Are Cuban Cigars Really Better?
Here Are Five Reasons Why They Are Not
By Kaizad Hansotia
Given the prospect that the 50-year-old Cuban trade embargo may soon be being lifted, many in the tobacco industry are speculating about what this will mean regarding the mystique that surrounds Cuban cigars as the “forbidden fruit,” now that it’s no longer forbidden.
Will Cuban cigars still be considered superior? Will Cuban cigars retain their stellar reputation once they are no longer considered contraband?
Or has isolation and neglect of the Island Nation destroyed what was once a truly unique crop?
Top cigar companies such as Davidoff, Gurkha, Flor Dominicana, Padron and Pepin Garcia all produce premium cigars that can stand up and compete with a Cuban cigar any day of the week. By comparing the flavor profiles of Cuban cigars with the finest cigars from around the world, here are five distinct reasons why Cuban cigars are NOT better.
1. Cuban cigars are one dimensional in their flavor base. They don’t have the complexity that blended cigars have. The tobacco isn’t grown in different soils from other well-known tobacco nations such as the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua or Honduras for example. How can Cuba compete? What will Cuba do? The general consensus is that Cuba will not even try to compete. The Cubans will shy away from buying any tobacco made outside of their native country. But their biggest concern should be how introducing their tobacco to the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua will fare given that blends from those countries will continue to be made better.
2. Quality control outside of Cuba is 10 times better than it is inside Cuba. Hand rolling cigars is tiring and only the best rollers in the world can be consistent with their rolling style throughout their entire shift. Draw testing cigars is the best way to make sure they are not rolled too tightly or too loosely. Yet draw testing can slow down production, increase costs and is often overlooked. Tightly rolled cigars then pass through the line all too frequently.
3. The Communist regime has left its mark on half a century of workers. Wages are still low. Morale is low. Labor conditions are still poor and the labor force remains unmotivated.
4. Around the time that the Soviet Union began to fail, petroleum became scarce in Cuba. It became more difficult to rotate crops regularly. Animals like oxen and mules became more common in agricultural systems to rotate crops, but there remain rumors that the land has become bad for farming.
5. Once Cuba opens up, the demand for skilled rollers will increase elsewhere. Other countries, willing to pay more, will be able to lure quality workers away from Cuban factories. All of these changes will cause the already inflated prices of Cuban cigars to raise substantially as demand for greater wages will cause prices to increase 10 times the current rate.
In conclusion, while the demand for Cuban cigars will most likely increase in the short term once the embargo is lifted because even the casual cigar smoker will be interested to see what they’ve been missing all these years, it won’t be a permanent situation. The increased demand will probably cause a lower quality product, creating disappointment and sending the regular cigar smoker right back to his or her favorite brand. All of these points are, however, positive for the rest of the cigar-making world. Consumers will initially get their “fix” and be driven to better quality cigars made outside of Cuba.
Kaizad Hansotia is the CEO of Gurkha Cigars. Gurkha, known for creating the finest, most expensive cigars in the world, produces eight million cigars per year that are sold in more than 50 countries worldwide. The Gurkha Cigar Group Inc. is located at 6600 Hiatus Road, Tamarac, FL 33321. For information, visit www.gurkacigars.com.