Cuban Cigars: What’s the Deal?

If I had a nickel for every time somebody asked me (or freely shared his opinion) about Cuban cigars, I’d probably retire to a private island. Seriously.

“Are Cuban cigars really better?”
“Do you sell Cuban cigars?”
“I only smoke Cuban cigars, they’re the best.”
“It’s good, but it’s no Cuban!”

I was walking out of a prime rib restaurant, Opus X in hand, when a passerby accosted me. “That a Cuban?” he asked, big dumb grin on his face. In that moment I realized that many non-cigar smokers simply don’t know what else to say.

“Yup,” I replied deadpan, unwilling to waste my time explaining how tobacco disease and manufacturing inefficiencies that have led to a plummet in quality control, or how their current legal status means you pay a ridiculous premium, and even then, there’s no guarantee you’re even getting the real McCoy.

Look, I have enjoyed my share of Cuban cigars. Are they good? In a word, yes. When they’re good, they’re damn good…there is no denying it. And they DO offer something that you won’t find anywhere else; such is the nature of terroir.

If you’ve got the money, inclination, daring, and time to find a good source of illegal cigars, then good for you. But there is so much more to cigars than that Island South of Miami, as brands like Tatuaje, Rocky Patel, Oliva, Perdomo and so many others continue to prove.

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  1. Bryan Hassler says:

    AMEN!!!! Ive tasted only a few cubans. I’m puffin on a Perdomo Patriarch. I’d put that one up against any cuban.

  2. James E Gaydos says:

    From my on personal experience, the Cubans I have tried, were nothing to brag about. Though they have be very expensive. I have had cigars given to me as a gift from an acquaintance that sometimes works on an island very close to Cuba. They sucked, or should I say the draw was impossible, and they had no flavor. I bought some from an online dealer, and they were no better. Lots and lots of money to experience the Cuban, all wasted. H Upmann #100 Robusto is one of my favorites, the ones from Cuba were not even close. One of the last things I read about Cuban Cigars, was that 95% of the cigars coming from Cuba were fakes. I could go on and on about this, the DR’s and Hondurans are the best.

  3. Robert Mattson says:

    Recently I managed to get my hands on several Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure # 2 cigars from Cuba. I let ‘em rest for 2 weeks and finally sparked one up. Was it good? Very. Was it phenomenal? No. I wondered how much I’d been influenced by the 90 rating it recieved in Cigar Afficianado, my anticipation at smoking a real Cuban, the slight anxiety I’d had wondering if I’d get busted while I waited for them to arrive or the whole myth thing that surrounds Cuban cigars. Later that day I smoked a Padilla Habano and found the experience to be equally pleasant. I’ll let the others rest a little longer and try again but I’m not expecting an epiphany…just a good cigar.

  4. Buffalo Spirit says:

    I concur, I smoked a few in my day (Cubans) and I don’t like em enough to pay those crazy prices. One observation I’ve made over the years is that all or almost all the “Greats” left for other places in the area after Fidel took over and it’s these Guys that are making the ones we Love so much. I think having all the different tobaccos coming from different countries gives them (the tobacco co.s)a whole lot more to work with so far as building that perfect blend. Cuba has a few/couple areas to grow the leaf so there can’t be that much diversity with their puros. And don’t laugh I don’t smoke them Because they are not legal to smoke and I wouldn’t do such a thing really I wouldn’t

  5. Guy Buscema says:

    Dear Friends,
    It is quiet obvious that you all never had a REAL Habanos,Espeascially Bryran Hassler,To comprare a PERDOMO Patriarch, or not, is a real misunderstanding of what is a Habanos really about. I think you sould smoke a real one before coming out with such a Statements. I would never buy a so callled cigar first in Mexico or The Cayman Is; for I know about fakes for Americans.
    I don’t say the Cubans are the best but they are not the worst you Americans make them out to be and I’M NOT A COMMUNIST.The rest of the smoking world likes them conprared to N.C.’s which are taken as curiousity items .Cubans are great, at least the real ones are.There has never really been a taste for Cubans in the states anyway and that goes back all the way to the CLEAR HAVANAS and with the green cigars, the fashsion of the times.So .GET THE WHOLE STORY right first and then we can talk.
    Guy Buscema ,
    Calvisson, FRANCE