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Cigars/Cohiba authenticity


Cohiba 2
Cohiba 2  
Cohiba 1
Cohiba 1  
QUESTION: I had a friend of mine bring me back Cuban cigars from Columbia. The packaging is strange because it doesn't have the new style labbeling system where it says, Republicana de Cuba. Check the pictures out and let me know what you think. Please get back to me ASAP.

ANSWER: Hi Russ,

I've examined all your photos and the packaging does appear authentic.  The chevron sticker is pre-2005 and matches the older warranty label that is also on the box (the older label was discontinued in 2009).  If one was newer than the other, I would be suspicious.  If you shine a black light on the green warranty label, it will reveal a hidden UV image (coat of arms) if the label is genuine.

Although the packaging appears genuine, I can't confirm the authenticity of the cigars themselves as one of the more popular techniques among counterfeiters is to use genuine packaging and bands on counterfeit cigars.  The bands and packaging are usually either collected from cigar stores (after customers have discarded them) or stolen straight from the cigar factories (As a momento, I actually have a sheet of genuine labels given to me by someone selling counterfeit cigars in Cuba.).  By recycling genuine packaging and bands, counterfeiters save money on producing fake packaging and potential customers are more likely to buy the cigars because they appear real.

Normally the best method to determine cigar authenticity is to check the retailer name with Habanos or their official distributor to see if the store is officially supplied by them but because Habanos does not have an official distributor for Columbia (according to their website but I'm not sure how updated it is), I can't provide any distributor info for you.  What you can try is to contact Habanos directly and they maybe be able to help you.  You can reach them through their official website at  

Considering the packaging and band design is the newer Cohiba design, your box of cigars would have been made some time between 2003 and 2004 if they're genuine.  In 2003, Cohiba began using the new gold foil embossed cigar bands and in 2004, that particular chevron sticker was discontinued and replaced with the newer chevron label with the fine print.

I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, please feel free to just ask and I will be happy to help.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thank you very much for your detailed explanation and such a quick response back. I guess I'll have to see for my self if the cigar is authentic or not. Can you explain to me what I should look for in the cigar when I smoke it? I also have a Siglo III, can you tell me what I should look for in that cigar as well.

Thank you,


Hi Russ,

All Cuban Cohiba cigars are mild-to-medium in strength but full bodied in flavour.  Like a typical Cuban cigar, the flavour is rich, heavy and earthy.  It will taste much different than a non-Cuban cigar which are usually peppery, nutty or vegetal in flavour.  The aroma of a lit Cohiba cigar is leathery and a bit earthy like softly roasted coffee.  Cohiba cigars use tobacco that is triple-fermented so the smoke will be extremely smooth on your lips.

When smoking the cigar, the colour of the ash should be gray to dark gray in colour but can also be bluish gray.  If the ash is light/pale gray or whitish-gray, it's an indication that the tobacco was grown in magnesium-rich soil.  The soil in Cuba is not rich in magnesium (compared to other countries) so the cigar ash is usually darker than non-Cuban cigar ash.

The ash should also solid and firm with no holes, gaps or cracks.  It should keep it's shape for more than an inch before falling off on its own.  If the ash is flaky, crumbly or powdery and easily breaks off into small pieces, it is an indication that the cigar contains short-filler tobacco and that the cigar is counterfeit.  All premium Cuban cigars are made with long-filler tobacco and counterfeit cigars usually contain short-filler tobacco which is usually inexpensive, low grade tobacco or table scrap tobacco from cigar factories.

I hope this helps! As always, if you have any more questions, please feel free to just ask and I will be happy to help.



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James Yee


My main area of expertise is Cuban cigars and I can assist you if you have questions pertaining to Cuban cigars. I can also assist you with the following:

- General cigar-related questions and advice
- Humidor maintenance and troubleshooting (How to treat humidor mold, correct high/low humidity, humidor seasoning, etc.)
- Accessory maintenance and troubleshooting (Cigar cutters, hygrometers, humidifiers, etc.)
- Cigar restoration, preservation and troubleshooting (How to treat cigar mold/tobacco beetles, restoring vintage/dry cigars, etc.)
- Cigar/Brand identification
- Cigar etiquette

Unsure of a certain cigar brand? Wondering what a certain cigar tastes like? Have a question about Cuban cigars? Having problems with a humidor or Just let me know! I have smoked every brand of Cuban cigars and most reputable non-Cuban cigar brands on a regular basis so I know a fair bit about taste profiles, cigar etiquette and other fine nuances to cigar smoking. (NOTE: My main focus is on premium, hand-rolled cigars and not cheap, machine made, convenience store cigars.) IMPORTANT: PLEASE NOTE THAT I DO NOT PROVIDE CIGAR OR CIGAR-RELATED APPRAISALS. If you have a vintage cigar item and you want to know if it's worth something, please contact an antique dealer that specializes in "TOBACCIANA".


I currently have 19 dedicated years of cigar smoking and counting. I have smoked every brand of Cuban cigars and most reputable non-Cuban cigar brands on a regular basis so I know a fair bit about taste profiles, cigar etiquette and other fine nuances to cigar smoking. For 5 years, I studied with Cuban torcedores (rollers), catadores (taste testers) and revisadores (inspectors) on every aspect involving the production of the Cuban cigar and I am currently writing a book that will help beginners understand everything they need to know about cigars and cigar smoking.

Maple Leaf Gardens: Memories & Dreams 1931-1999 (1999; ISBN: 0920445616)
50 Things Every Guy Should Know How To Do (2006; ISBN: 0452286654)
The [London] Times (October 8, 2009)

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