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FAQ: Are Cuban Cigars Better than Nicaraguan or Dominican Cigars?

FAQ: Are Cuban Cigars Better than Nicaraguan or Dominican Cigars?

This is something that’s asked in many different ways on a daily basis.  The short answer is that no one country dominates the cigar world, because each cigar smoker has individual preferences.  Just like it’s hard to say that Mint Chocolate Chip is the best flavor of ice cream, the word better is hard to apply to any discussion involving the country of origin.  But let’s look at the things that can be considered a preference and other things that are less personal. 

Looking at it Subjectively 

Of course, if you identify a favorite country, blend, or brand, you’re 100% in the right.  No one can tell you that you’re wrong, because they aren’t smoking with your hands, palate, and budget. 

Cigars from Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, and Cuba have different characteristics.  Specifically, Cuban cigars taste different than 99% of everything else on the market. 

Whereas the other brands frequently blend cigars with tobaccos used from several different countries, Cuba has traditionally produced cigars from within their own borders. There are rumors around right now that say they’re importing from other countries to fulfill demand, but we’ll leave that for another day. 

Are Cuban cigars the best in the world?

So you have a cigar that’s comprised of Cuban tobacco and processed in the traditional Cuban way. This creates a flavor and intensity range that Cuban smokers have come to appreciate.  That’s not to say that all Cubans taste the same, but there’s a common impression in a lot of their marcas that has been coined the Cuban Twang. 

The twang means different things to different people, but if I had to sum it up with just two words I’d say it reminds me of sourdough bread. 

Cubans are also characteristically smooth and mild-medium in body and strength.  Whereas Americans would say that the RoMa Craft Neanderthal or Black Label Morphine are full-bodied monsters, Cuban smokers would say that Bolivar is the full-bodied champ.  That’s like comparing Arnold Schwarzenegger to Hugh Jackman.  

Bottom line: most serious cigar enthusiasts can appreciate the unique flavors that each brand, master blender, and country can produce.  Your background determines your perspective, and it’s safe to say that Cuban enthusiasts would likely be confused by what Americans smoke like many of us are when we smoke our first Cuban cigar. 

Looking at it from outside the taste buds

Ruling out personal preference, we can evaluate the Cubans vs. The World question a little further based on construction, accessibility, and versatility.  But, yet again, I decided upon these criteria – and I’m a person.   

Construction plays a large role in the overall cigar experience, and is often the most important thing to beginner smokers.  For the most part, the construction on Cuban cigars is subpar compared to Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.  Granted, this is mostly anecdotal, but to this day I never roll out with just one Cuban cigar – I always bring back up in case the first is plugged tighter than a McDonald’s milkshake.  

Cuban Cigars vs Nicaraguan Cigars

Plugs happen in other factories as well, but the statistical occurrence in Cuban cigars seems to be significantly more probable than their competition.  But that depends on your source, doesn’t it? 

I would argue yes and no.  I’ve purchased Cuban cigars all over Europe and the Middle East from duty free and LCDH stores.  Personally, my luck has been the same regardless of the source.  For everyone that says they’ve never experienced a plugged Cuban, I must conclude that they either prefer much more resistance or should have been an Olympic athlete. 

The flip side of the coin is that Nicaraguan and Dominican cigars are the same worldwide – no one even thinks to question which region of the world the cigar was purchased if an issue arises. 

Cuban marcas are also heavily counterfeited, making the process of buying them while traveling a chore. And the bands, which should serve to put the buyer at ease of buying an authentic product, vary greatly and can appear to be fake when they’re actually legitimate.  You can’t be sure that you’re getting the real thing unless you’re looking at a sealed box with the box code or trust your source.

Lastly, if you were to choose just one country to smoke puros from for the rest of your life, I’d argue that Nicaragua would be the best choice.   Where Nicaraguan tobacco can play many different notes with all their growing regions, Cuban puros to date lack the versatility to provide a lifetime of variations for this guy.  With that being said, there are tons of people that have literally only smoked Cuban cigars in their lifetime.  

Cubanesque Cigars

Then again, we’re currently dealing with a Cuba that sees global demand growing by the year without their supply increasing in step.  If we were to witness the demand dwindle, and Cuba to begin experimenting with different processes and techniques, this opinion would be up for reevaluation.  At this time, though, I see no reason for their QA/QC or innovation to improve, as the demand doesn’t seem to be slowing. 

Bottom line: determining which country produces the best cigars depends on the criteria.  If you’re solely relying on taste, take your pick.  If you’re considering things like reliability, accessibility, and versatility, I’d look to Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic to take the lead.  If you’re looking at notoriety and Instagram likes, Cuban cigars are the reigning champs. And if you’re looking to smoke great cigars every day, you’re probably rolling your eyes at this entire post because you can appreciate the differences rather than choose teams. 

Tell Us!  What are YOUR thoughts on cigars around the world?

Leave your comment
10/14/2018 11:07 AM
Great article. Very well thought out. My experiences have definitely been on par.
10/16/2018 7:53 AM
For me Cubans of today are far from the best and vastly overrated. Cuba specifically Imperial Tobacco sell bands not cigars.

20 - 30 - 40 years ago they were stellar. I used to buy and collect many Cuban cigars but threw in the towel around the time when Cubatabaco morphed into Habanos SA which later partnered with Altadis later bought out by Imperial Tobacco. Their blends and brands used to be distinct with personality now they're homogenised and castrated. I grew tired of being deceived and cheated.

They're also expensive and construction issues are frequent. I'm fortunate to have friends whom I gift, trade and swap with. Sure occasionally even today a blind squirrel can stumble into something memorable, well made, and tasty but that's very few and far between it's not worth my risk. I'd rather purchase Davidoff which is often a grand slam cigar experience at least for me.
6/26/2019 12:15 AM
I agree fully with W comment!
8/27/2021 7:09 PM
Cuban cigars are terribly overrated.  It is the 'forbidden fruit' syndrome.  If they were readily available, after about a year, they would sit on the shelves.