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Atchley Siegal

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In the event you didn't create it to this year's XXI Habanos Festival, which celebrated the 500th anniversary of San Cristobal de La Habana, as the city of Havana was originally known as, or are about to embark for another nation where you can legally purchase Havana cigars (that will be practically anywhere else in the world except the USA, where it is prohibited to sell Cuban products), here are seven of the best brands in our embargoed neighbor we feel are well worth searching out. It is currently legal to bring back around 100 Cuban cigars--that's about four boxes--as long as they are for the private use and not for resale.

RELATED This Beverly Hills Whiskey Hideaway Feels Just Like a Private Club from the Wild West Among the World's Greatest BBQ Pitmasters Has Made the Supreme Guide to Steak But , some caveats. They're More rampant than everin Cuba--although currently Costa Rica is giving Mexico a challenge for the title of Most Counterfeit Cuban Cigars Per Square Mile. So be cautious. If anybody offers you a Cohiba Esplendido for $5, you are aware that it can not be real. A number of the top places to purchase authentic Cuban cigars will be the United Kingdom (where they are rigidly inspected by exclusive Habanos importers Hunters & Frankau), Spain--which also gets a few of the best Havanas--and also any of their official La Casa del Habanos Cuban government-sanctioned retail shops; there are now 90 of these internationally. Duty-free stores are also a safe haven for authentic Cuban cigars, even though we recently bought a three-pack of our enviable Montecristo No. two pyramids in Dubai International Airport and discovered them to be careless as far as taste was concerned (a consequence of poor leaf choice and inadequate aging). Plus, one of the cigars was rolled much too closely to permit an adequate draw. However, all three Montecristos were real Habanos products. This brings up the ongoing issue with Cuban cigars of quality control. This is confirmed by Mitchell Orchant, managing director of C.Gars, Ltd, one of the biggest purveyors of Cuban cigars in England, who also critiques the freshness of a cigars, that is, whether they had been aged sufficiently before being released. So a fantastic rule of thumb is, once you buy your Cuban cigars safely home, set them in your humidor for at least a month or two to give them a while to more fully develop the tastes that made Havana famous. Trinidad As well as celebrating the 500th anniversary of San Cristobal de La Habana (which also appears to be the title of a rather mild-smoking Havana cigar that was introduced in 1999 and showcased at the festival), the XXI Festival was spotlighting the Trinidad brand, that premiered in 1996 since Fidel Castro's VIP cigar to supplant the Cohiba, that began being publically sold in 1982. Last year, three new shapes have been introduced: a 4 1/2 x 50 media luna, a 5 7/10 x 53 Esmeralda, and a 4 11/12 x 56 Topes, that initially was a 2016 limited edition. Cohiba Still one of the most widely-counterfeited cigars on the planet, only buy these from dependable sources. The full-powered, large-ringed Behike is a high-priced smoke worth paying , only for bragging rights, with all the 54 and 56 ring gauges especially sought after. Another rarity is that the newly-launched Cohiba Robusto Reserva, and while we typically do not quote prices because of the fluctuating market for Cuban cigars, it is safe to say that these will normally run more than $100 a rod. Employing the best of three year old tobaccos, it is offered in just one size: a 4 7/8 x 50 robusto. Just 500 individually numbered boxes were released. For something milder (and clearly less expensive) try the Siglo VI. Montecristo In spite of our unsatisfactory experience in Dubai, the No. 2 pirámide stays our all-time favourite. To get a smaller smoke, try the No. 4--the best selling cigar in the world. Partagás This is really a porterhouse steak and Napa Cabernet smoke, in any dimension. However, in addition to the Series D No.4 Robusto, another favorite of ours is the newly-introduced 6 1/4 x47 Presidente, with its easy-to-light pinched foot and easy-to-clip Perfecto cap. Romeo y Julieta This is another cigar which never disappoints, especially for those in between times when you are not quite certain of what to smoke. Ideally suited to a Plymouth Gin martini (additional dry, olive on the side) or a Macallan 12 year-old Double Cask, we've recently switched from the Short Churchill into the bigger-ringed 5 1/4 x 55 Broad Churchill Robusto. Apart from offering a slightly fuller taste, it seems to be more physically fitting into the contours' namesake. H. Upmann Another fantastic medium strength cigar, this gentle smoke retains only enough earthiness to ensure it is suitable for early to late evenings. Orchant of C.Gars feels it's the finest in the H.Upmann variety and we agree. Do not fall into the preconception that Cuban cigars are powerful. This brand certainly isn't, although its potency will vary by shape. Thinking about using an Irish Whiskey and a cigar? Punch Subtly strong yet sleek, a Punch cigar has a rich, leathery finish. The Double Corona is a perfect match for a snifter of all X.O. Cognac. Vegas Robaina Medium-full in taste; the Vegas Robaina is among the most complicated and spicy Havanas around and perfect for any time after lunch and well in the evening. Cuaba The contours of all Cuabas are all figurados: a mild-mannered smoke ideal for the novice as well as the connoisseur who feels just like throttling down a little flavor intensity.

types of cigars