Counterfeits aren’t just Cohiba’s problem. No doubt that Cohiba is the most common counterfeit Cuban cigar, but it’s not limited to Cohiba only. Ministry of Cigars has seen other Cuban marcas as counterfeit cigars as well. Last week we told you how to recognize counterfeit Cohiba cigars. A week earlier, we explained more tell-tale signs of counterfeits.
The first encounter was a positive one though. More than a decade ago, a non-smoking friend went to Cuba and brought back a bunch of cigars he bought at a farm. Farm rolls are amongst the best cigars you can buy in Cuba in our opinion but that is a subject for another time. But in this case, the farmer just recycled some rings of genuine brands. A mixed bag of rings, with vitolas that are never offered for those brands. We recall a Vegas Robaina Perfecto. But the tobacco was great, well-aged and the cigar was delicious.
But there are also bad experiences. Go to YouTube and you’ll find videos of people dissecting counterfeit Cuban cigars. Some of them have floor sweepings inside, plastic bands, rat droppings, and other stuff you don’t want to smoke. That’s why Ministry of Cigars always suggests cutting a fake cigar open if you have a box. So at least you know if the other cigars in the box are safe to light. As we did at The Philip & Ferdy Cigar Show with the counterfeit Romeo y Julieta Churchill, and last week’s video about counterfeit Cohiba cigars. But counterfeits aren’t just Cohiba’s problem. Other Habanos brands are counterfeited as well.
Signs of counterfeits
In our article of two weeks ago, we went into some clear signs of counterfeits. Last week we dove into the signs of counterfeit Cohiba cigars. Today we show some more fakes and give a few more tips on how to spot a counterfeit cigar.
The first tip is to feel the box. Feel a lot of real Cuban boxes and remember the way the box feels. Most counterfeit boxes are smoother than the Cuban boxes. Also, study the typography of the Habanos logo and the box codes. Some of the counterfeits come close, very close. But if you compare them with real boxes you will see a difference. Since all Cuban boxes come from one and the same factory, there should not be a difference in the logo at the back.
The cedar on top of the cigars should be perfect as well. With half a circle stamped out in the top right corner. One of the boxes we have in our possession has cedar that doesn’t fit perfectly. Other sheets of cedar are morphing so much that it’s a clear sign of counterfeits.
When you are buying vintage cigars, look at the wax paper. The wax paper can’t be pristine if the cigars are a few years old. The oils from the wrapper will stain the white wax paper, just as much as it discolors cellophane for New World cigars.
Each box of Cuban cigars also includes an info leaflet with text in 4 languages. For the real Cubans, that is wax paper as well. A cool trick to see if it’s genuine is to rub your hands together and warm them up. Then place the wax paper on your flat hand. The heat should make the edges curl up.
Size & logos
The boxes of counterfeit Behike 54 and 56 that Ministry of Cigars received from our whistleblower are too short. There is a gap between the box and the cigars. Every Cuban cigar should fit nicely into the box without leaving gaps. So that is another giveaway.
Look at the logos as well. For example, the counterfeit Behike rings that Ministry of Cigars studied had issues with the spacing. Something that will never occur on the real deal. Vrijdag Premium Printing is responsible for a lot of Cuban cigar bands and the 115-year-old company prides itself on its high-quality control.
And then we come back to the age-old “if it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t”. During our investigations, one of our contacts made us aware of a price list. A price list from a producer of counterfeit Cuban cigars. Apparently, these are made in Costa Rica. The prices are laughably low for limited edition, vintage Habanos. So that is a clear sign of counterfeit cigars. Look at the price list and see how many Cuban brands are being counterfeited. This price list shows that counterfeits aren’t just Cohiba’s problem.
Ministry of Cigars shared all the contact information of these producers and sellers of counterfeit Cuban cigars with the Security Director of Habanos. Copies of the high-quality counterfeit cigar bands are on the way to Vrijdag Premium Printing so they can come up with new ways to make counterfeiting rings even harder.
Watch the upcoming Philip & Ferdy Cigars Show for more tips. The guys are smoking counterfeit Cohiba Sublimes and talk about counterfeits. The show will premiere this coming Friday on the Ministry of Cigars Facebook and Youtube channels.