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How to Spot Fake Cuban Cigars

We hope this blog will help you how to spot fake Cuban cigars from the real thing.

Bolivar Royal Corona Vintage 2001

Check the Packaging

Get to know how Cuban cigars are packaged, and you greatly reduce the chances of being ripped off.

For example, the popular Cuban brands like Cohiba, Partagas, Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey, Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo etc., all feature the Habanos S.A. seal on the top right-hand corner of the box. You also want to make sure the box has the Cuban warranty seal on the left side of the box. They look a little like paper money and are printed in different colours.

You might be thinking that just about anything printed on paper can be reproduced, and with today’s technology, it takes a well-trained eye to tell the difference. To help prevent this, in 2010 Habanos S.A. designed a new seal using watermarks, a super-strong adhesive, a hologram on the right side of the seal, and a barcode on the left.

Look for the Cuban seal of authenticity to help you avoid fake Cuban cigars.

If the hustlers are going through the trouble of counterfeiting the seals, you can bet the bands have also been faked. Though many fake Cuban cigar bands may look authentic – and in some rare cases are – it’s not unusual to find bands with spelling errors, poor alignment, the wrong colour and/or typeface, missing embossing, and in the case of Cohiba cigars, the wrong size or number of white squares on the band.

The band is often the first place your eyes will go, so the more familiar you are with the genuine bands and their specific attributes, the sooner you’ll know how to spot fake Cuban cigars.

Now, about that box of fake Fuentes. It had a glass top that slid in and out of the box. Fake Cohibas are often presented this way, too.

The fact is, the Cuban cigar industry doesn’t make any cigar boxes with glass or even clear plastic tops. If someone tries to sell you a box of Cubans with a glass top, that alone should tell you to walk away.

One of the most important areas of the box to check is its bottom. A genuine box of Cuban cigars should have all of the following attributes:

  • The words “Habanos S.A., Hecho En Cuba”. If they are made by hand it will also say “Totalmente a Mano” (“made totally by hand”) rather than the more familiar “Hecho a Mano” as found on premium cigars handmade outside of Cuba.
  • A code for the factory where the cigars were made.
  • A date stamp that shows when the cigars were packaged.


If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You should get to know the relative prices on the top Cuban brands, especially the ones that are most often counterfeited like Cohiba Edición Limitadas, Montecristo No.2s, Partagas Serie D No.4s, etc. If someone tries to sell you a $350 (£250) box of Cubans for $50 (£35) or even $100 (£71), chances are they’re not the genuine article.


Unless you’ve smoked a good number of genuine Cuban cigars, it’s easy to be fooled. This may present quite a dilemma, so what can you do? There are certain attributes about Cuban cigars that differentiate them from non-Cubans.

First, the feel and look of the cigar. Cuban wrappers tend to be naturally oily, have a smooth, buttery appearance, a uniform shade of brown that’s unique to Cuban Corojo wrapper leaf, and except for figurados like Pyramids and Torpedoes, the caps are not as round on top. Cuban cigars consistently produce grey ashes.

A lot of Cigars made outside of Cuba have similar attributes, but if the wrapper doesn’t have that soft oily brown patina, the head is round, and the ash burns white, the tobacco is not of Cuban origin.

Suffice it to say: Caveat emptor!

Check out our range of cigars at The Cigar Holder Shop supplied by Hunters & Frankau, the Exclusive UK Distributor for all Havana cigars (Habanos) as appointed by Habanos S.A.

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