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Cuban cigars – the forbidden fruit of the cigar industry. Home to where the long-leaf tobacco used in cigars was born, Cubans were crafting cigars as early as 1492 when Christopher Columbus introduced tobacco to Europe. These masterfully crafted premiums were banned when President John F. Kennedy put an embargo of all things Cuban into law in 1962. The best product on the planet cigars-wise no longer available at your fingertips – the horror!
After the embargo went into place, Cuban cigar makers fled the country, and who could blame ‘em, and they smuggled the fine tobacco with them. From Nicaragua to the Canary Islands, Cuban tobacco was replanted and eventually found its way to the Dominican Republic where it was refined, blended, and improved, leading the Dominican to the numero uno producer of premium cigars today. While cigars were booming in the Dominican, it didn’t mean that the Cuban cigar industry vanished. Under Fidel Castro’s strict quality control standards and tobacco-growing educational programs, a new generation of Cuban cigar makers emerged in the 1990s, making these gems untouchable once again.
As the first cigars, you’ll want to stow some of these babies in your humidor. Especially with generations of tobacco skills the tobacco growers and rollers have and use to refine and improve the products that the Cuban seed produces. The result is a satisfying and flavorful cigar experience.
Fast forward to today, and now you can buy these prized premiums in any country except the United States. The embargo was lifted to be able to buy Cuban cigars outside of the U.S. for personal consumption only. I know this is music to your ears. While you can now purchase Cuban cigars outside of the US, you still cannot bring them back to the US. So, update your passport, pack your bags, and get yourself outta here to pick up some high-quality Cuban cigars.
Buyer Beware: Quality and price may vary depending on where you are purchasing your Cuban cigars.
Generally, a fair price for a legitimate Cuban cigar is around $20. There are many countries with excise tax, and in those locations, you can expect the price to be much higher.
Counterfeiting has always been a problem in the cigar industry. Cigar makers and thousands of employees engaged by legitimate cigar factories and tobacco farming operations around the world work hard to maintain strict standards of quality, construction, and consistency - and other traits you’ve come to know and expect from a given brand. A cigar’s name and designs represent more than just rolled-up tobacco. It encapsulates a level of flavor, quality, and construction you’ve grown to trust and identify in a brand.... a direct result of the passion, loyalty, and commitment of those industry workers in this labor-intensive and time-honored hobby. Manufacturers put in countless hours blending, aging, and marketing their cigars, and the cigar industry has been picking up speed, creating unique blends with heavy advertising dollars behind them.
With that in mind, it is no wonder why cigar companies large and small go to extreme lengths to prevent their products from becoming targeted. Numerous brands have been knocked-off and sold as originals, many being Cuban brands repackaged with increasingly sophisticated bands and boxes that are then sold in tourist areas, but also many popular non-Cuban brands as well. Given the popularity and prices for certain cigars, including Cuban brands, and the naivete of some consumers (especially common in tourist destinations), it’s only natural that we can expect to see such behavior increase.
One of the largest culprits found in the counterfeit cigar world is the prestigious Cohiba Behike. The Behike cigar is an exclusive, one of the most sought-after cigars in the world, produced in extremely limited quantities, and receive outstanding ratings! Yeah, they’re that good. A blend of the finest aged Cuban tobaccos including Meida Tiempo are used to create this limited run. These Cuban tobaccos are the highest leaves on the plant tending to be exceptionally strong. As your trusted cigar supplier, we would never want you to lose out on your wallet and the real deal. So, we would always suggest you purchase your cigars from a reputable provider and heed caution that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If you read this article with a heavy heart, longing for the flavors of Cuba but unable to leave the country, we have good news! Remember when I mentioned the cigar makers who fled Cuba and took their tobacco with them? They're still around, and we call them heritage brands. They have the same names as the original Cuban brands, and they use the same seeds, for the most Cuban-esque experience possible within the US. There are a lot of heritage brands out there, but some of our favorites include Cohiba, Montecristo, Partagas, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, and Punch. Shop for the best cigars or dive deeper into your cigar-learning journey in Cigar 101 today!