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The Dark Side: Ten Things About Cubans You Don’t Know And Need Too

Posted by dabyrdman33 on July 16, 2010

Confessions of a Cuban Cigar Smoker


Ten Things About Cubans You Don’t Know And Need Too


I realize that with these titles it could come to seem as if I’m presenting myself as an expert. I’m not an expert. I know Jack and shit about cuban cigars and between you and me I don’t even know Jack all that well. But if you are reading this I might know a little more than you and I only know it because someone taught it to me. Now I’m gathering the little knowledge I have to share with you, hopefully you’ve got a thimble somewhere to store it in.


Going forward I’ll be using italics to show where a review might be hidden in my normal ranting. As I sit here writing this I’m staring at a Montecristo D, the 2005 Edicon Limitada. The ELs, as they are known, are special cigars with 3 to 5 different ones being produced every year since 2000. It’s rough and dry with some oily spots on the wrapper. It’s still an impressive cigar but less so than I thought it would be. You see I think there are more people that have seen a leprechaun riding a unicorn than there people who own this cigar, and fewer still that would release them into General Population. Before this gorgeous 10 count box came into my possession I’d never actually seen one in the flesh as it were. The box is a gorgeous little ten count contraption stacking the sticks in a 3-4-3 configuration, but the look of the cigars leaves something to be desired.


Anyway on to what you need to know about what you need to know.


If you’re adverse to doing more than walking in a store and picking up a flashy label this side of the hobby is not for you.


This side of the hobby requires work. Reading, testing and internalizing knowledge. For example how helpful is it too know that 1999-2001 are less than stellar years of CC production and many of the blockbuster sales you see “around” are those cigars? Or even to know that Cubans from different years can have different taste characteristics. Or to know that CC means Cuban cigar and NC means noncuban cigar? Or what a box code should look like, or what fakes look like, or how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if….well you prolly take my point.


Because CCs are allegedly less available than NCs and most American magazines have their noses so far up their own ads…… wait I mean ass, they simply do a miserable damn job of covering the whole world of cigars. You gotta reach, dig crawl and explore to know heads from tails. I’ll give you a pointer or two in the right direction: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars and The first one is the end all be all collection of information on CCs up to about 2002. The second is a group of men and women who LIVE for the Cuban leaf. Start there, take it where you need to go.


No matter where you smoke a CC if you are an American, it’s illegal.


Most people believe that when they sneak off to Bora Bora and a man walks up with a duffel bag full of Cubans and you buy one and believe that this is OK. But it ain’t. First Pedro prolly dicked you (more on that in a moment) and secondly it’s still illegal. If you smoked a CC on the moon it would still be illegal. I’ve always thought of it as the same level of illegal as say, tearing the tag off your mattress, but it’s still illegal. There are fines associated, and at least two Americans have earned some jail time. One of them got caught at the border with almost 900 boxes in a U-Haul and the second had about 200 boxes…….and 25 keys of columbian boom boom. They tacked the 3 years for the cubans on as a kind of “No this muthaphukka didn’t….”


The D has flamed up nicely It tastes of smoky paper, pecans and white pepper. Also some gorgeous cinnamon notes in this baby. It’s fabulous but the stick smokes anemically, it just doesn’t make enough smoke to get me the level of engagement I like. It’s also got this annoying paper taste heavy on a short uneven finish. The taste annoys me because as a rule I don’t normally buy Montes and I don’t appreciate paper up front as the prominent taste. The descriptor ragged comes to mind to describe it.


OK back on track.


Large quantities of CCs available for sale are fakes.


The professional estimates are that between 80%-90% of CCs being sold are fake. Going back to number 1, the more you know the less likely you are the one smoking the fakes. And speaking of fakes…….


If you see a man on a beach, on a dock, in a foreign 7-11, etc carrying 500 cigars that typically sell for $22 each and selling them for $3.30 each what do you actually think is happening?


So many people who think CCs are so bad got them on a dock, or on a beach, or a fishing boat, etc. I mean if a guy walked up to you on a beach with a big ass bag of Rolexs and he told you his brother’s wife’s cousin’s father’s aunt worked at the factory and sneaked these out would you buy one?




Are you that not smart?


Hell you’re the guy that actually believed her when she says “It’s not you it’s me” or that was actually her cousin you heard in the background when you called her at midnight aren’t you?


Don’t you think that if that person could sneak 400 boxes of cigars out of Cuba that broad would sneak herself out of Cuba instead? I mean living high on the hog in Cuba entails eating TWICE a week. It aint the land of milk and honey, Hell most Cubans have never seen milk nor honey!


Don’t you think Cuban cigars, the premier cigars in all the world that isn’t America, would be all even lengths, colors and shades rather than look like a fucked up ass box of brown only crayolas? Don’t you think Cuban marketers put their cigars in boxes that don’t look they could be used to store rotted fruit? Don’t you think a Cuban cigar band would look like it wasn’t produced on a dot matrix printer?


