short film ~ Crisp 12 minutes History

The short film "The Man in the Cigar" spans the years: 1970s, 1989s, 2001 and 2019. Three actors tell impressive and exciting stories about why 5TH Avenue sold luxury products by mail order before 1989, why the company decided to focus on Cuban cigars in 1989, how a new course was set in 2001 and how the company is doing in 2019. The three actors are Heinrich Villiger, Barbara Leyva de la Torre and Christoph A. Puszkar.

The first joint venture between a state-owned tobacco company from Cuba and an importer

Before the Castro Revolution, Cuban cigar brands all had their own distribution organizations. After the revolution, all cigar producers were nationalized. They were incorporated into the state-owned Cubatabaco. Cubatabaco now had the logistical problem that the brands all had different import taxes per country. Francisco Padron, the president of Cubatabaco at the time, wanted to change that. He wanted a simplification. He invited all importers from Europe to Zurich. That was around 1987.

The deal looked like this: There would be only one importer per country and Cubatabaco wanted to have a 50% stake in the company. The importers were all independent companies and rejected this idea. Heinrich Villiger was running 5TH Avenue Products at the time. This was a trading company. It sold products in the luxury segment by mail order. It was a direct marketing company. They also had cigars on sale. The goal of 5TH Avenue was to help the cigar get a better image. Because at the time, the luxury product was no longer in such demand in Germany.

Heinrich Villiger; The man in the cigar
Heinrich Villiger.

Heinrich Villiger recognized the potential in Mr. Padron's idea. Since Villiger had been doing good business with Cuba for decades, he seized the opportunity. Almost the entire previous range of 5TH Avenue was liquidated. From one day to the next, so to speak, "only" Cuban cigars could be bought at 5TH Avenue; however, it was not the end consumer who could buy, but the cigar dealers.

5TH Avenue was the first joint venture company to enter into this partnership with Cuban state-owned Cubatabaco. After Heinrich Villiger took this courageous step and proved how well it worked, other importing countries gradually followed suit.

The man in the cigar - the short film and her actors

In the short film tells Heinrich Villiger impressively how all this came about. The following also have their say Barbara Leyva de la Torre and Christoph A. Puszkar.

Barbara Leyva de la Torre. Since then, the Cubans have sent their employees to work for the importers from time to time. They stayed for several years. Barbara Leyva de la Torre worked in the finance department of Cubataco at the time (later at the new distributor Habanos S.A.). She had been with 5TH Avenue briefly before and has now worked here for four years since the fall of 2018. Now she is "Commercial Manager" at 5TH Avenue and is responsible for purchasing. She has also been with Intertabak AG, the Swiss importer for Cuban cigars.

Christoph A. Puszkar. He joined 5TH Avenue Products in 2001. He already loved Cuban cigars back then. And so it was almost a hobby for him to be able to do the marketing for Cuban cigars. Today, he is the marketing manager at 5TH Avenue.

The concept of the short film

In the intro you are taken back to the 1960s. One sits, so to speak, in front of an old TV set. It is produced in black and white and the film contains image distortions; Heinrich Villiger explains in a few short sentences how the Habanos connoisseur "ticks". The sound also sounds "old".

The transition to the 1970s Years shows technology focal points; the flowing technology photos are a bit jerky on purpose. This scene was produced with a 35mm filter. The image is a bit grainy, just as the films were produced back then.

The transition to the 1989 years again shows technology focal points. The image of this scene is now clearly "sharper" and the colors are a bit "darker and a bit more saturated".

The transition to the year 2001 also shows technology focal points. The image of this scene is somewhat "softer" in colors.

The transition to 2019 shows technology highlights one last time. The image of this scene has not been edited, but shows pure Full HD exactly as it was recorded.

More about Heinrich Villiger >

I look forward to reading your comments here on the blog 🙂

By Vasilij Ratej

I am the editor of Zigarren.Zone online magazine and FlashCigar (online magazine). In addition to text articles, I also produce video clips and video documentaries. My aim is to offer my readers and viewers a unique experience and bring them closer to the world of cigars and stories about people. I attach great importance to authenticity and honesty in my contributions.

30 thoughts on “Der Mann in der Zigarre”
  1. Thank you for a timeless document! Always amazing for me to experience a Heinrich Villiger literally bursting with devotion.

  2. A really great video with a lot of information that you might not get otherwise. Keep it up Vasilij.

  3. Great video, short and crisp with good interviews that were very interesting content- compliments

  4. I thought the film was very good in terms of content. The transitions I found now not so good. On the whole, I was very enthusiastic and had fun watching.

    1. I can only thank this interesting man, for his devoted work, which allows me to enjoy my most beautiful pastime.
      Heinrich Villiger, or, "A life for a leaf".

  5. Informative and very well done. Great background knowledge easily understandable brought across.
    I wish for more short films like this. Thanks for this!

  6. The report shows once again that Heinrich Villiger is probably one of the best connoisseurs of Cuban cigars.

  7. A beautiful exciting short film by Mr. Villiger and his staff . Mr. Villiger is right " A cigar lover remains faithful to his Cuban cigars -formats ". There is nothing better . Not to forget the storage of Cuban cigars and to taste them every two to three years until they have reached their peak and are perfectly smokeable, that is pure passion. Personally, the cigars taste best between 7 and 10 years. That is pure pleasure. Like for example a Montecristo A after 15 years a pleasure that you can not describe with words. Just try it out to store Cuban cigars for a long time.

  8. I watched the report with much interest. For me, this report was very informative and very well done. This film has motivated me to enjoy Cuban cigars more again. Many thanks.

  9. Exciting and well-made film, especially the time jumps: that was not so long ago that Cuban cigars were a luxury good hard to get! One more reason to enjoy them consciously.

  10. I enjoy success, great cigars, good people.... all that is the case with Villiger..... hope it goes on like this for a long time....

  11. Thank you very much for the interesting summary about Heinrich Villiger and 5th Avenue. One always learns something more, and his assessment concerning
    "Hanging" with the "own" Cuban cigar brand I can only agree for my part

  12. Through my many years of AD activity at Gebr. Heinemann GmbH Hamburg, from 1977 to 2010, I had somewhat different experiences about the development of longfiller cigars.
    However, since I am retired, it is no longer my place to express my opinion.
    Basically I would like to emphasize that I appreciate Mr. Heinrich Villiger and his influences in the market,even today !

  13. It always pleases me to see with what intusiasm people have done things. The nice thing about it is also that many still do it.
    Since I have the good fortune to know some producers and importers themselves, I also think I know that the friends of the cigar has never passed. Hence my passion, it is always genuine, never fashion.

    Greetings

    Don

    1. "The Havana smoker is a "stubborn", who does not look to the left and to the right what else is out there, who then also sticks to it..." ...hahahaha, I think that Mr. Villiger is not quite correct in his assessment. Possibly I interpret his statement also wrongly, then I want to have said nothing and apologize. I would claim that many after a time of "smoking through the countries" then eventually get stuck with Habanos...and then the statement of Mr. Villiger applies again. Until now I was not aware that Cubatabaco (or the Cuban state) with 50% is a shareholder of the respective exclusive distributors of Habano's cigars and
      Habanos S.A. once again interposed, interesting.

  14. This is typical Vasilij , short film with a lot of information from one who has cigars in his blood. Super made . ?

  15. Find the film well done, entertaining designed, a lot of information in a short time.

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