"There are countless horrible things happening all over the world and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible." -Auberon Waugh
Before retirement I liked to pick up boxes of Cuban cigars at the duty free shops in the Middle East. It wasn't long ago that I found that the best Cuban cigars are either exported or reserved for the nomenklatura (or whatever the word is in Spanish). The cigars available on the streets of Havana are decidedly second rate.P.J. O'Rourke got it right when he wrote that you cannot get good Chinese takeout in Beijing, and cigars are rationed in Havana and that tells you all you need to know about Communism.
I found that the best Cuban cigars are either exported or reserved for the nomenklatura.That's a fact. Communism eventually ruins everything, and it even managed to ruin, or seriously damage, Cuba's reputation of being the home of the world's best cigars. Castro, always on the scout for sources of hard currency revenues, lowered the standards so that he could sell more cigars, but the quality became so erratic, that Zino Davidoff, a Swiss company that markets premium cigars under its own name, stopped using Cuban tobacco and shifted to Central American and Dominican leaf. I haven't had a Cuban cigar in years, but the best ones I ever smoked came from England and Canada (decades ago).
Kinda of off topic because this inquisitive mind wants to know. What happens to the leftover leaf pieces after a cigar is crafted?
A cigar store owner once gave me a lesson about the decline of Cuban cigars. The communists' agricultural policies ruined the tobacco fields. The owners and producers who could fled the country, took their seed, and set up shop in the Dominican Republic. The labor force that processed the tobacco and rolled the cigars lost all incentive to produce a quality product. The accumulated knowledge and materials that once made Cubans the best is no longer there and won't be recreated any time soon.
That's right. My favorite cigars (back when I smoked cigars) were manufactured in Honduras: Hoyo de Monterrey (particularly the Excalibur). The family that started the Honduran operation was originally from Cuba and fled the communists. In fact, there are several cigar brands that compete under the same name - Romeo y Julieta, Partagas, quite a few others - some made in Cuba, some in Honduras, the Dominican, Republic, Nicaragua - under completely different ownership.
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