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Where to buy and not buy your cigars in Havana, Cuba

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Animated tourist area in Havana

Animated tourist area in Havana

On my latest trip in Havana Cuba this Febuary, attending the XV Habano Festival where I had a great time, I decided to pay visit to a certain number of places where they sell cigars and try to evaluate what the cigar market is in this beautiful city and share some comments with you. I know that for some of you this will sound redundant but I’ll repeat it again. In Havana or anywhere else in Cuba, don’t buy cigars from street vendors, the very most of them being counterfeit or fake. They might look well rolled with a nice shiny cape adorned with an embossed ring that looks exactly like an original Cohiba for instance, but these guys are getting very refined in plagiarism and they’ll sell you badly rolled sticks made with bad quality tobaccos. And something I found funny is that mostly all street vendors all sell Cohibas, no Montecristos, no Partagas, nor Punch, « only the best Cohibas for you my friend »… Naaaa!

Casa del Habano in the historic Partagas real Fabrica de tabaco.

Casa del Habano in the historic Partagas real Fabrica de tabaco.

Now, besides these street re-sellers, there’s another « business » that’s flourishing right now in the city. The selling of whole boxes of authentic cigars. Bargain? Not so sure about that! Let’s have a closer look at  this.   From what I experienced, the business seems to be very well organized and very well supplied. Somebody, well dressed, will be standing by the door of a Casa del Habano for instance and offer you cigars very calmly. If you agree, you will then be taken to a residential house located one or two blocks away, will invite you in and once inside he will show you on the kitchen table, boxes full of Montecristos, Cohibas, Partagas, Ramon Alones, Romeo y Julieta etc. All real wood boxes with everything from the original silky Habanos S.A. certification papers, ribbons, labels etc. The only thing missing is the Habanos S.A. seal that’s sticked on the outside upper right side of the box and the dates underneath the boxes. These steps being usually done by Habanos S.A. These guys, and for 10CUC more will stick a real green government stamp on the box in case you want to take your purchase through the border. I examined those very carefully and I can pretend with hardly no doubt at all that these stamps are authentic. Alignement in boxes and the color order of the cigars in the boxes were perfect as well. As for the prices, let’s say they sell those boxes for one third of the cuban regular price. They offered me a box of Cohiba Siglo IV Linea 1492 for 125 CUC while at a Casa del Habano, I saw it sold for 321CUC. My opinion regarding all this system is that that the cigar companies, instead of selling anonymously and at cheap prices and by the unit or bulk with no bands their number two’s or the ones that didn’t pass the quality test controls, they prefer to sell them packed in standard boxes with all the regular accoutrements in order to sell them at a higher price thinking that selling those for one third of the price, cigar smokers, will do with it and accept that some of the cigars they just bought might have problem issues like tight draw or uneven burn for example. Don’t know about the final quality of these cigars since I didn’t buy any though. If somebody who experienced this type of purchase would like to give it’s impression on the quality of those products, feel free to comment.

Casa del Habano Hotel Melia Cohiba Havana

Casa del Habano Hotel Melia Cohiba Havana, Cuba

As for where to buy your cigars in Havana, Cuba, may I strongly suggest to always buy them at the official Cuban stores for cigars, the Casa del Habano shops. They are all over Cuba and everywhere in the world and sell exclusively Cuban cigars. In Cuba, they are all equipped, except maybe for a few older and or smaller ones, with walk-in humidors, a bar with Expresso coffee machines and smoking lounges.The choice is very up to the minute. Every new vitola gets to the Casa del Habano first upon release. Nobody besides Habanos S.A. is allowed to sell cigars to these stores so you can be sure about the authenticity of the product. They carry all the main brands and formats plus every Cuban Edicion Limitada of the current year and earlier one as well. They do have their exclusive Casa del Habano lines of cigars that they order according to their taste preferences from different producers along the year.

H.Upmann Robusto. Esclusivo Casa del Habano

H.Upmann Robusto. Esclusivo Casa del Habano Photo taken at the H.Upmann factory, Havana Cuba.

