When considering purchasing cigars, a question you may ask yourself is, “how will I know if these Cubans are genuine?”. Of course, the easiest way to ensure you’re getting the real deal is to shop through a quality supplier, such as Havana House, but if you’ve already picked up some stogies on the cheap or are heading to the States, then it can be handy to know the signs to look out for!
Unless you’re a true aficionado who has smoked more than their fair share of sticks, it can be quite easy to be fooled by counterfeiters, especially if their packaging is impeccable at first glance. However, there are some signs which will reveal whether or not the stogie you’re holding is actually Cuban or not.
Firstly, a Cuban cigar tends to have a naturally oily wrapper, with an even colouring. The veins of the leaf should be barely visible, or at the most, very fine. Unless you are purchasing figurados, then the cap of the cigar is usually flatter than the round caps seen on other cigar types. These caps will also be triple-seamed on a Cuban cigar. The foot of the stogie should be impeccably straight and clean cut. When it is smoked, the ashes should be entirely grey, meaning that if the ash contains black parts, then it may well be a fake.
If the cigar is bumpy and uneven, it will most likely be a fake. Likewise, if you are buying a whole box of cigars and the colours of each wrapper are different. Each cigar in a box should be almost identical, so clear differences in colouring, size, shape and texture are clear signs that something is amiss.
Buying a whole box can sometimes make spotting a fraudulent offer a little bit easier, as the specially made boxes are a little harder to fake, especially when you take a closer look at the details and stamps. The number one thing to look out for on the packaging (including on the bands), is spelling mistakes, as this is an easy giveaway.
Regardless of the brand, no box of Cubans will leave Cuba without the “Habanos S.A.” seal in the top right-hand corner, verifying it as a legitimate box of Cuban cigars. Therefore, if this seal is missing, then this is your first sign that the stogies are not genuine. Each box will also feature a warranty seal on the left, which looks a little like American green paper money. As a way to combat fakes, these warranty seals were updated in 2010, adding in a barcode on one side and a hologram on the other, and affixing this with a super-strong glue, making it far harder to fake. While hustlers in the Americas may try and replicate these marks with a laser printer, nothing can quite match up to the standards of the originals, so it can often be obvious when a box is real or not.
It’s no secret that top brand cigars aren’t the cheapest, so it’s easy to see why some may go off on a hunt for a bargain. However, if you are buying a fake cigar, you will be losing out on the quality experience which makes genuine cigars worth every penny. When looking to buy cigars, especially when abroad, you must consider how much you would expect to pay for the same product from a trusted retailer. You wouldn’t buy a £30 Rolex from some man on a beach, so why would you do the same with a box of cigars you know full well costs a minimum of £200!? Go in with a price in mind, and if it seems suspiciously low, then it’s probably a dodgy deal.
Have you had any experiences with fake cigars? Let us know via our social media channels. For genuine, quality Cuban cigars, check out Havana House.