Bye, Bye Embargo? Six Months May Tell

Every year, for God knows how long, it is rumored that the Cuban embargo will be lifted and tasty Havana cigars will be available once again here in the U.S. of A. In February of 1962, JFK instituted a full embargo against the island that resides just 90 miles south of the Florida Keys. When our newest President was elected, it seemed to be a shoe-in for Habanos products to finally be sold on American soil, but on September 2, 2010, President Barack Obama extended the embargo through September 14, 2011, determining that the embargo “is in the national interest of the United States.” Well ain’t that just another kick in the cojones. But that date is only six months away and you’ve got to wonder if this time the talk is ‘for-real’.

cuban-missile-crisis_lWhen the embargo originally hit, everyone in the industry was convinced it would only last a few weeks, a month or so tops. But almost half a century later, it is still illegal to enjoy the tobacco that has been said to be rolled on the thighs of beautiful Cuban women.

What will happen here in the US when the embargo is finally lifted… well, the speculation has been bandied about for quite some time. The fragile Cuban economy will no doubt be boosted by the influx of tourism, along with the sale of commodities like nickel, cane sugar, and rum. But as we lovers of the leaf know, it is the cigar industry that will instantly be all the rage once more. While it will be cool to walk into your favorite cigar shop and find Partagas Serie D, Cohiba Siglo, and Vegas Robaina right there on the cedar shelving of the walk-in humidor, one has to wonder at what price will these leafy treasures be sold at. And again speculation says it’ll be a pretty damned expensive proposition.

Cuban-cigarsSome of you reading can’t wait to ‘legally’ get your American Mitts on some Monte Edmundos, Punch Punch, and Partagas Lusitanias… and then there are many of you who don’t give a rat’s ash about Habana cigars and feel that today’s sticks from Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic are much better than Castro’s contraband. It’s an interesting debate amongst cigar smokers and almost as heated as any religious or political discussion.

Me, personally, I love a well made, real-deal Cubano and I’m really looking forward to their availability in the U.S. but again, price will be the HUGE determining factor whether I purchase them or not. Hey, I’m not going to stop smoking the cigars I’ve grown to know and love, but I will definitely need yet another Spanish Cedar lined box to house my earthy sticks of love.

TrinidadAnd what about the trademarks that carry the same names here in America and in Cuba? General Cigars has already fought a  long and expensive battle to keep the Cohiba brand name, and one has to wonder about Partagas, Punch, and other potential conflicts that will arise. But our friends at Altadis will have no trouble as the parent company has ownership in Habanos, who already owns the brand names like Montecristo and Hoyo de Monterrey, so there won’t be a conflict with any of those shared names.

I guess the real question is, will the end of the embargo cause a cigar boom all over again here in the United States? I think if they were sold at reasonable and affordable prices, the answer is yes, and existing domestic brands would feel the hurt for a short time. But who the hell really knows – again, it is all just speculation,  and we’ll all just have to wait and see.

Another thought that you don’t really hear about is the fact that when legalized, Cuban tobacco can be mixed with tobacco from other cigar producing nations to create some really interesting blends. While that could start a whole new revolution, remember that there is only so much tobacco that one small island can produce, and if you are sending a multitude of smokes to the U.S. it will create a shortage in other parts of the world, most likely driving up prices considerably.

One of the biggest areas of speculations of all asks if we’re really just waiting for that old bearded goat in the khakis to finally make his way to that big curing barn in the sky. That was the thought for quite some time, until his brother Raul took power, and man who is said to be even more radically communist and still a part of that politically hardened old guard.

As I said, September 14, is only six short months away and it remains to be seen if John F. Kennedy’s tobacco bitch-slap will actually make it to the half century mark. In the meantime, I think I can still make it through the day with my Nic, Honduran, and DR beauties. Please don’t worry, really, I’ll be just fine.

Til Next Week,


Tommy Z . JR Cigars Blog With the Zman


Handmade NIC
Wrapper: ECSU    Binder: ECSU    Filler: HON/NIC
Medium-Full Bodied

GENUINE COUNTERFEIT CUBANSThe Genuine Counterfeit Cuban Cigar is a blend of potent Esteli, Nicaraguan Ligero and Viso from the Perez Plantation, mixed with a base of Cuban-seed Seco. Bound with an Ecuadorian binder and rich, silky rosado Ecuadorian Sumatran wrapper, this cuadrado-pressed cigar offers the smoker a velvety-soft smoking experience with a distinct spicy bite.


Handmade HON
Wrapper: HON/CTBL    Binder: HON/CT    Filler: HON/NIC
Medium-Full Bodied

dtclasico-bigThe Don Tomás Clásico is a return to the original, pre-1990 “Cigar Boom” Don Tomás. During the boom years, many Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos became scarce and blends changed to tobacco resources from other countries, like Indonesia, Columbia, and Mexico. Now back to its classic Honduran roots, this cigar offers a rich, smooth, and flavorful old-world smoking experience.


Handmade HON
Wrapper: ECSU    Binder: CTBL    Filler: HON/NIC/DR
Full Bodied

HOYO DE MONTERREY DARK SUMATRAA full-bodied line extension to the majestic Hoyo de Monterrey brand, the Dark Sumatra is wrapped in the darkest sun-grown Ecuadorian Sumatran leaf. This blend uses select tobaccos from five nations to provide a rich, robust smoke packed with earthy flavors. This is a cigar for those who crave a heavier, Cuban-style smoke.

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