is indeed a very famous brand of Cuban
cigar, but many
of the Cohibas on the market today are not
Cuban. Here's the scoop.
First of all, the brand is surprisingly new: the first Cohibas under
that name were only produced in 1968, 9 years after the Cuban Revolution, for the exclusive use of Fidel Castro and his guests at that.
However, the tobacco plantations and cigar factories that produce
what is today Cohiba have been around for a lot longer, so others
can with some degree of legitimacy claim to retain the heritage of
the "real" Cohiba.
Cuban Cohibas are still made in Havana, Cuba. This is the
"original" Cohiba, in the sense that this is the location where the
brand was developed, but during the Castro era the quality of
the cigars has, in the opinion of many, gone down from the golden days.
This has been noted as a problem in Cuba itself though, and
quality control has improved quite a bit lately.
- Identification: Gold, black and white label with the words "Cohiba" in
block print and "La Havana, Cuba" in script underneath. The black
label has precisely 4 rows of white squares (not circles), three of
which extend above the "Cohiba" text.
- Warning: This is the most counterfeited cigar in the world. Buyer
beware. And, of course, importing them into the United States is illegal.
Export Dominican Cohibas are made in the Dominican Republic by cigar
experts who left Cuba after the revolution. However, because the
island and its tobacco is different, the taste is also different from
Cuban Cohibas. Whether different means worse is a value judgement,
and these are generally regarded as excellent cigars as well.
The brand is owned by General Cigar Holdings Inc and is for export only;
you cannot buy these in the Dominican!
- Identification: Black, cream and red label with the word "COHIBA©"
in raised lettering in the center and "HAND MADE" on the right; often called "red dot"
Cohibas because the O is filled in red.
But there's more: the copyright to the name "Cohiba" in the Dominican Republic
for sale only in the Dominican is held by an unrelated operation!
These may not be sold in (or to) the United States, but you can freely
import them for personal use from the Republic. However, these are
generally regarded as the worst of the bunch, so you'll probably want to
- Identification: Otherwise identical to the Cuban Cohiba label,
except that "La Havana, Cuba" is replaced with "Republica Dominicana".
Wasn't that fun? So if you're going to go shopping for Cohibas, I'd
suggest careful examination of Cigar Aficionado's counterfeit gallery:
And good luck: a real, fresh Cohiba is definitely one of the most
enjoyable ways to get lung cancer.