Cigar smokers across the country, rejoice! For the first time since 1962, U.S. citizens traveling outside the country can legally bring back formerly verboten Cuban cigars.
It’s still not possible to buy Havana’s finest in the U.S., as it remains illegal to sell Cuban cigars here. Nonetheless, this is a great leap forward for cigar lovers.
Buying Cuban cigars can be a perilous undertaking, given that many Cuban and non-Cuban cigars have the same names – Cohiba and Fonseca are two of the most common. And, given the mystique that surrounds Cuban cigars, counterfeits proliferate. While the taste may be a giveaway, since Cuban cigars are distinguished by an earthiness in taste and aroma, be aware that bands and boxes are also regularly counterfeited.
To ensure that you’re getting the real thing, it’s best to buy your Cuban cigars from Duty Free stores, or La Casa del Habano shops. If you’re purchasing a box of cigars, look for the official Habanos S.A. watermarked and hologramed stamp, which has been the hallmark of the genuine article since 2009. Another clue is uniformity in color: real Cuban cigars will not show variation in color in the box, as they are color-sorted by the manufacturer. Be sure to check the second layer as well.
Although it may be legal to import Cuban cigars for personal consumption now, don’t forget that customs rules still apply. Regulations limit you to 100 cigars maximum. However, given that Cubans sell for anywhere from $17-40 each on average, that might not be such a burden.
While there are Cuban cigars to suit the tastes of every aficionado, certain brand names stand out. The Cohiba is one of the most popular Cuban cigars, and also the brand most counterfeited. They’re medium to full in character, but not overpowering.
Lovers of single-malt Scotch and red meat will enjoy the storied Montecristo. These cigars are also medium-to-full bodied, but have a sweet undertone of spice. The Montecristo Number 4 is the world’s top-selling cigar.
The classic Romeo y Julieta is the perfect choice if you’re buying a gift and feeling uncertain. Medium bodied and sweet, these cigars are universally popular. Moreover, they can be purchased individually in a Tubo that protects the cigar in the absence of a cigar case.
For more information, please read:
Cuban Cigars Are Legal Again. This Is Your Guide to Buying the Best | Robb Report