So, just smoking a good cigar isn’t enough for you? You like a little sense of adventure with that stogie? Perhaps the idea of flaunting authority sounds appealing to you; the life of a smuggler courses through your veins.
Purchasing a Cuban cigar and bringing it into the United States is against the law. Since Castro and Kennedy went onto the splits in the early 1960s, the United States has had a trade embargo on any product of Cuba or products made in the country. Anyone caught violating the embargo can be subject to fines or even arrest.
But you are intrigued by the idea of pursuing the holy grail of cigars: an authentic Cuban.
First, consider the reputation. For more than a century the Cuban has been held as the penultimate cigar, synonymous with quality. For the most part, the reputation has been well deserved. Blessed with a great growing climate, a strong tradition, expert growers, quality seeds, and a demand for perfection, Cuba developed into the best cigar-producing country in the world. Its tobacco is different than any grown elsewhere in the world and the Cuban government has been scrupulous about importing other tobacco for blending.
Embargo. It has been illegal to import anything from Cuba since the 1962 embargo against Cuba. Rumor has it that when President Kennedy was preparing to sign the Cuban trade embargo into law, he asked an aide to acquire 1,000 of his favorite Cuban cigars, H. Upmann Petit Havanas.
Despite the embargo people often got cigars through customs, but the U.S. Customs Department began cracking down even more during the Clinton administration, making it much tougher. Even individual cigars that might have made it through previously were being confiscated.
Despite being the world’s largest market for cigars, the United States is one of the few countries in which you can’t get a Cuban cigar. They are considered contraband and trying to bring them into the country is illegal. That being said, a number of aficionados have been known to smuggle them into the United States.
Are Cuban cigars the best? A certain amount of connoisseurs out there maintain that despite improvement in other countries’ cigars and the slight deterioration in Cuba’s, the Cuban cigar remains the best. It certainly maintains its mystique among cigar smokers in general and novices in particular.