Why Aficionados Say They’ve Smoked Their Last Cuban Cigar
Extinction of a Species – Hail the New King
I have fallen out of love with Cubans, You, like I may have noticed a recent change in Cuban Cigars, firstly, the price has skyrocketed, they are harder to find & the quality has dropped to the point where so many are un-smokable.
So I am going to tell you what I have done…I have stopped smoking the overpriced Cubans and found amazing substitutes that I now have fallen in love with…
But before I tell you the best substitutes, if you are interested let me tell you the reason behind the decline of the Cubans..
NOTE: If you can’t be bothered with the story and you just want to know the cigars I am now smoking ahead of the Cubans then scroll down to the…
‘If you smoked this, then you will love this section’.
For decades, Cuban cigars have been hailed as the epitome of luxury and craftsmanship in the cigar world. However, in recent years, a new contender has not only emerged, it has claimed the mantle as the best cigar-producing nation in the world. It’s been a revolution of sorts. So strong that the long-standing dominance of Cuban Cigars is actually over. In this article, we delve into the ‘dirty’ story behind the decline of Cuban Cigars and the reasons why cigar connoisseurs are now choosing Nicaraguan & the Top Dominican cigars over their Cuban counterparts as the first-choice stick to whack into their humidors.
Cuban Cigars Losing Grip
For decades, Cubans were celebrated as the finest cigars, renowned for their rich flavours and impeccable construction. The rise of Cuban cigars can be traced back to the 19th century when Cuba's fertile soil and favourable climate provided the perfect conditions for growing high-quality tobacco. The industry flourished, attracting global attention and establishing Cuba as the premier producer of cigars.
However, with the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and the subsequent U.S. trade embargo the very first cracks in Cuban cigar dominance started to appear. This was a major hit, but what we’ve seen happen over these past 5 years has turned what was a snowflake in the mid-20th Century into a complete avalanche in the 2020’s. This has led to a major decline in Cuban Cigar production and quality. This has had a huge impact on lovers of the Cuban leaf all over the world.
As you know, the prices of Cuban Cigars have been rising and rising steadily, while quality and availability have been free-falling.
Here’s the rub…
It all started in 2018 when a Chinese company, supposedly out of Hong Kong, aka: a ‘Hong Kong’ company, bought the entire world’s distribution of Cuban Cigars. A major issue that surfaced was the quality of Cubans had dropped off markedly over the preceding years and were being sold off cheaply in certain parts of the world. The control of distribution fell by the wayside and parallel importation of Cuban Cigars was happening in numerous regions, which exacerbated the problem.
Then the pandemic hit!!
Covid created an even larger problem for the Cuban Cigar industry. No money was coming in and this affected the standard of living right across the country. People had no food to eat. They were starving. That led to the people and workers alike to revolt. This struck like a lightning bolt, as it meant no Cuban Cigars were being produced.
While disastrous for the people of Cuba, it was ‘part-solution’ for the Chinese company. They used this to restrict the supply of Cuban cigars. Being guided by simple laws of supply and demand, the prices soared, quality diminished and with a quality assurance problem too far gone to be fixed, the whole ‘situation. Acted like a straw that broke the camel’s back for long-time Cuban Cigar lovers right across the globe.
They experienced first-hand the quality of Cuban Cigars, drop like a sinker over a 4 or 5 year period. Adding insult to injury they watched the prices of all their favourites Habanos’ skyrocket. This was all down to the available supply of Cubans in the marketplace, getting ‘hoovered’ up by the Chinese market.
A New No.1 Ranked Cigar Nation
This coincided luckily for us cigar lovers with the Rise of the Nicaraguans, over the last 15 years the best cigar makers in the world (many originally from Cuba) had moved their production to the fertile soil & perfect climate of Nicaragua & in the early 2020’s it was clear that the best cigars in the World were now clearly coming from Nicaragua and it now firmly holds the mantle of the No.1 Cigar producing nation in the world, not only on volume but also in quality & ratings from the Worlds cigar experts, including those who always favoured the Cubans
An Unknown Cuban Cigar Secret
Unfortunately, this is a ‘secret’ most people getting into Cigars are unaware of. Here at Cigar Box we’ve been smoking Cigars for over 25 years. We’ve been long-time advocates and smokers of Cuban cigars just like many people all over the world.
But around 3-4 years ago we ‘stopped!’
The shift in the industry, with quality dropping and prices soaring, we deepened our exploration of Nicaraguan Cigars. What we discovered just blew us away. The quality of cigars produced by the likes of God of Fire, My Father, Oliva, Nub and Tatuaje far surpassed those of their Cuban counterparts. Much loved Cubans we once smoked, had been superseded by Nicaraguans , and by some margin.
Nicaraguans v Cuban
Nicaragua is now the KING of Cigar production, volume and quality. We’ve seen over recent years, a range of Nicaraguan cigars receiving the highest possible accolades in cigar magazine’s such as Cigar Journal and Cigar Aficionados and the annual awards they pass on.