Cigar prices are the same in all Casa del Habano of the country. Casa del Habano stores are also well equipped with smoking accessories and humidors but the prices for these items are not the same everywhere. I noticed price differences up to 20% between shops for the same item, so be careful!  They also sell rhum, coffe, chocolate and other items that go well with cigars. The personnel is very knowledgeable and polite. They can guide you in your purchases and their expertise is solid. You will also be able to find some rareties and older boxes as well if you dig a little. So don’t be shy to have a look under the boxes to see the dates these sticks were made and look down the pile to find this gem you are looking for.

Tienda de Tabaco Mercaderes st. Vieja Habana

Tienda de Tabaco Mercaderes st. Vieja Habana

There are other cicar stores Havana. Many of them are ancient Casa del Habano stores that were sold along the way by Habanos S.A. to individuals for different reasons.You will find in these « Casa de Tabaco » or « Tienda del Habano » as the cubans call them, a smaller inventory of choice and products but chances are you will run into more rareties and older stuff. If you happen to develop a good relation with the owner or some of their employees, I bet it won’t be long before they open you their secret cave or put aside for you until your next visit a few boxes of surprises. They do sell rhum, coffe, chocolate and other items that go well with cigars too. Although these owners are honnest for most of them, just stay aware and keep an eye open. Carefully inspect everything you want to acquire.

I visited one of those Casa del Tobaco located at the Hotel Comodoro, hotel that I don’t recommend at all for staying at except for visiting this Casa del Tabaco called « La Escogida », and operated by Andre Reyes Gilbert, a very handsome and smiling man. His prices are very good and the service excellent. There used to be a house « Torcedor » named Santo but he unfortunately left at the end of Febuary. Had the chance to meet him and buy a small bunch of his « Coronas » that are just succulent. Let’s hope Andre found somebody to replace him. Definitely worth a visit even though the man is gone.

Avec Sasnto le Torcedor et Andres Reyes Gilbert, Casa de tobaco LA Escogida, Hotel Comodoro

Here with Santo the house « Torcedor » and Andres Reyes Gilbert, Casa de tabaco La Escogida, Hotel Comodoro

Here’s the adress: Casa de tabaco La Escogida, Hotel Comodoro,  Av 3ra y Calle 84, Miramar District

Entrée extérieure de la Casa del Tabaco La Escogida, Hotel Comodoro, La Havane

Front window of la Casa del Tabaco La Escogida, Hotel Comodoro, Havana, Cuba

Other recommended shops but not visited:

Hotel Tryp Habana Libre Calle 23 entre L y M, Vedado +537 834 61 11

Hotel Parque Central, Boutique Cuaba, Calle Neptuno entre Prado y Zulueta, +537 868 18 38

