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Stogie News: A Good Five Cent Cuban?

13 Dec 2006

Cuban cigars are famous all around the world. The best known brands such as Montecristo and Cohiba (which received a rare 5 stogie rating for the Siglo V) are also some of the most expensive cigars sold, and they cost even more in the United States where the embargo on Cuba makes them contraband (and a high percentage of “Cuban” cigars are fake).

So that’s why we were fascinated by a story on Cuban cigars from the opposite end of the market. Long before the embargo, President Woodrow Wilson’s V.P. Thomas R. Marshall once remarked, “What this country needs is a good five cent cigar.”

Now according to this article, Cuba has answered the call with a local cigar that costs just one Cuban Peso (or approximately four cents). But that begs the question, are these deeply discounted Cubans any good?

Writer John O’Doherty enlisted two experienced two cigar merchants (Edward Sahakian of Davidoff and Paul Bielby of JJ Fox & Robert Lewis) to find out:

Reloba was by far the most prevalent of the brands available in the peso shops. They cost one Cuban peso each, about 2p. As with all hand-rolled cigars, one end has been sealed with tobacco leaf. Sahakian snips off this end with a small cigar-cutter, lights it and takes a slow, deliberate puff. “It’s not that bad,” he says, pleasantly surprised after I tell him the price. “But it’s a bit harsh.”

Bielby is more enthusiastic about the Reloba but is concerned with the way the cigar was rolled. A poorly packed cigar creates an uneven burn. Sure enough, as Sahakian and Bielby smoke their Relobas, the embers on one side race up the cigar, leaving the other side almost unburnt.

Both agree that the cigar was recently rolled and with fresh tobacco, and consequently not as mellow as a cigar that has been laid down for a few years. “There are many similarities between champagne and cigars,” says Sahakian. “They both need time to mature. From about seven to 15 years old, after they have mellowed, they will be at their best.”

For more on cheap Cuban cigars, read the rest of this Financial Times article.

Patrick S


2 Responses to “Stogie News: A Good Five Cent Cuban?”

  1. Anonymous Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 8:08 am #

    I could go for a four cent Cuban right about now. I don't care how old it is.

  2. Anonymous Thursday, December 14, 2006 at 5:16 am #

    I once paid $40 for a Cohiba… man did I get ripped off!