Now, we’re going to share with you some of the highly sought after Nicaraguan Cigars that we choose to smoke here at Cigar Box. These are examples of first-choice sticks we choose, our customers and most lovers of the leaf indulge choose over their Cuban equivalents…
‘If you smoked this, then you will Love this section’.
If you like the Cohiba Behike, then you will Love the Tatuaje RC. The Cigar maker that is known for making cigars most closely in the old Cuban Style is without a doubt Pete Johnson from Tatuaje fame, in fact when he started making cigars that was his exact stated aim, to make cigars with the depth of flavour of the old School Cubans. A few years ago, he sneakily released a blend of cigars in 3 sizes that may have been a little familiar to those who have a keen eye to the Cubans. That cigar brand was called RC (which stands for Retro Cuba), the 3 sizes he released were a 52 Ring gauge stick, a 54 Ring gauge Stick and a 56 Ring gauge stick and all uniquely adorned with a beautiful piggy tail cap. Yes, you guessed it exactly like the Cohiba Behike 52, 54 & 56. Well here’s the thing about these cigars, I have blind tasted it side by side with a Behike and I can hand on my heart tell you that it is equal if not better than the Behike. My personal stand out in the Tatuaje RC is the No.2 (54Rg), I just love it. Note: This is a very small production stick and is only made in small quantities and released outside of the US.
The Cohiba Behike is a unique cigar and at now between $400-$1000 per stick depending on if and where you can find them, I think they lost their value a long time ago.
Montecristo No.4 --> Oliva Serie V No.4
If you like the Montecristo No.4, then you will love Oliva Series V No.4. If you enjoy the Monte 4 , as it is affectionately known, then the two cigars we know you will love are the Oliva Serie V No.4 & the Tatuaje Noella, both of these cigars are similar in size to the Monte 4, with amazing flavour and taste with perfect construction. Everyone we have suggested the Oliva Serie V No.4 to instead of the Monte 4’s has never gone back.
The Tatuaje Noella has twice made it into Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 cigars of the year. Just exceptional.
Montecristo No.2 –-> My Father Le Bijou 1922 Box Pressed Torpedo
If you like the Montecristo No.2, then you will love the My Father Le Bijou Box Pressed Torpedo. The Monte 2 back in the early 2000’s was described as one of the Greatest Cigars of All Time, but it now has an equal, the My Father Le Bijou Box Pressed Torpedo was rated by Cigar Aficionado magazine as a 97pt cigar and was voted the No.1 Cigar of The Year.
The last Montecristo No.2 I smoked had under fermented tobacco in it and lacked complexity, I have never ever found this with delicious My Father Le Bijou 1922 Box Pressed Torpedo.
Bolivar Belicoso –-> Oliva Serie V Belicoso
If you like the Bolivar Belicoso you are going to love the Oliva Serie V Belicoso a 3-time Cigar Aficionado Top 25 Cigar of The Year. The Bolivar Belicoso has always been a great cigar for those in the know, but the Belicoso from Oliva has now garnered a reputation as the best Belicoso in its category with its full flavour and perfect construction. This is a flavour bomb.
Punch Punch –-> Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda
If you like the Punch Punch you will love the Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda
There is no doubt in my mind that this was made to be like the old-style Punch Punch’s, I smoked Punch Punch for many years until I discovered this cigar which is actually Pete Johnson’s private blend, the flavour and taste are amazing and of course, so is the construction. In fact, last year I gave one of these cigars to a client that only smoked Punch Punch cigars for the last few years, he was blown away and now he only smokes the Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda.
Romeo Y Julieta
Romeo y Julieta No. 2 & No.3 –-> Tatuaje Havana VI Angeles
If you like the RYJ no.2, then you will love the Tatuaje Havana Angeles
The issue with the RYJ No.2’s has always been inconsistency, some are good and some are plugged, not only is the flavour and taste amazing on the Tatuaje Angeles but the construction is flawless and unlike the Romeo Y Julieta No.2 & 3, the Tatuaje Angeles has rated so highly that it has featured in Cigar Aficionado Top 25 Cigars of The Year with a 93pts.
Partagas Series D No.4 & No.5 –-> Nub Habano Sungrown 358
If you like the Partagas Serie D No.4 or No.5, then you are going to Love the Nub Habano Sungrown 358. When I found the Nub Habano Sungrown 358 I was so excited, it reminded me of the D 4’s back in the day, it has that meaty spiciness that I just love and the construction is amazing, the thing you will find with the Nub Habano Sungrown 358 is how much tobacco there is in there compared to the Partagas D 4, lots of extra smoking pleasure without the draw issues.
H.Upmann No.2 –-> My Father Flor de Las Antillas Toro
If you like the H.Upmann No.2 you will Love the My Father Flor de Las Antillas Toro
Let’s start with the fact that both of these cigars have been a No.1 Cigar of the year according to Cigar Aficionado, they both have a creamy toastiness to them as well, and the construction on the Flor de Las Antillas is absolutely flawless, I think it is a better cigar and it’s at a way better price and reliability.