Everything you need to know about buying cigars in Cuba

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Some of the best cigars in the world come from Cuba. The island produces over 90 million cigars a year, which may make choosing the best Cuban cigars tricky. Purchasing an authentic stick at a good price takes a little research, but we’ve gotten you started with this article.

 

What Makes Cuban Cigars So Special?

Cuba is venerated for its cigars largely due to its traditions and the quality product born from that long history. The island’s climate allows it to grow quality tobacco for the filler, binder, and wrapper of a cigar. In this environment, a flavorful cigar with notes of sweet hay and earth is born. When lit, the leaves produce a thick grey ash that gives smokers an even, slow burn. A trip to Cuba is sure to be an amazing experience for anyone looking to immerse themselves in a vibrant culture; and it would be perfectly punctuated with a cigar purchase.

 

Buying a Best Seller

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Just as you would plan your itinerary, your hotel, and your flight, you need to plan your shopping excursion. Start with knowing your own flavor profile and the best sellers in those categories.

Mild cigar smokers will enjoy the creamy flavor of Fonseca’s cigars. If a medium palette is your favorite, then Romeo Y Julieta has a large portfolio to explore. If you want to splurge, try a Cohiba Siglo VI. It consistently cracks the top 25 list for well-known cigar reviewers. Montecristo Platinum is a popular stick by a lauded brand. It was created specifically for smokers interested in a full-bodied cigar.

 

Authenticity

Cuban cigars are widely seen as a luxury item, like a designer handbag; and like designer bags, they are sometimes counterfeited. To make sure you’re purchasing be mindful of three things: location, brand and markings.

 

Location

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Street-side markets are notorious for trying to pass off cheaply made cigars as authentic Cubans, so always buy from a reputable store. When in doubt, just buy from the distributor directly. Many farms have visitor’s centers and gift shops? Romeo Y Julieta and Partagas both have factory stores that are guaranteed to sell genuine Cubans.

If you try a cigar on your trip and want to buy more when you return home, a trusted online retailer can help you source your stogies.

 

Brand

You’re guaranteed to get a quality smoke if you stick to well-known names. Staple brands like Cohiba, H. Uppman, Punch and Hoyo de Monterey go to great lengths to ensure customers get the real thing. Smaller brands are much easier to copy and pass of as authentic.

 

Markings

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Markings are one way big brands control quality. Check your bands for imperfections and check the barcode on your box to make sure it’s genuine.

 

Price Points

Once you’ve found a reputable store, check the prices. Just like with wine, overpaying for the product doesn’t make it taste any better. Some stores may overcharge tourists because they know visitors expect to pay more.

Generally, Cuban cigars cost less in Cuba—with starting prices around $10 or $11 USD. If you’re looking to purchase a box of something that’s not a special release still expect to pay $300 USD or more. Cohibas are a premium brand even on the island, so don’t expect any discounts or “steals.”

Deep discounts on brand names mean you may be looking at seconds. Seconds are cigars that didn’t make the cut because of a cosmetic flaw or other mistake. Below seconds are sticks rolled with leftovers that amount to little more than floor sweepings and damaged leaves. Remember: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

 

The Trip Home

Making sure you can pass customs without forfeiting your prize is important. If you are a U.S citizen, the general rule is no more than 100 cigars every 31 days and no reselling! If you intend to purchase more than 100 cigars, you’re subject to pay additional tax. If you intend to resell, you have to obtain special licensure.

Canadians can bring at most 50 cigars back without special declarations or additional fees. Be sure to check your country’s policies before going on a shopping spree.

 

Author: Daniel Stauffer


Daniel Stauffer is a numbers guy by trade but a cigar lover at heart. During his time in London, he learned about cigars as a social pastime then ultimately embraced it as a way of life.

 

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Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

22 Comments

  1. Very interesting. My husband and his brother love cigars, I’ll have to share this with them. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!

  2. I admit, I don’t know much about cigars since I don’t smoke. I’ve heard how great Cuban Cigars are but to me, they just stink. This is great to those who like them!

  3. Not buying Cuban cigars in Cuba is like visiting the moon and not taking a rock. I am not fun of Cuban Cigars but my husband love them.

  4. This is really helpful. With Christmas coming up, I have some people I’d like to buy some good Cuban cigars for, but I’m never sure if the ones I can find are legit or not. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. I never knew all of this about Cuban cigars. I always knew they were special and expensive but this is really fascinating.

  6. I have heard a lot about Cuban cigars but I have no interest in this habit. However, I am planning to visit Cuba sometime soon to see everything else they have to offer especially their food.

  7. I have always enjoyed authentic Cuban cigars via my former employer on the island of Dominica, where trade is allowed, although it took a whole bunch of smuggling logistics to get them through US customs. My favorite Cuban puros are Vegas Robana, Cohiba Maduro 5 Magico, and Partagas.

  8. My husband loves Cuban cigars. There is a town nearby called Ybor City where we found the best cigars. Hopefully, we can visit Cuba soon and enjoy the town, the food, and their cigars.

  9. I have always been intrigued about Cuban Cigars. Thank you for the history and explanation of how to go about buying them. This was really informative!

  10. I don’t use cigars neither does my friends it’s the first time am getting to know that best cigars are from Cuba. Great article

  11. You can finally bring them to the US legally? My dad bought some Cuban cigars about 20 years but got in South Korea and in secret. My grandpa loved those things a lot though!

  12. I didn’t know that Cigars could be counterfeited. I also didn’t realize how much one Cigar would cost. It makes me wonder how long it takes people to normally smoke just one.

  13. This is the first I heard about cigars and I don’t smoke but read this article is such interesting especially to those people who love cigars

  14. That’s quite interesting and learned some new things about cigars. My husband and I don’t smoke but this would be great for people who do.

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