How to Spot a Fake Cuban Cigar
For the American cigar smoker, Cuban cigars are the holy grail. They have long been considered the height of luxury in the cigar industry and have become synonymous with the lavish lifestyle alongside brands like Rolex and Bentley. Although the cigar community realizes that Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic make cigars equal to if not superior to Cubans, they still have an air of mystery about them.
It is because of this, casual smokers can often be tricked into buying what they think are real Cuban cigars. It is a common tourist trap on cruises and resorts around the world. To avoid falling victim to a fake Cuban cigar, there are a number of steps to take. The first and most important is to visit an authentic Cuban cigar shop like the Casa del Habanos. However, if this is not an option, there are a few other tricks you can use.
Your first step in spotting a fake Cuban cigar is to examine the box that I came in. Similar to US currency, Cuban cigar boxes come with a lot of extra makers to help distinguish them from fakes. Seeing as the fake Cuban cigar business is a multi-million dollar a year enterprise, this seems like a relatively smart move.
The Habano’s seal is always going to be in the top right corner of the box, so if you see it anywhere else, it’s a dead giveaway. To the left, you should see a green label that is the Cuban guarantee, along with a holographic image on the side of the label. On the bottom, you want to make sure you find a stamp of approval. Lastly, no Cuban cigar box comes with a glass top, so if you see one, just turn around.
This might be a little tough for a beginner, but for anyone who has smoked a real Cuba, the bands are a dead giveaway. Many of the Cuban brands have very distinct labels. To the casual observer, they may look real, but if you take a few minutes to examine, you’ll start to see some blatant flows, especially with the more well-known and popular brands.
Take Cohiba, for example. Cohibas are the most counterfeited of all the Cuban brands, but if you know what you are looking for, they are the easiest to spot. The bands have several minor marks that you can identify. For example, the head on the label should be a holograph. The white squares should be in nine rows with no square being cut off. The logo is also repeated on the holographic edges several times.
Before you even need to look at a box or band, you should enquire about the price of the cigar. Cuban cigars are quite expensive, especially in countries with a higher tobacco tax. Knowing the average price for these cigars, especially limited editions, will aid you in avoiding getting hosed.
For starters, if the price seems too good to be true, it is. Taking in several factors, a Montecristo No.2 costs around $10 in Cuba, where it is obviously the cheapest. If you find someone offering them to you for under that, walk away. Cohibas, such as the Edicion Limitada’s or Behikes are even easier to spot. These cigars retail, on average, between $30-$50, higher than that for the really limited ones. Any Cohiba you are being offered for $10 is fake.