Friday, November 18, 2011

A Little Taste of Cuba

I've been fielding a lot of questions lately about genuine Cuban cigars, and just how easy it is to smoke one in the US these days. Usually I have to invoke the DADT rule: if you're lucky enough to have a reliable source for Cuban cigars, keep it to yourself. If you're smoking one, don't show it to everyone around you. Don't visit reputable cigar stores and ask if they have any in the back or hiding under the counter. Usually if you're a good boy or girl and you eat all your vegetables, eventually one of these babies will find its way into your hands and you'll be able to smoke it without being interrogated by a U.S. Customs Officer.

That said, these Camacho Pre-Embargo (PE) are a nice, legal way to get more of the taste of real Cuban cigars without breaking the law. The wrapper is a rare Jamastran Corojo (Cuban seed) tobacco, the filler actually contains genuine Cuban leaves from the pre-embargo days. That's right--this tobacco is older than I am. As of 2011, four bales of pre-1962 Cuban tobacco are still stored somewhere in a warehouse, and Camacho is rolling cigars with it.

I've been wanting to try one of these for a while, but I was unsure if the whole "pre-embargo" status was just a sales gimmick. We've been hearing about Cuban seeds and even Cuban cigar rollers being imported from Cuba into factories in other places such as Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and even Miami. While that usually makes for a decent smoke, it's not quite the same as smoking a real Cuban cigar. So I waited on the Camacho Pre-Embargo...until last week, when it was included in a very tasty sampler from

The Camacho Pre-Embargo usually costs $25 per 6 x 48 stick. For a limited time, however, you can get one of these included with six other Corojo cigars (including the excellent Joya de Nicaragua Antano Dark Corojo) for just $29.95. I jumped at the chance to try the cigar that the main guy at calls "without a doubt one of the finest cigars I have ever had the privilege of smoking."

After letting it sit in my humidor for a couple of weeks (it should have been longer, but it's already been waiting around to be smoked for fifty friggin' years!), I lit it up this morning. After a few initial puffs, I looked at it and said, "This tastes just like a Cuban cigar." It was exceedingly smooth, rich and well-constructed. The slightest of draws generated huge clouds of smoke. It was lighter in weight than I thought it would be, and the wrapper wasn't that oily or distinctive-looking. It looked like a fairly normal Corojo from the outside. But for all intents and purposes, it smoked exactly like the last three or four Cubans I've tried (in foreign countries, of course, where it's legal to smoke Cuban cigars). I'm not sure if that comparison would hold up if I was simultaneously smoking the Pre-Embargo and a nice Cohiba Behike BHK 52, but it was a truly memorable smoke overall, and a great bargain.

If you're curious about Cuban cigars and don't want to get into trouble, this may be a nice compromise. Order now before they sell out.

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