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Cuban Cigars

How to Spot a Fake Cuban Romeo y Julieta Cigar

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

We’ve previously discussed how to spot fake Cuban cigars. We’ve pointed out that even if a cigar has a perfect cigar band on it, the cigar itself might still be counterfeit. Still, the band is a good place to start, especially in the case of the iconic Cuban Romeo y Julieta cigar.

THE ORNATE BAND

The primary Romeo y Julieta cigar band is the same on all its cigars. It’s glossy red with white letters and very intricate gold borders. There are also gold coins on the band. Beyond that, some Romeo y Julieta cigars have secondary bands that tell you the size of the cigar.

CHURCHILLS

The three cigars that Romeo y Julieta calls Churchills all have a thinner gold band with black letters under the primary one. Of course, the iconic Romeo y Julieta Churchill has its distinctive ring that says “CHURCHILLS” in all caps. “CUBA” is to the left and “HABANA” to the right. The other Churchill bands are similar, but say “WIDE CHURCHILLS,” “PETIT CHURCHILLS,” and “SHORT CHURCHILLS,” essentially rendering the word Churchill meaningless as a designation of size and shape.

OTHERS

The Romeo y Julieta Cedros de Luxe No. 1, a Lonsdale, and the brand’s other cedar-sleeved cigars, carries the band on the cedar sleeve that holds the cigar. The cigar itself has no band on it.

Limited Edition Romeo y Julieta cigars carry similar secondary gold bands as the standard issue cigars, but with the year of the release on the lower half of the band, below the words “Edición Limitada.”

GOLD LINES

There’s a lot of gold on the band. The periphery of the band has a ridged gold border. Pay attention to the gold beads on this border. They should be consistent with an equal amount of space between each embossed bead. Gold lines run the length of the band inside the ridged border. If they don’t go all the way, the band is likely fake.

COINS

The band has three gold coins on either side of the center where the name Romeo y Julieta appears. The coins should be raised and have a lot of detail in them. If the coins are flat and the images in them kind of blurred, you have a counterfeit.

LETTERING

The bands used to have the makers’ names on them. No more. Now, in white letters, it’s just “Romeo y Julieta” at the top of the oval, “Habana Cuba” with a small gold dot separating the two words and in the middle, “Desde 1875” (Since 1875).

FLAVOR

The classic flavor of, say, the Romeo y Julieta Churchill is solidly medium-bodied. I always get a lot of caramel and some graham cracker, followed by some clear saltiness. The finish is generally smooth and there’s a certain creaminess. Almost every one of these that I’ve smoked, however, has had a tight draw.

WEIGHT

Clearly, the thinner or smaller the cigar, the less it will weigh, but my experience with most fakes is that they’re much lighter than the real deal because there’s noticeably less tobacco in them. So, get a sense of what a real Cuban Romeo y Julieta weighs and measure others against that.

WHAT’S INSIDE

The wrapper of a Romeo y Julieta is a bit more of an orange-brown than most Cubans, though the Churchill can be a bit lighter. As we’ve discussed before, you can take the cigar apart and if you find the wrapper and binder to be very thin, you likely have a fake. The filler is where you can really make a determination. It should be all long leaves. If anything short or chopped falls out, you’ve got a counterfeit on your hands.

IT AIN’T CHEAP

I can’t say this often enough. If you think the price of Romeo y Julieta Cuban cigars is too good to be true, you are buying fakes. A Churchill in London runs more than $35 for each cigar. In Cuba, they run around $12.00. So, if you got a guy outside your Havana hotel whispering a lower price to you, ignore him. You don’t need to take a chance. And please don’t buy Cuban cigars in, say, the Dominican Republic (DR), unless you do so from a clearly reputable store. The DR is one of the places that makes a lot of counterfeit Cubans.

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