Cigars are arguably Cuba’s most famous export, and there are a number of brands to get to know before you buy. Here are the top names to look out for if you’re in the market for some cigars.
Cuban cigars: don’t be fooled by the fakes © Alex Brown/Flickr
Normally the most expensive brand on average, Cohiba cigars were allegedly rolled specially for Fidel Castro. They were also given to visiting heads of state. These days anyone can buy one, usually for around $60-70 per piece, and the tobacco is extra fermented.
Not for the faint of heart, these strong cigars pack a real punch. Take it slow to enjoy the earthy, peppery flavors without getting sick.
Montecristo cigars in Viñales, Cuba | © Amber C. Snider
This brand is the biggest-selling in the world, with both new smokers and old hands enjoying the medium tobacco taste blended with flavors such as cocoa, coffee and vanilla.
These strong cigars come with a warning for beginners, who should smoke them slowly due to a strong tobacco taste. If you start off to fast you might get sick or flush, but those who can handle them will enjoy tangy, earthy flavors. The Royal Corona is particularly feted.
Cigar rolling © Guillaume Baviere / flickr
Romeo y Julieta
If you want to smoke your new cigar immediately, Romeo y Julieta are a good bet. They don’t need much aging to bring out the complex flavors.
These were reputedly the favorite cigars of John F. Kennedy, who reportedly bought every box he could find in the Washington D.C. area before signing the Cuban trade embargo in 1962. Experts say they are best after 10-15 years of aging, which brings out the flavors more.
One for the heads, this small brand is far from a household name. The company has been running since 1837, but it has always been a fairly small operation. There are three sizes available, all of which use full-bodied tobacco.
The Robaina family have grown tobacco since 1845, but only started making cigars in 1997. Current boss Alejandro Robaina is known for his great skill, and the cigars are made in the H. Upmann factory using wrappers from the family land.