There are no Cuban cigars in glass top boxes, especially glass top boxes that are actually plastic topped. Be real with yourself and catch a clue or start buying your Rolexs on the beach brother.


With the D the paper taste becomes heavier and more pronounced if smoke is held in the mouth. It’s almost pregnant with it. The pecans become almost creamy and coats the mouth hanging on long after the smoke is exhaled. It still takes 4 to 5 good puffs to work up a mouthful of smoke but when it loads up it’s worth it. Cinnamon is creeping heavier and heavier into the top of the finish adding texture and evening it out. The smoke you get, little as it is, has nuance and character to it that can’t be beat.


CCs are typically smaller cigars compared to their CCs counterparts.


5000 square foot houses and 760ILs, big is the American way. It shows in our cigars, with a large majority of them being, well, large. More and more 60 ring gauges pop up on the market every day it seems, and that is OK. But the Cubans don’t seem to be succumbing to our urges although estimates say upwards of 70% of what they make ends up here. It would actually be more accurate to say that they are listening slowly as they are phasing in many 50-56 ring gauges and phasing out smaller thinner cigars. But the greater majority of their cigars are thinner and shorter than your local B&Ms selection. Get used to it.


Just focus on how good it is instead of how much of it there might be.


With the D the finish becomes less ragged, pecans become warmer. They almost seem toasted, the paper is heavier in the mouth than the pecans its less pleasant than the nuttiness being the more mature flavor. The cigar is just good, at $200-$250 for a ten count box it needs to be much better than it is at the moment.


CCs are typically not as strong as CCs.


There are Cubans that have significant strength. However there are no CCs that kick you in the taint and take your lunch money the way a Double Chisel does. It has just never happened like that for me personally. We tend to mistake power for flavor, and those who do will read that Cubans lack flavor. That is not the intent of my comment. I’ve had CCs that taste of strawberry milkshakes, or vanilla ice cream. I’ve had CCs reminiscent of peppers and steak. Cubans, for me, present flavors that NCs only dream of. But strength, that they don’t present that in the same way NCs do.


Strength is not flavor.


I’ll say it all again: We tend to mistake power for flavor, and those who do will read that Cubans lack flavor. That is not the intent of my comment. I’ve had CCs that taste of strawberry milkshakes, or vanilla ice cream. I’ve had CCs reminiscent of peppers and steak. Cubans, for me, present flavors that NCs only dream of. But strength, they don’t present that in the same way NCs do.


Aging is measured in years.


I’ve heard people say a cigar would be better if they waited a week or maybe a month to smoke it. The chemical changes that happen in a cigar are glacial in nature. The book, as we refer to it, has reams of data that indicate that this process take 5-6 years until the end of the first maturation of the tobaccos.


Sobering news but the upshot is it’s worth it. A full matured Cuban, well in my book the few I’ve had are untouchable.


Fortunately CCs no longer require it.


Cubans go from leaf to plant faster than NCs. Pre 2005 cubans required a year to three of age to be palletable, before that time they just weren’t a very enjoyable smoke. However as an example the 2008 Cohibas, a brand known to require a 5 year nap to come into its own, are smoking as well as my 01 Cohibas. OK you caught me, only almost as well, but certainly well enough that I’m OK skipping the premium on aged cigars and smoking them fresh these days.


CCs are not better than non cubans.


This last point sounds strange from the mouth…….or rather fingers of someone who 98% smokes Cubans but here it is: CCs ain’t better, just different. For my money I GREATLY prefer them to NCs but there are many who prefer NCs. In my opinion most of those people are basing that preference on fakes but I do know a couple of gentlemen with the knowledge and capital to smoke whatever they please who prefer nothing more than an Avo when they smoke. Hey there are also people willing to let a carny who struggled with third grade arithmetic measure their bungee jumping cords, to each their own.


The wisest words I can give you in this regard is this old chestnut: Smoke what you like and like what you smoke.



The D ends flat to me for the last, boring and uninteresting. I expected much more from this baby, let’s see I time improves my opinion.


Appearance – 8

Construction – 8

Flavor – 7

Value – 8

Overall Experience – 7


Overall Grade – 8.0


Notes: Exceptional cigar that has matured earlier and better than it’s younger siblings. If this one was more forthcoming with smoke it could have scored much higher, I’m holding out hope for the next nine.


Until next time,


4 Responses to “The Dark Side: Ten Things About Cubans You Don’t Know And Need Too”

  1. BandBCigarClub said

    GREAT!! I love it and I learned something from it. Thank you

  2. JoseFloresJr said

    Great article man. It was funny but very informative, that kept me interested to read the whole thing. Glad it wasn’t just some boring lecture on Cubans. Keep up the good work guys.

    • Addiction said

      Thankfully I don’t know enough to give a boring lecture on Cubans, but I’m finding it out one stick at a time……

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