Cigar Aficionado

How To Spot A Fake Cohiba

How To Spot A Fake Cohiba

Cuba’s famous Cohiba brand is one of the most counterfeited cigars in the world. Its reputation and high prices have led it to be illegally copied over and over again, but the cigar remains an object of envy and desire, one that every cigar lover dreams about smoking.

Here are the elements of the newest Cohiba band that you should look for to decide if it’s authentic or not:

1) Holographic Taino Indian Head
Front and center on the band is a holographic image of the famous Taino Indian head. Look closer and you will see that there is a smaller head within the larger. This “head-within-head” effect is a telling sign that the band is authentic.

2) Holographic Elements
Holograms of the word “Cuba” and the Taino Indian head logo repeat on the gilded top edge of the band.

3) Nine White Squares
Nine rows of white squares in a checkerboard pattern run from the gilded holographic top edge to the solid gold line that spans the bottom third of the band. It’s important to note that the squares are full and do not get cut off either on the top or bottom row. 

4) Repeating Logos
The Cuba and Taino Indian head logos repeat along the gilded, holographic bottom and top edges.

5) Embossed Lettering
The famous Cohiba on white background with a square, gold border is embossed with proper gilding. It is a lustrous, metallic gold, however, it is non-holographic.

Created in 1966, Cohiba was not commercially released until 1982. The brand is known for its canary yellow coloring and famous white-and-black checkboard band. The heart and soul of Cohiba’s packaging, though, is the famous Taino Indian head logo, a graphic depiction of Cuba’s native tribe. (The word “Cohiba” is the Taino word for tobacco.)

Produced by Vrijdag Premium Printing in the Netherlands, the Cohiba band shown here combines a beautiful, modern design with the latest in security measures that make it significantly more difficult to counterfeit. The upgraded and much larger band features a Behike-style hologram and golden Taino Indian head, placed center stage in the field of black-and-white squares that sit above the word Cohiba.

As Gordon Mott explains in his article 50 Years of Cohiba how the brand’s aesthetics have changed:

“Cohiba's labels and bands have evolved, but in one form or another that same Indian head has remained part of the design, even if it has become less prominent over time. The originals were packed in dress boxes, but by the time the line was expanded, the brand moved into plain, wooden boxes. Each had the name Cohiba, the vitola, or size of the cigar, and often the number of cigars packed in each box.

Cohiba's bands have changed considerably. The earliest versions feature rows of white dots on a black background over the word Cohiba, with a yellow stripe at the bottom. The dots soon became squares, and the words ‘La Habana, Cuba’ appeared under the logo. The word Cohiba later became gilded, the black letters becoming gold, and the ‘La’ was dropped from ‘Habana, Cuba.’ “

For more on Cohiba and counterfeits, check out these links and videos:

50 Years of Cohiba

[Video] Counterfeit Cuban Cigars Part I: How To Tell A Fake From The Real Deal
[Video] Counterfeit Cuban Cigars Part II: Cutting Open Counterfeits