Counterfeit Behikes—Insider Analysis

David Savona
Posted: June 2, 2011

The Cohiba Behike BHK is the hottest Cuban cigar on the market. Cigar Aficionado's reigning Cigar of the Year, the small-production smoke is among the best made in Cuba in decades.Up to now, counterfeits of the cigar have been limited due to the elaborate packaging found on each genuine Behike BHK. The real cigars come packed in very glossy, black boxes of 10 cigars, with gold highlights and squares that have a blue-gray hue. This box goes inside a felt covering, which is then put inside a black cardboard box containing the Habanos sticker and the Cuban guarantee seal.

Most fakes have been bundled cigars, some banded with traditional Cohiba bands, but Cigar Aficionado has uncovered two very close copies of the complex and ornate Behike band, and the most ambitious attempt at copying the very difficult and high-end Cohiba Behike box to date. Neither is a perfect replica, but both have fooled buyers. The box of Behikes, bought by a Cigar Aficionado reader from a dealer in the northeastern United States, attempts to duplicate the Behike packaging. The counterfeiter missed several details, as you will see in this trio of videos.

First of all, the box contained 25 cigars-real Behike BHKs come in boxes of 10. The cigars were also priced at $300, or $12 apiece-even in Cuba, that price would be around $25 per cigar.

We'll begin with a look at the genuine box, compared to the fake box.

Next, we'll take a look at the real box and the fake box side-by-side, which showcases the differences between each one very clearly.


Finally, we'll take a look at the differences between a real Cohiba Behike BHK cigar band and the fake adorning the cigars that came in these boxes, and also compare it to a band from a counterfeit Cohiba BHK purchased in St. Maarten.

Be careful when purchasing Cohiba Behike cigars. Fakes are out there, and the counterfeiters are taking time trying to fool you into parting with your money.

To see the bands in our Counterfeit Gallery, click here.


Todd Merlette Eden, NY, USA, June 2, 2011 5:15pm ET
Excellent analysis gentlemen. I would like to see some close-ups of the fake cigars themselves compared to a real BHK. We've established they are getting closer to mimicking the packaging and the bands but how good are fakes when it comes to the cigars themselves?
David Savona June 2, 2011 5:17pm ET
The construction is similar, the wrappers were OK, but there's no aroma of Cuban tobacco.
Denis Clermont Ogden, Québec, Canada, June 2, 2011 7:39pm ET
David could you tell from which provenance(tobacco)the fake cigars are from?
Taylor Franklin June 2, 2011 9:32pm ET
Dave, couldn't help but notice the ones from El Laguito were all smoked and the box empty . . . very memorable smokes.

I quite like these, but more as special occasion cigar, due to limited supply and higher price point.
stantine972 June 3, 2011 10:39pm ET
Crap....I think I smoked a fake one!
That's why I wasn't so impressed with it.
maxime bel June 4, 2011 12:10am ET
Dame, my mom bring me Lanceros from a casa del habanos in
cuba and there fake. Right when i saw it, the cigar had to many
veine on it .On top of it, as it progress the taste just get worse.
No way nire wath Cohiba is capeble to produce.
mike g bloofield, nj, usa, June 4, 2011 12:47pm ET
picked up a bhk52 from the shop at the partagas factory ..after reading this article , i think i was given a fake
corey Berry June 5, 2011 12:57am ET
@ stantine lol thats gotta suck!! how much did you spend. but you know what this is really good cause before long it was going to be on the net sellin like hot cakes an people were going to be buying them up. just as happy as they can be but little do they know they are getting bamboozeled. im sorry this happend to you man. goodluck an happy smokes
Sunny Kishor Patel June 5, 2011 1:51am ET
Glad to know that my 52s, 54s, and 56s are all real. I didn't really doubt it, but confirmation is always nice. Now that I've compared, back they go to age a long time in my humidor.
Chris Castellani Tomball, TX, USA, June 16, 2011 11:38pm ET
Once again, thanks again for keeping us informed.

Although I feel bad for whoever purchased the counterfeit behikes, I do thank them for sending them to CA so that we can learn.

