FrontRunners: Counterfeit - and Proud of It

Considering that more than half of the so-called Havana cigars purchased in the United States are counterfeit, it was only a matter of time before some enterprising company came up with the real deal. Genuine counterfeit Cuban cigars, that is. The cigars’ cedar box is boldly stamped “Genuine Pre-Embargo Cuban Cigars,” but the bright red “Counterfeit” overstamp ex-poses the ruse, as does the “Made in Estelí, Nicaragua” notation.

More than just novelty items, however, these cigars are superior to many of the Havanas they imitate. They are hand-rolled in Nicaragua’s Tabacalera Perdomo factory, and the dark and oily Ecuadoran wrapper is paired with an equally rich binder and filler from the Estelí Valley. The result is a medium-strong, mouth-
filling taste tinged with an aromatic sweetness. The Estelí Valley and Cuba’s Vuelta Abajo have similar soils, so these counterfeits have the same undercurrent of earthiness found in Partagás, Bolivar, and many other top Havana brands.

The cigars are packed in a traditional Cuban half wheel of 50 and even challenge the Havana product in price (about $185 for a box of 50). The bundles are wrapped in a replica of the official Republica de Cuba seal, which, of course, is stamped Counterfeit. The counterfeit cigars are available in six sizes and can be purchased by calling 800.JR.CIGARS. At least these Cubans you can smoke without doubting their provenance.

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