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Inspect your Cuban cigar box!

Inspect the interior of your Cuban cigar box!

Inspect your Cuban cigars themselves!

Cuban Cigar Lounge is proud to offer only the unmistakable excellence of top quality Cuban cigars, straight from the original Cuban tobacco factories and carefully stored in professional humidor cabinets.

Cuban cigars are regarded as one of life's most indulgent luxuries. Each year the Cuban cigar production falls far short of the worldwide demand for these premium vitolas. They are highly sought after by both the Cuban cigar aficionado and the cigar novice, and as a result, the Habanos routinely cost in excess of $20 US dollars for a single double corona. Add to that equation that the importation of Cuban Cigars is illegal in the United States and without any doubt counterfeiters are there to take advantages of the situation. Therefore it is important to know where you buy your Cuban cigars and therefore Cuban Cigar Lounge prides itself in selling only the finest Habano cigars directly from the Cuban cigar factories. We know the importance of a fine Cuban cigar and we want to educate our customers and make them aware of the details involved in picking a real Habano from a counterfeit!! The best customer is a happy customer and Cuban Cigar Lounge hasn't found an unhappy one yet!

The number one rule of identifying counterfeit Cuban cigars is the age-old saying "caveat emptor" or, buyer beware. Always keep this in mind whenever you are purchasing Cuban Habanos, even when you are purchasing them overseas in what appears to be a reputable tobacconist's establishment. Many fake Cuban cigars are sold from storefronts in countries where Cuban cigars are completely legal and sometimes without the knowledge of the store owner.

The second rule when buying a Cuban cigar is "attention to detail". This is where your astute eye will help to protect your wallet and humidor from the burden of fake Habanos. We can not over emphasize how important it is for you to be critical when inspecting a box of Cuban cigars. Below is the detailed knowledge necessary to allow you the ability to begin routinely inspecting Cuban cigars for their authenticity with confidence. Please find out for yourself that Cuban Cigar Lounge's Habanos are of that superior Cuban cigar quality that only the finest premium vitolas are made of.

To guarantee top quality cigars of Cuban tobacco there are different quality identifications on either the Cuban cigar boxes, inside the Cuban cigar boxes and most importantly the Cuban cigars themselves. When buying your cigars, always make sure that ALL identifications are present.

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INSPECT YOUR CUBAN CIGAR BOX!

1. Warranty Seal: "REPUBLICA DE CUBA" This Cuban tax seal/stamp has been applied to every box of Cuban cigars since 1912 to ensure the provenance of the cigars enclosed.

OLD CUBAN CIGAR WARRANTY STAMP

Originally this green and white stamp came in three sizes: Large (~ 2 1/2" wide), Small (~1 1/4" wide), and Miniature (~ 13/16" wide). However in early 2000 Cuban cigar boxes began appearing with the new updated Warranty seal.

NEW CUBAN CIGAR WARRANTY STAMP

The new Cuban cigar seals incorporate finer details including micro printing, denser color, serial numbers, and even a a hidden UV watermark. These new Cuban cigar seals are much more difficult to counterfeit and are a huge improvement over the old style ones.

Typically the seal is applied to the front left edge of dress boxes wrapping top to bottom with the first fold over the top edge of the Cuban cigar box falling within "oval coat of arms crest." On Cuban cigar cabinets, the seal is placed over the sliding lids' edge on the upper right corner. The Miniature seals are self-stick and only applied to small 3/5 paks of Cuban cigars typically over the top flap of the cardboard box. Closely examine all Cuban cigar seals for good registration of print. All new Cuban cigar boxes should have the newly updated seal.

2. Habanos: Check for the Habanos Chevron on the top upper right corner of Cuban cigar dress boxes and top lower left corner of cabinets. This label is ~13/16" wide and features a black silhouette of a Cuban tobacco leaf followed by "Habanos" in bold red letters that are edge highlighted with yellow/orange. Also on the label are two gold stripes at the top and bottom and between them two fine black lines. This seal will be on all boxes of Cuban cigars exported since 1994. The Limited Edition Cuban cigars (Edición Limitada) often carry an extra seal in the same corner stating its Limited Edition status.

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CUBAN CIGAR WARRANTY HALLMARKS
The following three Hallmarks are not ink stamps, but are actual burned-in marks by the branding of the bottom of the Cuban cigar boxes - you should run your fingers over them and feel their depth.

3. Habanos s.a. in stylized letters - this is the name of current Cuban cigar company which exports Habanos and will appear on all Cuban cigar boxes exported since October 1994. Cubatobaco's logo would appear in place of this hallmark on Cuban cigar boxes dated from 1985 through September 1994. This stamp should be on the bottom of the Cuban cigar box.

4. Hecho en Cuba in a simple font encircled by a straight-sided oval were added in 1960 to replace the same words, formerly in English, "Made in Cuba".