I hope they were able to get a few real Behikes. I have been trying to find them, but no such luck for me.
Radu-Adrian Popescu Amsterdam, Netherlands, August 13, 2011 4:46am ET
It really looks like the 3rd band is genuine, but placed on a replacement cigar...
shannon collins August 16, 2011 2:13pm ET
I'm getting a box at duty free in Amsterdam next week...can these be trusted?
Ludavico Corde August 27, 2011 1:22pm ET
Probably 90% of the counterfeit cigars out there are Cohibas. Due to the fact that even clueless cigar newbies have heard these are "The best Cubans" etc. There are also a few Montecristo, R&J, and Punch fakes. It's very rare to find counterfeits of the lesser known Cuban brands. So if you are going to buy these popular type smokes, get them from someplace reputable. Simple as that. Casa de Habanos shops, etc. I would not worry too much about Duty Free airport shops, they are usually legit, but don't expect to find any bargains there, the Duty Free prices are quite high. As a long time Cuban cigar smokers, I generally avoid the cigar brands I mentioned- Chance of fakes, often very young in the box dates and i like some age on them, better bang for the buck with lesser known brands such as Robaina where often the taste/quality surpasses the more hyped brands. October 2, 2011 1:36am ET
Michael Tenuta Jr November 14, 2011 2:21pm ET
I wonder if David can tell us if there are those selling fake samplers of 3 or if they are available by Cohiba. @gdaplumber1 did you purchase them from Hong Kong? November 28, 2011 6:00am ET
I was wondering if the Behikes are just made in boxes of 10 because. Someone I know says he has legit behikes and the are in a box of 25? did cohiba create a box of 25 or are they most likely fake?
Leopold August 29, 2012 2:29pm ET
Great video, very educational. THANK YOU
Christopher Brind'Amour Ste-Catherine, Quebec, Canada, October 16, 2012 11:28pm ET
Thank you for the video, it helped a lot... David; do you know how reliable the "Authenticity Check" on the Habanos website is?

I just purchased a box of BHK 52 from the Cada del Habano in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba but it failed the authenticity check (the seal's code number) on the website. I've never questioned authenticity when purchasing from a Casa, but this has me worried.
Bob Tucker Hillsboro, Oregon, USA, November 21, 2012 1:45pm ET
I was just given what appeared to be a very nice gift...a box of Cohiba BHK 56. But after watching the videos I learned that they are not truly Cohibas. First, they come in a box of 25. The box is not shiny black lacquer, but a cheaper version. The cigar bands are a good fake as the hologram goes, but the head does not have the black bordering around it. As for the official seal on the box, I went to and used their authenticity check only to discover that the seal IS genuine...a genuine Bolivar tubos seal. So apparently someone (inside Cuba) is stealing seals and selling them to the counterfeiters. Beware.
Mike Pettis Andover, MN, United States, January 13, 2013 10:31am ET
I held an empty box of the BHK 56 and the feel is remarkable. It has some weight to it unlike a typical box - think small humidor. They do only come in boxes of 10 and they run in the area of $600+.