Here’s the list of all the Casa del Habano in Cubahttp://www.lacasadelhabano.com

Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Ciego Avila.
Address: Hotel Meliá Cayo Guillermo
Phone: (53 33) 30 1632
Fax:
Email:
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Ciego de Avila
Address: Hotel Blau Colonial, Cayo Coco.
Phone: (53 33) 30 1121 . Hotel (53 33) 30 1311
Fax:
Email:
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Cienfuegos
Address: Blvd. Centro Histórico. Avenida No. 54, esq. a 33.
Phone: (53 43) 55 2144
Fax:
Email:
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Ciudad Habana
Address: 5ta Avenida y Calle 16. Miramar. Playa
Phone: (53 7) 214 4737
Fax: (53 7) 204 7975
Email: lcdh.5tay16@gmail.com
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Ciudad Habana
Address: Melia Habana. Avenida 3ra e/ 76 y 80. Miramar. Playa
Phone: (53 7) 204 5289
Fax:
Email: casahabano_meliahabana@yahoo.es
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Ciudad Habana
Address: Hotel Melia Cohiba, 1ra y 3ra, Vedado.
Phone: (53 7) 835 2434 . Hotel: (53 7) 833 3636 Ext. 2797
Fax:
Email:
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Ciudad Habana
Address: Fabrica Partagas / Calle Industria No.520. Habana Vieja
Phone: (53 7) 866 8060 / 862 37 72
Fax:
Email: partagas@tuch.cha.cyt.cu
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Ciudad Habana
Address: Hotel Nacional / Calle 21 y O. Vedado
Phone: (53 7) 873 3564 Ext. 176
Fax:
Email:
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Ciudad Habana
Address: Hotel Palco / Calle 11 y 146, Cubanacan. Playa
Phone: (53 7) 204 7235
Fax: (53 7) 204 7236
Email: tiendas@hpalco.palco.cu
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Ciudad Habana
Address: Club Habana / 5ta Ave. y 188 a 192. Playa
Phone: (53 7) 204 5700
Fax: (53 7) 204 5705
Email: mons@clubhabana.palco.cu
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Ciudad Habana
Address: Hostal Conde Villanueva / Calle Mercaderes Esq Amargura
Phone: (53 7) 862 9293
Fax:
Email: comercial@condevillanueva.co.cu
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Holguin
Address: Hotel Villa Turey Guardalavaca, Zona Residencial, Playa Guardalavaca
Phone: (53 24) 4 3431
Fax:
Email:
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Varadero
Address: Calle 63 y 1ra Avenida, Varadero, Matanzas.
Phone: (53 45) 66 7843
Fax:
Email: habanos.calle63@mtz.caracol.cu
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Varadero Plaza América
Address: Galeria Comercial las Américas. Centro de Convenciones Plaza América. Autopista Oeste Km 6, Varadero, Matanzas.
Phone: (53 45) 66 8181 / 66 8161
Fax:
Email: comercial.jdpto@hoteles.caracol.cu
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: La Habana
Address: Hotel Habana Libre, Calle L e/ 23 y 25, Vedado, Ciudad Habana, Cuba
Phone: (53 7) 834 6111
Fax:
Email: habanoshabanalibre@cchl.caracol.cu
Web:
Address: Pueblo La Estrella, Cayo Santa María, Cayaría Norte Provincia Villa Clara
Phone: (53 42) 35 01 34
Fax:
Email: lch.santamaria@gmail.com
Web:
Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Varadero
Address: Calle 1era y 39, Varadero, Matanzas.
Phone: (53 45) 61 4719
Fax:
Email: pyz.micuba@mtz.caracol.cu
Web:

Happy Smoke!

CERTIFIED MEDALLION - jpeg

     

 
8 commentaires

Publié par le 14 avril 2013 dans English

 

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8 réponses à “Where to buy and not buy your cigars in Havana, Cuba

  1. Dan Leroux

    23 décembre 2013 at 1503 52

    I purchased boxes at 1/3 price as mentioned early in the post, and a few sticks had very bad draws and were rolled tighter than sardines, but for the majority the tobacco blend and taste was identical to my palate. Very good article btw…

     
  2. Carine Jones

    2 mai 2014 at 808 20

    Hello, I am going to Varadero next week. You seem to be an expert on this subject and I was wondering if you could steer me in the right direction. I do not smoke cigars or know anything about them, I would like to purchase a box for my husband as a surprise. Could/would you please recommend what I should purchase and where, I guess the « best bang for my buck ». Also, I would like to bring them back to Canada in a box as he does have a humidor to put them in. How many can you bring back to Canada or is it not allowed? Hoping to hear back from you, I enjoyed reading your article. Thank you in advance.

     
    • cigaresdr

      2 mai 2014 at 1212 46

      Hello! First, thank you for your interest.

      As for your questions, here are a few answers:

      1. In Cuba, always buy your cigars at Casa del Habano stores, the official Cuban retail cigar stores.

      Here are the adresses of their 2 locations in Varadero:

      Address: Calle 63 y 1ra Avenida, Varadero, Matanzas.
      Phone: (53 45) 66 7843
      Email: habanos.calle63@mtz.caracol.cu

      Cuba Zone: Cuba City: Varadero Plaza América

      Address: Galeria Comercial las Américas. Centro de Convenciones Plaza América. Autopista Oeste Km 6, Varadero, Matanzas.
      Phone: (53 45) 66 8181 / 66 8161
      Email: comercial.jdpto@hoteles.caracol.cu

      Please don’t buy cigars from individuals on the streets, restaurants, beaches, hotels, they will be fakes or cigars that didn’t pass the quality tests at the manufacture. Some hotels have walk-in humidors but you will pay higher prices than Casa del Habanos. Still, these cigars will be of good quality though and not fakes. Maybe worth it if you don’t feel like going out of the resort you’ll be staying at for example if any. I am pretty sure there are some cheap and safe shuttles to take you to the Galeria Comercial las Américas from your hotel.

