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, the soil in the Pinar Del Rio region is very fertile, clay-rich and conducive to tobacco farming. However, the farming methods and agronomy are so antiquated and inefficient that the potential of the soil is not fully realized. Add to that incomplete and less-than-optimal fermentation of the tobacco, and you have cigars that are below par.

The soil, on the other hand, in most Dominican, Nicaraguan, Honduran and US farms have been cultivated for tobacco farming for at least 50 years now. With advanced and innovative farming and harvesting practices these fields are now among the best in the world.

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