First, we have to say, as of this writing, it is illegal for US citizens to buy, consume or otherwise possess Cuban cigars anywhere in the known or unknown universe. That said, and we aren't telling you to do this, many people here in the US will purchase the forbidden fruit known as Cuban cigars. We'd like to lift the embargo, but that's outside of our current set of super powers.
We'd like to think that everyone in the worldwide cigar business is on the up-and-up, but, let's face it, many cigar sellers are looking to make a quick buck selling fake Cubans to "dumb" Americans. Cuban's usually carry a premium price and we've seen many people ripped-off in their quest.
Seasoned smokers will have a leg-up in making sure they are buying the real thing, although some fakes are pretty darn good -- so there is no guarantee that that illegal Cuban you're buying is, in fact, the real deal.
Take the cigars in this picture -- the Montecristo No 2. One is a fake, which a customer of ours smuggled into the country after a Caribbean cruise. The other is the real thing.
But, which one is which?
The cigar on the left has a nice oily sheen, well formed structure and perfectly printed band -- it's the real Montecristo No 2.
The cigar on the right has poor construction -- note the rough tip. The tobacco is actually slightly green -- a real Montecristo No 2 is a carmel color with no hint of green. Especially with the Montecristo No 2, you can examine the construction -- note the gradual taper of the real cigar vs. the abrupt tip construction of the fake. Finally, look at the band. While it says Montecristo and Habana -- what a real Cuban label should say -- the color is too dark and the print is off centered. Even in communist Cuba, branding is a science and the band has to be perfect on every cigar.
The customer that brought this fake cigar into the shop paid top dollar for what he thought was the quintessential Cuban Montecristo No 2 -- he was ripped-off.
He thought he was buying from a reputable source -- obviously not. And, some would say that he got what he had coming to him -- buying illegal cigars and smuggling them back into the States. We won't pass judgment on that situation, but, we will say he didn't get what he thought he was getting -- and that's just wrong.
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