That headline might be enough to send cigar lovers into a frenzy. A shortage of cigars? In Havana? What is the world coming to?
Relax. Any rumors of shortages simply aren't true. For now, anyway.
Here's at least part of the real story, and perhaps the origin for some of the rumors. There are almost no Cohiba Behikes in the principle Casas del Habano in the Cuban capital; the shop at the Habana Libre has Behikes 52s and Behike 54s, and the shop at Club Habana in Miramar had a few Behike 52s. But those were the only ones I saw last week and it wasn't a large inventory. It also not clear there will be any, anytime soon.
But the new Edición Limitada releases from 2014, including Cohiba Robusto Supremos and Partagás Seleccion Privada, are in the shops, according the managers of several of them, just not out of shelves yet. Why? Habanos has managed to get the cigars there but without the new bar code and pricing information so the stores can sell them. Most expect that information this week, and certainly, those cigars will be on sale before the annual Festival de Habanos, which begins on February 23.
But beyond those specific shortages, five of the Casas del Habanos that I visited on Friday were not only well-stocked but most said they were expecting additional inventory this week. They also reported that they usually don't have to wait for fulfillment of any orders. Prices haven't changed that much since last year, so there are still some bargains.
My other observations were that the cigars on the shelves are predominantly from mid-year to fall 2014. The remainder of the boxes are mostly 2013 dates, with smaller percentages from 2010 to 2011. And, nearly all the major brands in their principle sizes—things like Montecristo No. 2s, Partagás Lusitanias, H. Upmann Sir Winstons and Hoyo de Monterrey Double Coronas—could be found most everywhere.
Here is a quick rundown by shop of what was available, with an attempt to note some of the unusual items, some with a bit more age on them, and their prices. (Prices have been converted from CUCs to U.S. dollars, and include the exchange fee.)
- Trinidad Fundadores, May 2011, $295
- Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona, Cabinet of 50, February 2011, $644
- Ramon Allones Gigantes, November 2012, $295
- Cohiba Esplendidos, August 2014, $650
Good stock of Cohibas and Montecristos
- San Luis Rey Regios, Cabinet of 50, April 2011, $277
- Punch Double Corona, Cabinet of 50, August 2012, $626
- Partagás Lusitania, Cabinet of 50, May 2012, $641
Excellent stocks of Montecristos, Partagás, Romeo y Julieta and Punch
Quinta Ave y 16
- Cohiba Siglo VI, October 2012, $554
- Cuaba Salomones, box of 10, November 2013, $170
- San Cristobal de la Habana la Fuerza, May 2011, $240
Good stocks of Montecristo, Partagás and Romeo y Julieta. Low on Cohiba, but shop manager Carlos Robaina says he's getting new inventory of that brand this week.
- Cohiba Robusto Supremo, open box, per stick, $31
- Hoyo de Monterrey Churchill, November 2013, $322
- Trinidad Fundadores, August 2011, $296
- Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Deluxe, August 2014, box of 10, $79
Manager Elena Perez says she is really well-stocked, with storage areas full of cigars.