Bill Sniffs Out the Fake

I can’t believe the week went by so fast. It would have been a lot nicer if I had this written sooner but I waited until the last minute. I had another column ready but something came up, cigar related, and I wanted to talk about it. Cuban Cohiba’s, Robustos to be exact.

First let me say that people love to give me cigars. I get them all the time. When ever anyone goes South of the border they almost always bring me back cigars. It is very nice of them and I’m always sure to give them a sincere thanks. The cigars are almost always fake. I can’t think of one time they were actually real. This time was probably going to be no different. Well, the only thing different was that he wanted to sell them to me. 
A guy I know just came back from a two-week vacation on the commie island of Cuba. He had videos of everyone driving around in their 50’s era American made cars. The family out on the sidewalk slaughtering a pig, blood running down the sidewalk. It doesn’t seem that anyone owns a shirt there. I’m talking about the men, of course. They were all wearing their flip-flops, no shirts and tracking pig blood everywhere. I guess if you’re a commie, it’s Paradise.

He returned this week with four boxes of Cohibas. His wife actually had a few boxes in her bags as well but she got busted going through customs. They crushed up the cigars right in front of her. That just doubled his investment. 

So he wanted me to buy a box. 25 Robustos for $150. Not bad but I told him they’re probably fakes, so no way. He brought them over so I could see them for myself. 

Better Take A Look For Myself

The box looked legit. Well made. Bottom was stamped, not printed. Had all the right labels. Hologram, bar code on the green stamp (Republic of Cuba or whatever that one is), complete with the number. Things were looking good. 

When I opened the box the cigars looked nice, no red flags, triple capped. The bands were bright yellow, embossed. The little squares were crisp and clear. Now I’m thinking these babies are real and I’m going to get a whole box for $150.

Then I got out my magnifying glass and took a look at that lady on the band. I’m sure she has a name but I don’t know what it is. There is a background that’s white in the same shape of her head, just a little bigger. Her head was not printed inside that white background perfectly, they actually over lapped a little bit and the back part of her head was outside the white background. 

Not actual cigar band

Nope! Don’t want them. He assured me they were real. He got them from his brother-in-law who knows a guy that stole them from the factory. That’s his story at least. I will admit that they did have a lot of check marks ticked off in their favor, but I just had a feeling I was about to get screwed. 
The deal was I’d buy them if I could cut one open and inspect it. If it was real I’d buy what was left. If it were fake he would walk and have one less cigar in the box. He took a pass. Said he would have them all sold by the end of the day anyway. Which I’m sure he will. 

Phil had stopped by to check them out for himself but lucky for him I had done all the detective work. I stopped him from making a big mistake. Probably owes me a little something, but I won’t push it.

Big Money in Fakes

Must be big money in those fakes. If someone is going to spend the time and money making them, why wouldn’t they just put their own band on the cigars and sell them honestly? Most of the tourists on the beach don’t know what a Cohiba is, all they’re looking for is a Cuban cigar. I’ve had some Cuban’s over the years and to be honest they were good but not that good. Do you see how much they cost for real? $425 for that box of Robustos. No way. The embargo put some kind of prestige on those cigars they didn’t deserve. Making them hard to get made people want them more. But we’re talking commies here, what have they ever made that was so great in the first place?

It would be like people fighting to get a Soviet Volga car. I’d be surprised if guys were at the border of the Soviet Union telling someone “my brother-in-law knows a guy that ripped off a Lada from the factory, I can let you have it real cheap.” 

There is a demand for them just because you can stash a box of cigars in your suitcase and because those commie lovers at Cigar Aficionado slobbered all over Fidel before he went on his trip where I’m sure he’s working on his tan right now. No sunscreen where he is, I’m sure.   But because of all of that, people want their Cuban Cigars. Risk getting into trouble with Customs. Ripping off other people selling them fakes. It all makes me want them even less.

There are too many really good cigars being made nowadays. I’d rather support honest people doing an honest business. Someday if Cuba ever goes legit I might change my mind, but for now they can keep their cigars. To all the people that pay those outrageous prices I just have to wonder what if I took the bands off the fakes and the real Cohibas, would you really be able to tell the difference? I would suspect most people wouldn’t know the difference. Why send your money to that corrupt government? If you want them that bad I know a guy who can get you a box real cheap.


Bill is the acting Briar Report Chief of Staff,

he is also the Managing Editor of

He can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @StogieReport