I wrote this blog on this Cuba cigar topic a few years ago for JamesSuckling.com and it still holds true. The bottom line is that Cuban cigars can be bought like fine wines, following the vintage or date on the bottle (wines) or box (cigars).
Of course, there is a big difference between wine and cigars. The date on a bottle of wine is when the grapes were harvested, while the date on a box of cigars is when the smokes were placed in the box. Cuban cigars are made from a blend of tobacco leaves from different harvests, or cosechas. It’s more like non-vintage Champagne or Cognac blends. (Forgive me if I am writing the obvious!)
Just check out the bottom of a box of Cuban cigars. There are three letters indicating the factory, and then below are three letters for the month and two for the year. (Check out photo of Montecristo Petit Edmundos box above.)
I believe that one can buy Cuban cigars according to the box date. So here is my cigar vintage chart in order of preference:
A word of caution. Don’t touch any cigars from the end of 1998 to 2001. Many of these cigars had construction problems as well as bad tobacco blending. A new generation of factory workers came on board at that time, and many didn’t know how to make cigars. Moreover, policies were initiated to make large quantities of cigars and the blends were not correct.
Luckily, the above is all in the past. I think that the current years of cigars are some of the best ever. Plantations are growing better tobacco. Factory workers have more experience, and quality control in general is much better.
– James Suckling, Publisher and Editor of HavanaInsider.com