Spero News

Obama enters Cuban cigar history
Friday, October 14, 2016
by Martin Barillas
Cigar aficionados and rum enthusiasts can soon look forward to the tangible results of President Barack Obama's diplomatic overtures to the Cuban dictatorship this year. After decades of an embargo, Cuban cigars and rum will soon become much more available to American citizens traveling to the communist island dictatorship.
The Obama administration will soon eliminate a $100 limit on the value of Cuban rum and cigars that American travelers can bring back home. 
The federal government will now subject Cuban rum and cigars to the same duties imposed on alcohol and tobacco from other countries, which means that travelers will be able to bring back as many as 100 cigars and several bottles of rum from each visit to Cuba. The best Cuban stogies go for more than $100 each, which means that travelers can contribute as much as $10,000 to the Cuban economy in cigar sales along. The previous limit imposed by U.S. Customs limited visitors to a combined value of $100 in rum and cigars.
The measure is contained among small-scale regulatory changes meant to ease U.S. trade with Cuba.
Here are some smokes from Cuba:
Partagas is a strong Cuban cigar, the most popular size of which is the Serie D, known for its earthy, piquant flavor. 
Cohiba is believed to be rolled specifically for dictator Fidel Castro. Favored by heads of state and diplomats, finished Cohiba cigars are aged and fermented to give its unmistakable grassy taste, mixed with hints of vanilla and cocoa and coffee. It is among the most expensive cigars in the world.
Registered by a German in 1840, Punch has pleasant, woody flavor, mixed with sweetness and a mild tobacco finish. Excellently balanced. 
A tribute to a romantic union, these cigars containe every flavor imaginable, ranging from floral tonutty, herbal to tangy, fruity and woody. 
Named for the hero of South American independence, and the namesake of Bolivarian government of socialist Venezuela, Bolivars are tangy, earth, and fruity all at once. They are strong medicine and not for children. Tyros are known for getting sick when they try their first Bolivar. Smoke it slowly. Let it go out. Think about it for a while. LIght it up again, and enjoy slowly. 
Montecristo is the best-selling cigar brand in the world, enjoyed by beginners and veterans alike. It blends pleasant, tangy and sweet flavors with hints of coffee, vanilla, and cocoa. 
Because H. Upmann cigars were his favorite, President John F. Kennedy sent press secretary Pierre Salinger to buy every box of them in Washington DC he could find: just before signing the embargo of 1962 that prohibited the smokes to everybody else. They are known to be mild and bland before aging. They are at their best with a decade or more of aging. 
Lovers of liberty, who do not wish to contribute to Cuba's economy but still like a good cigar and a shot of good rum, do have options. An excellent choice for rum drinkers is Guatemala's Zacapa Centenario Solera 23 rum, which is aged from six to 23 years in sherry casks. Cigar smokers have any number of choices. Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Brazil, and Mexico all have excellent cigars. From the Dominican Republic comes a Cohiba brand cigar, which has been rated very highly. As a result of the Cuban revolution, cigar brands were considered the property of the state. The owners of cigar factories expropriated by the communists disagreed, and took their brands with them and thus the phenomenon of competing cigars of the same name.

Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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