Last year, the Obama administration further adjusted Cuba-specific restrictions on importing Cuban cigars for personal use.
“For personal use” is important because it means you can bring them back in your luggage from your trip to Cuba (or elsewhere), but it remains illegal to sell Cuban cigars in the U.S. The tax free limit is $800 and the number of cigars cannot exceed 100.
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$800/100 sticks will get you a long way towards stocking your humidor with some great Cubans.
Some were better than others this year, however, and we’re here to help you whittle down what is a terrific portfolio of Cuban cigars into a manageable list — one that will help you decide what’s worth bringing back from Cuba (and more importantly, what’s good value, too).
Here are the five best Cuban cigars for 2017, with one clear winner: the smaller-production Bolivar brand, which is, right now, producing Cuba’s best cigars.
Bolivar Coronas Gigantes
Simply put, this under-the-radar cigar blew us away. This 17.8cm, 47-ring-gauge smoke is effectively a churchill, and while it might seem like a powerhouse on first inspection, it’s terrifically balanced and never overpowering. With notes of cappuccino, cinnamon, leather, coffee and spice, it’s the best cigar we smoked all year.
Montecristo No. 2
Perhaps the most legendary (and one of the most widely sold) Cuban cigar, the Monte No. 2. continues to be a superb torpedo, with a flavorful but always consistent note and an elegant flavor and aroma.
Bolivar Belicoso Fino
While Bolivars are often wrongly described as very strong, the reality is that, while they’re flavorful, they’re never overpowering. And yes, the flavor is the story — the brand’s cigars are rich and brimming with flavors, from coffee to cacao to a range of spices. This torpedo is as good as it gets, with a smooth draw and tremendous balance.
Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2
It’s small, but it packs a punch. The Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 is a medium-bodied to full cigar that’s just five inches but with a 50 ring gauge, and the result is spectacular. It’s robust, with notes of leather, coffee and pepper, and a very good draw. A simply lovely cigar.
H. Upmann Magnum 50
Another venerable brand, H. Upmann has long produced some of Cuba’s finest cigars — but it has often proven inconsistent. That isn’t the case with the latest edition of the Magnum 50, a double-red-banded smoke with notes of wood and toast and a particularly lovely wrapper.