There is a certain mystique when it comes to the Cuban cigar and years ago, it was considered the best in the world due to Cuba being the quintessential pioneer in the industry.
Since 1962 with the Cuba sanctions and trade embargo, citizens of the United States are not allowed to buy or sell and up until recently, they were illegal to consume inside of the country. And until 2014, forget about trying to bring them into the U.S. if you were able to visit another country and buy Cuban cigars.
In other countries where they are easily attainable, they aren’t even at the top of the list as they are in the United States. The problem is that people want what they cannot have but fortunately there are excellent alternatives.
What Makes Cuban Cigars Great?
Cuba certainly crafts superior cigars for a number of reasons such as their rich tobacco growing soil. According to LiveScience:
Cuba has what some see as the perfect environment for growing cigar tobacco. The island’s soil allows the plants to produce very high quality leaves, said Alan Dye, a professor of economics at Columbia University who specializes in Cuban studies.
However, Cuban cigars are not perfect and often have issues with quality control. This is due to the demand of the market which sometimes means that they are not aged properly, there are issues with the rolling, and overall craftsmanship problems.
In fact, The Washington Post notes that only 3 of the top 25 cigars in the world, as ranked by Cigar Aficionado, were Cubans.
What About Cuban Cigar Alternatives?
There are cigars that have tobacco from other countries that rival Cuba and one of those places is Nicaragua. As told by Cigar Aficionado:
They’re only two countries in the world where you can make cigars entirely from their tobacco, and it’s not Mexico. It’s Cuba and Nicaragua. Both of those countries have the most fertile dirt in the world for tobacco.
Another reason that cigars from Nicaragua are superior tasting is that the soil is not just fertile but it is a volcanic soil that is full of nutrients. The weather conditions there are ideal as well, so you get an alternative that is full of flavor and is considered some of the best tobacco in the world. In fact, the climate is similar to Cuba but it’s the natural resources that are unique to each region and that is in the soil and minerals.
There are four areas of Nicaragua that are distinct for their aromatic and flavorful tobacco: Jalapa, Ometepe, Esteli, and Condega.
For example, the Esteli region renders a spicier flavor while the Condega valley area lends a more sweet and potent flavor. Each region will have a variation in earthiness, taste, and aromatics but they are some of the most consistent, flavorful cigars that the market has ever seen
The Dominican Republic and Honduras are other areas where the cigars are considered similar to the body of Cuban cigars.
The Choice is Simple
Along with flavors and aromatics that challenge the Cuban cigar empire, the alternatives out of these areas are sometimes a third or half of the price of what you would pay.
While each cigar will have its own distinct flavor, whether it’s from Cuba or another area like Nicaragua, the flavor of a Cuban alternative is often considered superior.