There is nothing to match a genuine Cuban cigar. It is one of the finest and most enjoyable indulgences of all. Cigar lovers understand that Cuba is the place where the best cigars are made, and they are very much sought after.
The problem with luxury items such as cigars is that there is profit to be had in making and selling fakes. Cheap, inferior products masquerading as the ‘real thing’ are commonplace in the cigar world, and even experts have been duped by some of the more impressive facsimiles.
How do you tell a fake Cuban cigar from the real thing? There are a number of tell-tale signs you should know about, so let’s have a look in more detail.
Know Your Packaging
The best Cuban cigars are made by seasoned experts, and packed by seasoned experts! There are certain things you should look for on the packaging of your cigars. First, you need to make sure that the ‘Habanos’ label is present, and also stamped on the bottom of the box. Also, you need to check for the required ‘Cuba Guarantee’ seal.
Now, the presence of these does not mean that you are NOT buying counterfeit goods – some of them are very, very difficult to spot – but the lack of any of these means you most certainly are. Familiarise yourself with these seals and stamps. Poor colour, substandard print quality and uneven placement are all signs you should walk away.
Be aware that there are known examples of fake top brands in very good replica packaging, but it is never perfect, simply because the counterfeiter needs to keep costs down. With a bit of experience, you will soon spot the fake among the genuine articles.
If The Price is Too Good to Be True…
…you’re most likely buying fake cigars! Many such items are offered at very inviting and amazingly cheap prices, which make them an offer that is hard to resist. However, even the novice fine cigar aficionado knows that a genuine Cuban cigar is not a cheap item; it’s a premium product, and you expect to pay the going price. Just as a $50 Rolex – which looks just like the real thing – is a fake, so is a ten dollar Cuban premium cigar! Don’t be tempted, you want the real thing.
Check Inside the Box
A good set of fine Cuban cigars will look perfect in the box: the colour will be uniform, the size will be as close to exactly the same for each one, and they will be banded perfectly to line up next to each other. If anything is even the slightest but out of line, question it before you buy. Cuban cigar makers are proud of their tradition and reputation, and put a lot of time and effort into presentation: counterfeiters often don’t.
Steer Clear of Glass
One frequently seen fake Cuban cigar ploy is that in which the neatly presented, seemingly genuine cigars are sold in a very attractive wooden box with a clear of glass lid. Be aware these are definitely fake. Cuban cigars are NEVER sold in glass fronted boxes, it just doesn’t happen.
Know Your Brands
The fakers will, of course, focus on the known brands, as these are the easiest to sell. One way to be sure of avoiding scams and fakes is to learn all you can about the brand. For example, some brands are only ever sold in certain quantities. One of the most exclusive brands – Cohiba Behike BHK – is a good example; these very rare and wonderful cigars come in boxes of 10, and only in boxes of 10, so any other quantity you may be offered – at a seemingly too good to miss price – is not the real thing.
Cuba is the home of the world’s finest cigarettes, and each year they release three sets of ‘Edicion Limitadas’ – limited editions. These are tightly controlled and aimed at collectors, and they are also well-documented. There is a website that documents the issues of Edicion Limitadas – which are heavily faked and sought after – so you can see which brands were part of the edition in which year. Pay attention, as you will be offered fake limited editions at some point!
The above are a few tips as to how to spot a fake Cuban cigar over a genuine article. One final tip we will offer is this: find a reputable retailer – not someone off the street who claims to have a collection and is willing to offload some on you – and build a relationship with them. That way, you can be sure that what you buy is the real thing, and you will also have the guarantee of quality service.
A fine cigar is a thing of wonder – make sure yours are the real thing!