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U.S. Customs and Cuban Cigars

Our European editor discovers that America's borders are safe and secure against Cuban tobacco products.
From the Print Edition:
Tiger Woods, May/June 2008

(continued from page 2)

Another officer then came out with a menacing-looking, five-inch hunting knife. At first, I had flashbacks to the movie Deliverance but, in fact, the knife was only to cut up the cigars. I stood and watched every one cut in two—lengthwise—and thrown into a wastebasket. They included a selection of torpedos, the new Partagas Serie P in tubos and some yet-to-be-released Partagas Serie D No. 5 Limited Edition 2008.

"This is the part of my job I really hate," said the officer, as he cut the cigars in two with great precision.

I don't begrudge any of them. They were just doing their jobs. And they were nice guys too. I told them that I wish they could just take the cigars and smoke them themselves. "What a waste to cut them up," I said.

They said that as much as they would like to smoke them, they had to destroy the cigars. They were very straight shooters. We spoke about Cuba for a while. They were really interested in the current political situation. Then we spoke about cigars too. They said that just about every day the same thing happens, although most of the cigars people brought from Mexico looked fake. The officers are busiest during the summer.

The whole experience was sort of surreal considering less than 24 hours before I had been smoking cigars in Havana with more than 1,000 cigar lovers and merchants at a gala dinner that resembled a cross between this magazine's annual Big Smoke in Las Vegas and a Broadway production with lots of food, wine and rum thrown in. Check out my blogs and videos on the event at www.cigaraficionado.com.

I heard some people say that this year's festival—the 10th annual—was not as good as previous years', but I thought it was one of the best. Cuba's cigar festival is a great chance for cigar lovers from around the world to compare notes and share a cigar. A lot of the interaction happens in cigar shops, factories and restaurants in Havana—well outside the official events.

Thank God Havana hasn't really gone nonsmoking, even though a few years ago attempts were made to impose a ban. It's not easy to hang and smoke anywhere nowadays considering all the antismoking laws. Even Mexico recently went nonsmoking in public places.

The wave of health fascism is not stopping the Cubans from coming out with some great cigars. I had the chance to smoke this year's edicion limitadas and they are some of the best ever. They include Cuaba Piramide, Partagas Serie D No. 5 and Montecristo Sublimes.

Here are my scores (all were tasted non-blind) and partial notes:

Cuaba Piramide (52 ring x 6 1/8 inches): It is super refined and long with light coffee and nutty character. 93.


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