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Havana Cigar Shops

George Brightman
From the Print Edition:
The Cuba Issue, May/Jun 01

(continued from page 2)

3. Whenever possible, open boxes before buying. Look at the general appearance of the cigars. If they look rough or the colors of the wrappers are not what you want, don't buy them. More important, don't buy cigars that smell of ammonia or give off other volatile aromas. Those are made from raw tobacco and will smoke harshly. Lightly squeeze a few of the cigars in the box to confirm that they are not overfilled or plugged. Nothing is more frustrating than a cigar that doesn't draw properly.

4. Try to buy older cigars. Cigars with only a few months of box age are usually harsh and less enjoyable than those with more age. A box with even six months of age is better than one with two. Use the simple code on the bottom of boxes as your guide.

5. While it's good to listen to cigar shop staff, let your eyes tell you what looks good; it's also wise to prepare a list of those cigars you particularly wish to buy, otherwise you'll end up with too many smokes to take home.

6. Consider renting a locker at one of the stores (usually about $500 to $600 a year). You'll be able to store excess cigars under perfect conditions and begin to rotate stock on subsequent visits, smoking aged cigars while you select new ones to begin the aging process.

7. Make sure that you leave the shop with proper receipts. Otherwise, your cigars may be confiscated by Cuban Customs when you leave the island. Everyone is allowed to take out two boxes of 25 cigars each without receipts.

8. Don't forget that most countries have a limit on how many cigars you can bring in duty-free. For example, the limit in Europe is 50 cigars, although you can usually pay the extra duty. Mexico officially allows only 25 cigars, although travelers in transit can ask Customs officials to transfer their cigars to their connecting flights and circumvent that limit. Americans traveling directly from the island may return with a total of only $100 worth of Cuban products, and then only when they travel with a valid visa. Americans who enter and leave Cuba through a third country have no cigar allotment.

La Casa del Habano (Partagas Factory)

Calle Industria, No. 520

La Habana Vieja

Tel: 33 80 60


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