Cuban Cigar Inventory

Montecristos of all sizes, Romeo y Julietas galore and Cohiba Maduros for everyone you've ever known. Havana's cigar shops are full of cigars on this trip.

So far I've been to seven Casa del Habano cigar stores, including the standouts at the Meliá Habana Hotel, Quinta Avenida, Club Habana and the Habana Libre Hotel. Rumors of a cigar shortage have been overblown, but there's certainly things you can and cannot get.

As Gordon Mott pointed out in a news story yesterday, there are no Behikes on the shelves here. (There may be a few behind the counter held for dear customers, common practice in any cigar shop, but unlike last year you won't walk into a Cuban cigar store and see stacks of that distinctive black, glossy outer box.) I had heard they were impossible to find, but I've asked on every stop and have received the same, weary answer. No Behike. Some say it has been months since they've seen one, others, like the shop at the Habana Libre, just ran out.

Punch Punch cigars seem a little short, and you seldom see many H. Upmann Sir Winstons or Ramon Allones Gigantes. But aside from those cigars, you can do very well shopping here indeed.

If you've shopped for cigars in Cuba, you know that prices are fixed, so the price in one shop will be the same price as another. So why go to different shops? Selection varies from store to store. Here are a few notes from each stop:

Club Habana

A store that's always a bit on the quiet side, and one that always seems to have something of interest that you won't find anywhere else. I noticed many boxes stamped 2011, including Partagás Serie D No. 4s (153.75 CUC) and Cohiba Siglo VI (490 CUC). Most shops here are full of cigars marked 2014, and some 2013. I have yet to see one stamped 2015. When you go, spend 5 CUC on the house cigar, the legendary Monsdale, always pay extra attention to the boxes in the far left corner of the humidor. You typically find something with some age lurking there.

Habana Libre

I know the Habana Libre is not as well known as some of the legendary shops here like Club Habana and Quinta Avenida. But from all my visits over the past few years this store is certainly getting attention from the Cuban cigar industry. It's a massive store, and it gets great inventory. It had dozens of boxes of the new Añejado cigars in stock on my visit, far more than any other shop here, and also plenty of all three 2014 Edición Limitadas, including the Cohiba, the most difficult of the trio to find. It even had a box of Punch Serie d'Oro No. 2 EL 2013 cigars in the cabinet dedicated to single cigar sales—quite a find. They also had several boxes of Romeo y Julieta Cazadores, rustic smokes that I enjoy quite a bit.

Meliá Habana

A favorite of Cigar Aficionado's, this shop was devoid of any 2014 EL cigars but had otherwise good stocks with a particularly strong representation of Bolivar. They had Bolivar Belicoso Fino in both dress box and cabinets (191.25 CUCs for each, and the cabinet is the far better buy). This shop always seems to have cabinets of 50, and on this trip I saw Partagás Shorts (202.50 CUC, 50-count) and Lusitanias (567.50 CUC, 50-count). They also had Trinidad Fundadores (261.60 CUC), which you certainly don't see everywhere.

5 y 16 (Quinta Avenida)

A must-stop shop crafted with several small rooms, each wonderfully decorated, with an attentive, knowledgeable staff. Say hello to the great Carlos Robaina while you are here. This was the only shop I saw with robust stocks of H. Upmann Sir Winstons (331.25 CUC) and it had plenty of Diplomaticos No. 2s (187.50 CUC).

Hotel Nacional

A big shop that's often quite quiet, the Nacional is worth a stop because it sometimes has something you don't see in other places. In this case it was the new Partagás Serie D No. 6 (5.40 CUC for a single, which I bought). The squat little cigar has a good kick, and was quite a pleasant way to conclude an afternoon in Cuba.

Meliá Cohiba

A shop that's good for spot buying, with a spacious smoking area to linger and work or chat.

I still have plenty more to see and do here before tonight's gala dinner concluding the Festival. And it's 9:30 a.m. as I write this—time to light up my first cigar of the day.



"This is an exciting time, and things are certainly moving toward in that direction, but much remains to be done before the embargo is lifted. I wish I had an answer for you, but there is no timetable. Only Congress can end the embargo." —July 20, 2015 08:45 AM
"Dear David The Cuban Flag will be raised today at the Cuban Embassy in DC for the first time in 54 years. When will Cuban cigars be available in the US market? I don't mean being able to bring back $100 worth of Cuban tobacco to the US, but I would like to walk in to my local cigar shop and be able to purchase Cuban cigars. Would you know when this will happen? Please let me know. Thank you so much. " —July 20, 2015 08:21 AM
"Dear David The Cuban Flag will be raised today at the Cuban Embassy in DC for the first time in 54 years. When will Cuban cigars be available in the US market? I don't mean being able to bring back $100 worth of Cuban tobacco to the US, but I would like to walk in to my local cigar shop and be able to purchase Cuban cigars. Would you know when this will happen? Please let me know. Thank you so much. " —July 20, 2015 08:11 AM
"Kerry, yes I have. I thought it was very good. Love the shape, and enjoyed the cigar quite a bit. It's a nice RE." —March 10, 2015 21:22 PM
"David, have you tried the Bolivar Redentor-exclusivo Brasil? If yes, what are your thoughts on it? " —March 10, 2015 11:03 AM
"Gerald, thanks for your service. Good question about supplying the United States. It's a tall order. But it's certainly on their minds." —March 4, 2015 23:23 PM
"Kerry, thanks for the comment." —March 4, 2015 23:22 PM
"Man would I love to be your sidekick on some of your trips. I'm retired Navy and I was able to sample some cubans while stationed overseas. If they are unable to keep inventory in their local market, what's going to happen when the gates up for the USA. " —March 3, 2015 23:24 PM
"I always look forward to your informative articles." —February 27, 2015 18:59 PM
"Thank you Robert, that I don't deny. Readers like you make my job even better. Thanks for the comment." —February 27, 2015 17:23 PM
"Man you have a great job!!" —February 27, 2015 13:56 PM