For many years, Cuba has been the standard for quality cigars. It is known as the most luxurious tobacco product in the world even to people who do not smoke cigars.

The country’s biggest export has always been celebrities’ favorite pastime, but that changed after the 1962 U.S. embargo. With Americans unable to legally obtain a Cuban smoke (unless they travel to Havana), finding good alternatives to Cuban cigars has become essential.

Related: 10 Best Humidor for Beginners

It was always going to be difficult competing with Cuba’s perfect climate and agricultural conditions for growing cigar tobacco. However, other nations have emerged as industry powerhouses. From Mexico and Nicaragua down to the Dominican Republic, anyone from stogie purists to cigar newbies can still enjoy a heavenly smoke without needing Cuba’s nutrient-rich soil.

Cigar enthusiasts all over the world seek unique aromas and flavor profiles. But how do beginners select an appropriate Cuban cigar substitute that will satisfy their craving for the genuine article? Let’s find out.

WHAT MAKES A GREAT CUBAN CIGAR ALTERNATIVE?

Spotting counterfeit Cuban smokes is an ongoing headache for cigar lovers (let alone novices), so it is better to err on the side of caution with a fantastic Cuban cigar alternative.

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People often think that Cuban cigars have rich flavors and intricate complexities, but nothing could be further from reality. From fragrant to strong-bodied; simple or multifaceted — there are so many amazing options on this island nation that cater for every palate including those starting out in smoking.

New-world producers cannot replicate construction methods or flavors exactly like those found in Havana-made sticks but they can pay homage by cultivating top-quality tobacco according to traditional methods established by Cubans themselves. No other stick tastes quite like one made from leaf grown in Pinar del Rio province but same applies with Honduran or Dominican filler leaves rolled into binder and wrapper sourced from these respective countries.

5 BEST CUBAN CIGAR ALTERNATIVES FOR BEGINNERS

Here are five ideal Cuban cigar substitutes for novices that will greatly dampen your craving for an actual Cuban stick. Each of them possesses some elements such as flawless wrapping paper, rich coffee undertones or exceptional aromas which pay tribute to the motherland of stogie making and culture.

SAN CRISTOBAL QUINTESSENCE ROBUSTO

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Nicaragua

Length: 5.5 inches

Ring Gauge: 50

Strength: Medium – Full-bodied smoke (not too strong but not light either)

Smoking Time Estimate: 45-60 minutes approximately

This full-flavored, medium-to-full-bodied Nicaraguan blend crafted by award-winning father-and-son team Pepin and Jaime Garcia is an exquisite smoke with a smooth, creamy cappuccino finish that’s hard not to love. It boasts a toothy, oily Ecuadorian Habano wrapper in a shade slightly lighter than milk chocolate, which showcases a colorful parrot soaring above tropical foliage on its band.

Rolled at the renowned My Father Cigars S.A. factory in Estelí, Nicaragua; the San Cristobal Quintessence Robusto has a captivating aroma reminiscent of baking spices and molasses. After lighting up this gem, expect roasted coffee bean and earth flavors mingling with black pepper spice on your palate — sweet spice notes dance across the tongue with hints of almond appearing on retrohale (exhaling through nose after puffing out smoke during tasting period).

ASHTON ESTATE SUN GROWN 21 YEAR SALUTE

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper: Dominican Republic

To celebrate their twentieth anniversary, Ashton Cigars created a beautiful cigar called the Ashton Estate Sun Grown 21 Gun Salute. This cigar has an aged sun-grown wrapper from Chateau de la Fuente farm.

When touched it feels rough, this Dominican puro is light and creamy with hints of cedar, dark chocolate, leather, and mellow spice. Each flavor change is subtle making it ideal for beginners who want to develop their palate further or explore more flavors on the cigar wheel.

PLEDGE BY EP CARRILLO

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic

Wrapper: Habano Connecticut

Binder: Ecuador

Filler: Nicaragua

Length: 5

Ring gauge: 50

Strength: Medium – Full-bodied

Smoke time (approx): 50-60 minutes

The Pledge Prequel marks the third release under E.P. Carrillo’s Perez-Carrillo Series which pays tribute to his family’s century-long history in the tobacco industry.

Cigar Aficionado named this box-pressed smoke its 2020 Cigar of the Year. It features a dark espresso-colored blend with a Cuban-seed varietal wrapper grown in Connecticut. Combined with an Ecuadorian binder and all-Nicaraguan filler; this stick offers plenty of complexity for seasoned smokers but remains approachable enough for novices.

A spicy black pepper blast followed by vibrant yet complex notes of black cherry, espresso, licorice root and zesty spices awaken your senses while warming baked apple sweetness coats your taste buds on the retrohale.

CURIVARI BUENAVENTURA BV 500

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper: Nicaraguan

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Length/Ring Size/Shape (inches): 5.25 x 50 Robusto

Strength Category: Medium-bodied  

Time to Smoke (minutes): Fifty minutes

This wallet-friendly Nicaraguan puro from Curivari Cigars has an old-school Cuban look with its simple, understated band, and oily and incredibly smooth milk chocolate wrapper. Although the Curivari Buenaventura BV 500 may not be the most complex cigar out there it does showcase the flavor of Nicaraguan leaf.

With a pre-light aroma of hay and light fruit sweetness, beginners through experienced smokers will enjoy this medium-bodied smoke that punches above its weight class for price. Cedar dominates but cocoa, earthiness and slightly sweet spice on finish help keep this tasty well-balanced everyday smoke cool-burning.

HVC SERIE A CANONES

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper: Corojo ‘99

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Nicaragua

Length/Ring Size/Shape (inches): 5.5 x 54 Box-pressed Toro

Strength Category: Medium  

Time to Smoke (minutes): Eighty minutes

Packaged in boxes of ten, HVC Serie A Canones features Grade A tobacco throughout its blend. This Cubanesque smoke is covered by an oily Corojo ’99 wrapper grown in AGANORSA’s Nicaraguan farms which wafts aromas reminiscent of almonds, earth and refined dates.

Once you’ve sliced through the double cap expect classic captivating Cubanesque flavors to come alive from this HVC cigars creation. It boasts a wonderfully rich yet balanced blend that showcases cedar woodiness against leatheriness alongside red pepper notes (particularly prevalent upon retrohaling); these then give way to maple syrup sweetness before culminating in hickory smokiness that progressively intensifies.

CONCLUSION

It’s worth noting that you don’t have to hold a Cuban cigar in order enjoy yourself while smoking one; as our list proves there are excellent alternatives available which can be equally emblematic of success.

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