      2. As for boxes, cigars are packed in many different boxes and packages. As for a gift, I would suggest you buy a box of 25, the most common « real » smoker package. There are also boxes of 10’s, These are for more exclusive and or top quality cigars (Cohiba Behike, Bolivar Libertador or H.Upman Royal Robusto Esclusivo Casa del Habano for example) Expect to pay between $11 and $25 per cigar for these brands.

      3 Each canadian can bring back 50 cigars in Canada. Please keep your invoices close by in case Cuban (on your way out of Cuba) as well as Canadian Immigration would want to check if the cigars you are bringing back are fakes or not but this procedure is very rarely applied. Put your boxes UNOPENED and in the middle of your suitcase so the box doesn’t get dammaged during transportation and inside a ziploc sealed bag to keep the humidity inside your box. I suggest you put your purchase in the ziploc bag upon your arrival at your room once you bought them. A 1 foot square bag should be big enough to put your box in. Dry air being the worst enemy of cigars and please never store cigars in a refrigerator or freezer, these are the driest places on earth.

      4. Make sure you buy a box that’s coming from the walk-in humidor and not from the cash counter or other display. This way you are sure the cigars are not dry or over humidified.

      5. As for what to buy and not knowing your husband’s tastes or preferences, here are a few suggestions that Casa del Habanos keep regularely in stock. In Cuba, you will not find anything else than cigars made in Cuba.

      All the cigars suggested here are available in boxes of 25 or other when specified. Expect to pay $6.50 to $7 minimum for a premium and hand rolled Cuban cigar.

      Full Body (strong):
      Bolivar Royal Corona $8/each or so.
      Bolivar Belicoso Finos $8/each or so.
      Romeo Y Julieta Churchills $11/ or so.
      Romeo Y Julieta Short Churchills $7/each or so.
      Romeo Y Julieta Belicosos $8.50/each or so.
      Partagas Serie D No 4 $8/each or so.
      Partagas Lusitanias $10/each or maybe a little more

      Medium Body (medium strenght):
      Hoyo de Monterry Epicure Especial or No.2 Between $7 and $9 each or so.
      H.Upmann Magnum 46 or 48 or 50 Between $7 to $10/each.
      H.Upmann Royal Robusto Esclusivo Casa del Habano $10/each or so. Boxes of 10.
      Montecristo No 2 (Cigar of the year 2013 in Cigar Aficionado magagazine) $20/each or so.
      Montecristo No 3 $9/each
      Montecristo Edmundo Not sure of the price but not cheap. Probably around $20/each.

      If your husband plays golf, I will suggest you the Montecristo OPEN Serie. Dedicated to golfers, there are four sizes ans vary between $7 and $15/each or so.

      So, hope infos ans suggestions help you make the right choices and help you get your husband happy.

      Have a good trip!

       
  3. Ike

    24 août 2014 at 101 14

    I bought 2 boxes of fake Cohibas (knowingly) for 50$ both. I already smoked a few. I have real Cohibas also. I can tell you this: for someone who is not an expert, the fake Cohibas are still fine especially for the fraction of the price they cost. I think it is worth it. When the excursion guide saw them with me, he told me that the quality of those cigars is not good, but it is still Cuban tabaco, so for non expert as myself, they will still be good. I am enjoying them the same as the real ones.

     
    • cigaresdr

      27 août 2014 at 1111 55

      I guess you were lucky. I did as well buy « fake » Cohibas as I was coming out of a cigar factory visit. Paid $50 for a wooden box of 25 Linea 1492 Cohibas. Tobacco was Cohiba tobacco for sure. The only thing is that these were number two’s. This means that these cigars didn’t pass the quality test. Probably the draw test in this case since a few ones were hard to draw. But yes, for the price, and even if you had to throw a few ones away for construction problems, they might be good cigars for the price but still, there’s a risk in buying those on the street. Thanks for the comment!

       
  4. john

    10 janvier 2015 at 2210 01

    hi. i was wondering if you can tell me the best la casa del habano to vistit in havana as i will be going to cuba this febuary. i will be bringing back about 100 cigars and want to buy 5 cigars of each of the brands that i want, will i be able to get 2014 limited edition cigars and 1966 2011 cohiba cigars around that time or are they all sold out. thanks john

     
  5. Domenic N

    21 février 2016 at 1907 02

    Hello. Very information. What do you think of the Club Havana Casa?

     

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