6. Factory and date stamp also on the bottom. These stamps used to be an excellent tool in helping to verify the authenticity of boxes of Cuban cigars, but in 1999 Habanos S.A. decided to change the entire NIVELACUSO coding to a new "top secret" format. Then, in May of 1999, Habanos started shipping Cuban cigars with an even newer factory/date coding. However many of the Cuban cigar factories did not implement these newer codes or started coding boxes with a hybrid code that was comprised of the old Cuban cigar codes, the new Cuban cigar codes were cracked, and the even newer codes as well. Needless to say, many of the Cuban cigar box codes from 1999 still remain a mystery to most. Thankfully, Habanos S.A. seems to have adopted yet another, but easier to read format for all the date codes beginning in the Year 2000.

A Cuban cigar box should show little or no signs of wear and tear. Overly faded, knicked, and scratched Cuban cigar boxes should be regarded as suspect since many counterfeiters utilize legit recycled boxes to help sell their inferior product.

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Inspect the interior of your Cuban cigar box!

  • 1. Inside the Cuban cigar box will be a ~4 1/4" x 2 3/4" rectangular piece of parchment-like paper bearing the Habanos logo in brown.
    CUBAN CIGAR WARRANTY PAPER
    It will read "These Havanas have been made with the finest tobacco in the world. For fullest enjoyment, these cigars should be stored in a humidor, away from products with strong odour and under correct conditions of temperature (16 C-18 C) and humidity (65% - 70%)." in four languages: Spanish, English, French, and German.
  • 2. There should be no cellophane on handmade cigars except in the 3/5 pak Petacas style packaging. Machine made cigars are typically packed in cellophane sleeves.
  • 3.
    CUBAN CIGAR SEPARATOR
    Dress boxes and non-SLB cabinets will have a plain cedar separator sheet between the two levels of Cuban cigars. This thin sheet will have a small finger rounded or a straight 45 degree notch cut out of its upper right hand corner. Cabinet style Cuban cigar boxes will have a cedar top sheet featuring a version of the brand's logo.
  • 4. Dress boxes, except those containing tubos, will have a paper flap attached to the front edge of the Cuban cigar box that flips up and toward the front to expose the Cuban cigars. It will typically feature a secondary brand vista. Rafael Gonzalez boxes have a unique four sided plain paper interior protection flap in lieu of the normal front flap. Cuban cigar boxes with tubed cigars have no such flap.
  • 5. A glassine strip of paper will be placed over the rings to protect them in dress boxes.
  • 6. All of the Cuban cigar bands should be in a near perfect line on the best facing (side) of each Cuban cigar. The color and registration of each ring should be consistent with all those in the box. Slight die cutting imperfections do occur, however if in doubt, assume the Cuban cigars to be suspect and scrutinize all other aspects closely.
  • 7. Cuban cigar cabinets with sliding lids will have the Cuban cigars tied in a small wheel or round with a yellow ribbon. The ribbon will be imprinted with Cuban cigar brand and vitola names. It is important to ensure that the ribbon is made of a silky material and that it is tightly tied around the Cuban cigars. Look to ensure it has not been untied and retied.
  • 8. Nothing more than the slightest hint of ammonia should be present in the Cuban cigar bouquet. If you notice a definite ammonia smell upon opening the Cuban cigar box, odds are they are fakes.

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Inspect the Cuban cigars themselves!

  • 1. The Cuban cigars will be of uniformed color and if there is any variation at all the Cuban cigars will be organized within the Cuban cigar box with the darkest ones being placed on the left to the lightest one situated at the far right.
  • 2. The Cuban cigars will be of the exact length as specified for the vitola. There is rarely greater than 1/16th of an inch of deviation from the published lengths of Cuban cigars. This is probably the easiest counterfeit check to perform and it is seldom done.
    CUBAN CIGAR LENGTH
  • 3. The ring gauges of the Cuban cigar should be as specified also. However, you will commonly witness slight deviations plus or minus a ring size. This is particularly true of Cuban cigars that are box pressed - remember the ring gauge is determined prior to the Cuban cigars being box pressed.
  • 4. Cuban cigars destined for export are typically very well made with solid bunching and close attention to detail. The tobacco should never be "booked."
  • 5. Cuban Corojo wrappers are typically very finely veined, if at all.
  • 6. All ringed Cuban cigars should have tight clean Cuban cigar bands with good color and embossing, if applicable, and should have the word "Habana" on it. They should show no signs of wear, creases, or glue stains as these are common indicators of rings that have been rebanded onto other Cuban cigars. With that said however, it is important that you not be overly critical of the rings as misregistrations and imperfect embossings are not all that uncommon. In fact many of the mistakes are so common, they in themselves are proof the bands are legit.
  • 7. The foot of each Cuban cigar should be cut cleanly and evenly with no chipping.
  • 8.
    CUBAN CIGAR TRIPLE CAP
    Inspect the cape (cap) of each Cuban cigar. Havana parejos (straight sided cigars) have a finely finished cap that is commonly referred to as the "triple cap." You can actually see three fine lines from the flagging of the cap as it was wrapped around the head of the Cuban cigar. The cap on figurados are finished with a "switch back" flag - the wrapper is rolled the to the very tip of the head and trimmed to a thin strip which is then wound back in the same direction down the Cuban cigar.
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