Don’t falsy brand your cigar. It is a pet peeve at the Ministry of Cigars office. When we see a New World cigar claiming to be Cubanesque or using Cuba, Havana, or any other reference in the name, we cringe. To us, it sends the wrong message. Compare it to our article about copycats from a few weeks ago. And don’t ride the coattail another country, and the hard work they did to get the status that they have. Especially when that status is something earned in the past but caught up by time.
Now, this is not to bash Cuban cigars or Cuban tobacco. But the Cuban tobacco isn’t as high in quality as it was a decade ago. And a decade ago it wasn’t as good as two decades ago. Ministry of Cigars wrote about that in our article about the current state of Cuban cigars. We wish things were different and that Cuban tobacco and cigars would reach their full potential. The island can produce amazing tobacco. Yet because of several reasons, mostly all economical, the potential isn’t reached. If Cuba would get its standards up again, it would be a great thing for the cigar industry as a whole, and for us cigar enthusiasts in particular. But to get away from this sidestep, let’s get back to the subject, don’t falsy brand your cigar.
Cuban tobacco has its unique flavor. Just as every other country or region has its unique characteristics. It even goes down to regions. Tobacco from Jalapa doesn’t taste like tobacco from Esteli or Ometepe. Every region has its own character. That goes for Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic, and even for lesser-known tobacco-producing countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. Even when using the same seeds, the flavor would be different. Tobacco acts just like other agricultural products. You can grow the same grapes in France and Chile, yet the wine made from those grapes will taste differently. Coconuts from Thailand are better than those from Malaysia, yet the best durians come from Malaysia and not Thailand. It makes it impossible to make a Cuban-tasting cigar with non-Cuban tobacco. Just as it is impossible for Cubatabaco to make a cigar that tastes like a Nicaraguan cigar.
So when we see a new world cigar brand using the description ‘Cubanesque’ we shake our head. Or when we see a brand name using the names Cuba or Havana. Not only is it false advertising and raising false expectations, but it also sends the wrong message. What we read when we see a name or description like that we read “we want to be as good as Cubans”. These brands take Cuba as a benchmark. Which automatically devalues the tobacco from the countries they are using. And face it, look at all the ratings of the last decade from all magazines and blogs, Cuba is no longer the benchmark. Other countries are producing cigars that are as good, and better. So instead of saying “this cigar is Cubanesque” the message should be “this cigar is what Cuban would love to make”. Then you spread a message of pride, of confidence, and it promotes the country where the cigars are made.
As one of our Facebook friends, Dogan Biyikli said in a private conversation about this subject, using Cuba, Havana, Cubanesque automatically degrades the cigar. He recalls “I remember receiving a sampler that had the Casa Cuba. My initial thought was that it would be a bad cigar, just another brand using the “Cuba” rhetoric. Now it is one of my favorite Fuente cigars.” This proves that we at Ministry of Cigars aren’t the only people that have prejudice when it comes to using the term Cuba for new world cigars.
Now, don’t get us wrong. This is purely about the product. We know that many of the producers in new world countries are first, second, or third-generation Cubans. And we aren’t saying that they can’t be proud of their heritage. Of course not, be proud of where your family came from. What we are saying is, be even prouder of where you are now and where you are heading. The student has become the master, so stop using the teacher as the benchmark. Pay respect to the teacher, but stop limiting and lowering yourself.
In the last decade, things started to change. The name Nicaragua is becoming a quality seal. Companies such as Drew Estate and Alec Bradley release cigars that use the name Nicaragua proudly with the Nica Rustica and Nica Puro. On the other hand, Drew Estate uses “Cubanesque” to market the Herrera Esteli. And Alec Bradley has a value line with the name Spirit of Cuba. Even Davidoff is banking in on the Nicaraguan name with the Davidoff Nicaragua. And there are many others. Unfortunately, you see other brands now using the Nicaragua name for cigars not made in Nicaragua and only containing a little bit of Nicaraguan tobacco, which is exactly the same as branding your cigar cubanesque.
So just as in our article “don’t be a copycat” we urge brands and manufacturers not to use Cuba, Cubanesque, or any other references to Cuba. Don’t falsy brand your cigar. It makes you look cheap. It does not show any confidence in the quality of your product and the country you’re producing in. Set your own benchmark, and make the Cubans try to copy you!
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