There has been plenty of excitement in the cigar world here in the USA ever since our Government decided to mend relationships with Cuba. If all goes according to plan you will soon be able to travel there freely and indulge in the forbidden fruit – Cuban Cigars. Of course these cigars will also be available on many cigar shop shelves here in the USA. For those that have never had a real Cuban cigar you may be in for a real surprise as you expose your Nicaraguan, Dominican, and Honduran trained palate to the smoke of this forbidden fruit.
I have traveled the world in my business career and on those trips to places like Europe, Asia, Canada, Russia and Central America I have had my fair share of Cuban cigars. I would say that most were authentic although there may have been a few that were not. I make it my focus to always go to reputable shops including Casa del Habanos houses and airport duty free to pick up a few during my visit.
Given that I have traveled for over 20 years and have been sampling the forbidden fruit over those many years I am here to say that Cuban cigars vary as greatly as the many other sticks you smoke every day. Some are decent, some are great and there are a few that are just – ok. The prices vary just as widely too. I have paid from $6 to $36 for them over those years. I also learned that the price is fixed by the Cuban Government and the only price variable is the local tobacco taxes.
What I am about to say may come as a surprise to some and to others not. Our palates in the USA have been weaned on primarily Central American (non Cuban) tobacco and mostly Nicaraguan and Dominican. So when you find that first Cuban cigar and savor the forbidden fruit you may well find that it is not what the hype has made it out to be. Yes they are nice cigars, the benchmark for world of cigars some say, but over the years master blenders and rollers, soil analysts and farmers have been able to create some amazing smoking experiences with their blends and I would say quite a few rival if not surpass Cubans in quality and flavor.
As a perfect example, the new rave of Cuban cigars is the Cohiba Behike, you see it all over social media and it can cost upwards of $52 USD. So it must be one amazing smoke at that price, right? Well yes, it is an outstanding cigar. I picked one up when I was in Sweden last month, a Behike 52. It is a beautiful cigar, but after smoking it and thinking about the flavor and experience I have to say I would spend the money on a Padron 1926 instead.
I have also experienced some differences in the craftsmanship that the Cuban cigars are so well known for. The Partagas Serie D had some real burn issues and the Monticristo #4 coronas had an occasional draw issue on some sticks indicating to me a quality control issue in the factory. Don’t get me wrong here, the right Cuban can set your palate straight and I still judge all cigars I smoke against the Vega Robaina Double Churchill that I smoked 15 years ago in the Casa Del Habanos house in Nuremberg Germany that was an exception though.
So the doors may well open soon and you will most likely gravitate to the once forbidden fruit in the shop humidor, you may like it but then again I think you will find it is just another fine smoke and not something you should forsake your current favorite blends for that earned your loyalty and trust in flavor and craftsmanship.