So what is it, specifically, that makes Cuban cigars so great?
First off, it is important to understand that the tobacco used in the finest cigars is widely grown throughout South America, namely Cuba, Brazil, Cameroon, the Dominican Republic and Honduras. Because of this, cigars are an important part of the culture for each of these countries.
The immensely popular Cohiba is a brand of two distinct, albeit premium, cigars–one produced in Cuba under the state-owned tobacco company, the other produced in the Dominican Republic for a United States owned company. Those produced in Cuba are widely accepted among cigar enthusiasts to be much better—more flavorful and smooth.
This is because the Cuban-produced brand is filled with tobacco that is grown in the country’s Vuelta Abajo area. It also undergoes an extra, time-consuming fermentation process in which it is placed in wooden barrels to age for an undetermined amount of time. (Think of it as a fine wine or beer that takes longer to produce than its counterparts). In fact, back in 1992 only ten painstakingly selected fields, which totaled about 690 acres, were used to grow the tobacco for the Cuban Cohiba. The field’s exact location was kept a secret.
The Cuban version of the Cohiba was first established back in 1966 as a private brand with a limited production run. It was exclusively supplied to former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and his high-ranking government officials. The immensely popular Cohiba gradually developed a cult status, and was released for commercial consumption in 1982.
Cohiba’s flagship cigar—the Siglo VI—boasts some of the highest marks from blind reviews. It currently holds and impressive 90 percent from Blind Man’s Puff, a website dedicated to cigar reviews, and a 93 rating from Cigar Aficionado.
Blind Man’s Puff describes the experience of smoking a Cohiba as a mixture of spice, sweetness and earthiness: a solid, well balanced flavor, with a glimpse of coffee and chocolate notes.
Cohibas also carry a pretty hefty price tag, especially because Americans were largely barred from bringing them to the United Sates due to trade restrictions. A recent ease of travel restrictions by President Obama means that Americans will soon be able to purchase up to $100 of Cuban cigars on international travel.