Havana Cigar Shortage?

Feb 10, 2015 | By Gordon Mott

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.)

Club Habana

  • 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

Melia Habana

  • 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.

Habana Libre

  • 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.

"Beatles and Cuban Cigars. In the past I have bought Cuban cigars in Cuba as well as received Cuban cigars from friends who have visited the island. To late I realized that cigars bought in Cuba have not necessarily been treated (flash freezing) like cigars being bought on the Canadian and American market. I was lucky enough to catch the infestation early so I only lost a few cigars. My recommendation to those traveling to Cuba is that all cigars bought in Cuba go directly into the freezer for a few days, then moved to the refrigerator (gradually returned to humidor temperature prior to storage)" —April 24, 2015 10:27 AM
"I went to Jamaica hoping to buy a few Cuban cigars, but there were few for sale. Why is that? " —March 6, 2015 23:38 PM
"Just got back from varadero yesterday. I went to Havana and went to hotel libre and found cohiba behike 52 only 4 boxes and bought one and bought a 10 count box of siglo vi with the new bands on them, date code ARG nov 14. I also bought Partagas serie D #4, montecristo #2, 2014 cohiba ltd, Hoyo de Monterey epicure espicail, robaina, cohiba piramides extra, cohiba genios maduro 5. A total of 100 cigars. " —February 20, 2015 14:24 PM
"Oh. Also. Varadero had the cohiba robusto supremo in stock everywhere starting from feb 9 when I got there. Everywhere was fully stocked in varadero with latest sticks but very few behikes" —February 17, 2015 16:04 PM
"Just got back from cuba. Havana was under stocked. The lcdh in Pinar was stocked with behike. There is a shortage, shortage of wrapper. Been a bad crop the last couple of yrs. In november most of the factories were shut down due laack of product to work with" —February 17, 2015 16:01 PM
"Mark, Check out our Nov. 2011 issue. It has a list of the cigar shops...not much has changed. Renato, I'll have our IT folks get your contact info. " —February 13, 2015 10:15 AM
"Hi Gordon, I´ve been a subscriber since the 90´s and I live in Norway. I have a photo and a list to show you as well as a question I would like to ask. How can I do that? I am sure you can get my e-mail from the system, could you send me a message? Brgds, Renato Langfeldt " —February 12, 2015 06:05 AM
"Gordon I am going to Havana in 10 days time from the UK , is there a list of cigar shops I should visit you can share and did you hire a taxi for the day whilst you were visiting the establishments? Best Mark " —February 11, 2015 02:51 AM
"Saw one open box of Cohiba 1966 Melia Habana, and Habana Libre said they had Partagas Grand Reservas, and they may have them all by the time you get there if they were telling you the truth. The shop at the Nacional is the only reason to go in that hotel...sorry I missed your find...but stand by the general lack of Behikes in the city. " —February 10, 2015 18:52 PM
"Hi Gordon. I will be going to Cuba feb 14th and I was wondering if you came across these cigars at any of the LCDH in Havana that you visited. 1. Cohiba 1966 2011 2. Partagas grand reserva 3. Montecristo #2 grand reserva" —February 10, 2015 18:05 PM
"Is there a recommended go-to online resource for current pricing (in USD) of all Cuban cigars in Cuba?" —February 10, 2015 18:02 PM
"I just returned Sunday night from Havana. The Hotel National had a full stock of Behikes. I even was able to get a box of Behikes at the airport durty free as well as some amazing chocolates on my way out. " —February 10, 2015 17:51 PM

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