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In the event you did not create it to this year's XXI Habanos Festival, which celebrated the 500th anniversary of San Cristobal de La Habana, since the city of Havana was originally known as, or are about to embark for a different nation where you can legally buy Havana cigars (that will be practically anyplace else in the world except the USA, where it's prohibited to sell Cuban goods ), here are seven of the best brands in our embargoed neighbor that we feel are well worth seeking out. It's currently legal to bring back up to 100 Cuban cigars--that is about four boxes--as long as they are for the private use and not for resale.

RELATED This Beverly Hills Whiskey Hideaway Feels Like a Private Club from the Wild West Among the World's Greatest BBQ Pitmasters Has Made the Ultimate Guide to Steak Adam Perry Lang Is Finally Making His World Famous Barbecue Again But first, some caveats. They're More rampant than ever--even in Cuba--though currently Costa Rica is providing Mexico a struggle for the title of Counterfeit Cuban Cigars Per Square Mile. So be cautious. If anybody offers you a Cohiba Esplendido for $5, you know it can not be real. Some of the best places to buy authentic Cuban cigars are the United Kingdom (where they are rigidly inspected by exclusive Habanos importers Hunters & Frankau), Spain--that also gets a few of the best Havanas--and any of the official La Casa del Habanos Cuban government-sanctioned retail shops; there are now 90 of these globally. Duty-free shops are also a safe haven for authentic Cuban cigars, although we recently purchased a three-pack of our coveted Montecristo No. two pyramids in Dubai International Airport and found them to be substandard so far as flavor was concerned (a consequence of poor leaf selection and insufficient aging). Plus, one of those cigars was rolled much too closely to permit a decent draw. However, all three Montecristos were genuine Habanos products. This brings up the ongoing problem with Cuban cigars of quality control. This is confirmed by Mitchell Orchant, managing director of C.Gars, Ltd, one of the biggest purveyors of Cuban cigars in England, who also critiques the freshness of some cigars, that is, whether they had been obsolete sufficiently prior to being released. So a good rule of thumb is, after you get your Cuban cigars safely house, place them in your humidor for at least a month or two to give them a while to more fully develop the flavors that created Havana famous. Trinidad As well as celebrating the 500th anniversary of San Cristobal de La Habana (which also happens to be the name of a rather mild-smoking Havana cigar which has been introduced in 1999 and showcased in the festival), the XXI Festival was spotlighting the Trinidad brand, that originated in 1996 since Fidel Castro's VIP cigar to supplant the Cohiba, that started being publically marketed in 1982. This season, three new shapes have been introduced: a 4 1/2 x 50 media luna, a 5 7/10 x 53 Esmeralda, along with a 4 11/12 x 56 Topes, that initially was a 2016 limited variant. Cohiba Still among the very widely-counterfeited cigars on the planet, only buy these from dependable sources. The full-powered, large-ringed Behike is a high-priced smoke worth paying for, simply for bragging rights, with all the 54 and 56 ring gauges especially sought after. Another benefit is the newly-launched Cohiba Robusto Reserva, and while we typically do not quote prices because of the fluctuating market for Cuban cigars, it is safe to say that these will generally run more than $100 a rod. Employing the best of three year old tobaccos, it is offered in only one dimensions: a 4 7/8 x 50 robusto. Only 500 individually numbered boxes have been released. For something milder (and noticeably less costly ) attempt the Siglo VI. Montecristo Regardless of our disappointing experience in Dubai, the No. 2 pirámide remains our all time favorite. To get a more compact smoke, try out the No. 4--the best selling cigar in the world. Partagás This is a porterhouse steak and Napa Cabernet smoke, in almost any size. However, in addition to the Series D No.4 Robusto, another favourite of ours is that the newly-introduced 6 1/4 x47 Presidente, using its easy-to-light pinched foot and easy-to-clip Perfecto cap. This is another cigar that never disappoints, particularly for those in between times when you are not very sure of what to smoke. Ideally suited to either a Plymouth Gin martini (additional dry, olive on the side) or a Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask, we've recently switched from the Short Churchill into the bigger-ringed 5 1/4 x 55 Broad Churchill Robusto. Besides offering a slightly fuller flavor, it seems to be more physically fitting into the contours' namesake. Another great medium strength cigar, that this gentle smoke keeps just enough earthiness to make it appropriate for early to late evenings. Orchant of C.Gars believes it's the best from the H.Upmann range and we concur. Hoyo de Monterrey Do not fall in the preconception that all Cuban cigars are powerful. This brand certainly is not, although its strength will vary by shape. Thinking about having a Irish Whiskey and a cigar? Try a Powers Three Swallow and also an Epicure Especial 5 1/2 x 50 Robusto. Punch The Double Corona is a perfect game for a snifter of X.O. Cognac. Medium-full in flavor; the Vegas Robaina is among the most complicated and hot Havanas around and ideal for any time after lunch and well in the day. Cuaba The shapes of Cuabas are all figurados: a mild-mannered smoke ideal for the novice as well as the connoisseur who feels just like throttling down a little flavor intensity.

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