This is a great write-up. Sorry for those who got fakes.
Leopold February 17, 2013 11:18am ET
@ Christopher: the Authenticity Check is fairly cumbersome in that it is easy to make a small mistake with either the numbers, the way the numbers are paired or the drone block. All this (in my case) quite often NOT resulting in the confirmation message you'd expect. HOWEVER, I have so far in the end never encountered a counterfeit and the system seems to work well. Knock wood.
Jeandré Hartman Centurion, Gauteng, South-Africa, March 15, 2013 7:11pm ET
David. There was another thing that you did not mention and that is that not only does the type of hinges differ on the real and fake boxes but there is one more thing. The genuine box's hinges has COHIBA stamped/engraved in them. In South Africa we hardly get fakes. But I have seen fake Behikes. I kept the label and compared it to my real ones. The gold is also less shiny.
Peter Brown Brussel, Brussel, Belgium, August 12, 2014 3:12am ET
Very nice review. This cigar is very well constructed. This is just wow with its even burn line, lovely aroma and woody taste.
John Amicucci Mount Vernon, NY, USA , October 13, 2014 7:53pm ET
David, Thank you from all of us. It educated us all of real vs fakes. Jeandre' mentioned the hinges, I agree. You educated us perfectly on the top, bottom, inside and front of the magnetic box. What about the sides of the box? I have a box that has BHK 56 and below it Habana, Cuba on the left and right side of the box. Is that real or not?
Frank Almeida December 1, 2014 8:38pm ET
I just received a box from what I believe is a reputable online retailer and everything is consistent with the above videos except for one small detail, the small banner hologram with the Behike heads is not consistent with the video, its a Jul 14 dated box and was wondering if this may have changed since the video by David, any information would be greatly appreciated.
Cigar_Smoker Who_is_not_a_Snob October 10, 2015 5:36pm ET
Cigars just like any thing, that gets manufactured have defects and quality control issues.
You can get a branded shirt or shoe for top dollars or even buy it in discount store.
Same thing goes to the Cohiba and Cuban Myth.
Today I am going to bust some of these myths that keep repeating itself, just because you paid a low ball price compared to original expensive 1000% markup retailers.

I smoked some authentic high grade original BHK 56 and those from a box of 25.
Taste and Flavor? Absolutely the same.
You all heard about the "Culebra " and how the rollers were allowed to take 3 cigars every day and which ended up in black market.
Yes, There is indeed a thriving black & grey market for these Cohibas too. Remember, it was a blend smoked by a guard standing on the door when Fidel discovered it.

So possibily the same tobacco blend or same cigars are pilfered from the factory , accumulated and then sold.
Cuban rollers get paid in dirt , compared to the enormous profit these retailers make. So there is vested interest in trying to suppress & discredit the "GREY" market stuff.
Some of these 25 pack Cohibas are great. Amongst those GREY market , unofficial stock, there are also other fakers who try to slip you a bad batch once in a while.

So at the end of the day, buyer beware.
I have smoked both and NO.. I will not pay $$$$$ for a lacquer box...and some retailers 1000% markup.
TX TX October 23, 2015 7:24am ET
I thought I would try to answer some of the questions on here.
1) They do not come in a 3 sampler box.
2) They do not come in a box of 25.
3) They do not come in a box with warranty stickers directly on the box of any kind.
4) They do not come in wooden boxes, or boxes with wooden bottoms, or slide lid boxes, or any combination of those parts. The hinges need to be gold with stamped lettering. The boxes have a hidden magnetic closure. No latch/clasp of any kind. The magnetic resistance is obvious on a good box.
5) The boxes are sold inside a black cardboard box with all seals/stamps attached to that box. Inside that box is a black velvet/fhelt bag also with gold lettering. Inside that bag is the black lacquered box with very crisp white dots. This finished box is covered with cling wrap protective film. NOTHING should be stuck to this box of any kind other than the protective film.
John) Yes the two ends of the box are marked with the BHK 52,54,56 marking and Habana Cuba in gold lettering 100% legit there for your box.
Frank) The hologram banner strip on the back of the band did change on my boxes somewhere between my 2013 and 2014 boxes of BHKs. I don't have exact dates. My boxes from 2013 have rows of little hologram gold heads. These changed somewhere around 2014ish to rows of The words Cohiba Behike with gold heads separating those two words all done in holograms.
Now to make things a little more complicated:
As part of my collection, I have about a half dozen BHK 54 boxes which are all stamped with a matching factory code and date code. They are all authentic from sealed boxes. The color of the cigars, aroma, wrapper quality, construction and even small differences in the way the band is applied/scuffed by whoever handled that bunch of cigars for each box is apparent upon inspection. This is cigars which were all rolled in the same factory under the same months production, but clearly the end product has differences. I have 2 or 3 of the boxes that are clearly the better boxes of the bunch. Quality control on the end product, while still superb does have differences It makes you aware that all things are not equal depending on who rolled the bunch and who had the better bunch of material on that day.

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