Cuban Cigars? Thanks, but No, Thanks!

if you care to hear my opinion, I'll be blunt. I don't like Cuban cigars. I think they are over-hyped, overpriced, over-counterfeited, and yes, inferior. They are inferior in the quality of farming, curing, fermentation and construction - pretty much all aspects of cigar making. There may, of course, be exceptions here and there, and I can't make an assessment about all Cuban and all non-Cuban cigars. But, on average, I stand firmly behind my statement.

Aside from its historical significance, there is nothing in Cuba today that would make Cuban cigars superior to non-Cuban cigars. Yes, they have the right soil and the right climate for great tobacco production in the Pinar Del Rio valley. However, that is a relatively small area, and the harvests are not always perfect. Add to that less than optimal agronomy methods, and you have left with scarce quantities of good tobacco - not even close to the amount needed to produce enough good cigars to meet the global demand.

Hence, the production of modern day Cuban cigars suffers the consequences of compromise. They are forced to compromise for shortages of good tobacco, lack of time and methods to properly ferment the tobacco, lack of time to properly age the tobacco, lack of skilled and motivated farmers, artisans, rollers, and on and on.

The picture is totally different in non-Cuban cigar manufacturing countries. The soil in most Dominican, Nicaraguan, Honduran, Ecuadorian and US farms has been cultivated for tobacco farming for several decades now. There is plenty of fertile land, time, money, people, motivation and incentive to produce cigars that will meet the highest of expectations.

Free market entrepreneurship, reputation and competition is what drives the makers of non-Cuban cigars. And that is why these master blenders - most of whom are Cuban exiles - produce a superior product at the best possible price.

How about the socio-political aspect of the business of Cuban cigars? Keep in mind this fact. Every time you buy a real or alleged Cuban cigar, you are doing one of two things. You are either lining the pockets of a few charlatans who are playing you for a fool by selling you a fake cigar, or you are strengthening the disposition of the oligarchs and the politburo members of the Cuban dictatorship. And to top it all off, you are breaking the law of the land.

That's the way I feel about the whole Cuban cigar phenomenon. Your feelings may differ and I respect that. But this is the reason you will not find any Cuban cigars at my shop.


Sarkis Ekshian