Traveling To Cuba Since The Embargo Has Been Lifted

For years, visiting Cuba was not an option for Americans due to the embargo. In the 1960’s, Cuba did not compensate America for nationalizing their oil refineries. This created a severe trade embargo. Since it has been lifted, travel to Cuba has become a possibility and people are taking advantage of being able to travel someplace new. While travel to Cuba is possible now, it is important that you understand what is expected of you and what you should expect. Traveling to Cuba is not the same as traveling to the rest of the world.

Official Travel Paperwork
When you fly anywhere out of the country, you need to have your passport and it is stamped. This is not the case when you are traveling to this island country. You would need to purchase a 30 day Cuban Tourist Visa. They are sold at the airport and they cost just $20. It is a separate card and it is not attached to your passport.

Select Airlines
There are only a few select airlines who fly to the island. These include AeroMexico, Cubana, Copa, and Air Canada. Recently, the US Government has started allowing American Airlines to fly there, however, there are only a few flights out of Miami. Eventually, more flights will be added.

Travel Insurance
If you are planning to travel to the largest island in the Caribbean, you are required to purchase travel medical insurance. If you don’t have insurance, you would be required to purchase a special Cuban travel package for about $10 per day.

The Cuban Money Exchange
Debit and credit cards that are issued by United States banks will not work when you travel to the island. If you are planning a trip there, you should bring lots of cash. You would need to have between $50 and $100 U.S. dollars for each day that you are there if you want to be comfortable. There are two different currencies. The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is the currency given to tourists. It has the same cash value as the U.S. dollar. The Cuban Peso (CUP) however, is used by the locals and is worth much less than the U.S. dollar.

Transportation On the Island
Transportation can be a bit tricky. They have a government bus that is specifically for tourists. It is called Viazul and it goes around much of the country. The tickets are not too expensive, however, the bus fills up quickly. You would need to buy your tickets at least a day in advance. If you want to rent a car, that can be even more tricky. There aren’t many, so you would need to book the car a few weeks in advance. You would need to call directly because you cannot book online. Also, it is not cheap. It will cost you between $70 and $90 USD each day for the car. Also, you would need to put a $200 deposit down. Finally, you can take a vintage taxi. These are vintage cars driven by locals. Unfortunately, this is a very expensive way to travel. For a short ride in town, it will cost you $8 to $10. If you are taking a long trip, it can cost between $60 to $70. To take a taxi for the day, you should expect to pay $120 for the day.

Cuban Internet
This area is not very connected. If you want to use WiFi there, you would need to purchase a prepaid WiFi card. It will cost you between $2 to $3 for every hour of service. You can use the username and password on the scratch off card that you would get from a kiosk. You can then find networks in major hotels and in public parks. You may also be able to purchase cards from locals in the park and at your hotel’s front desk. You will, however, end up paying more. You should understand that the government does censor some sites, such as anti-government blogs and Snapchat. The internet is not very fast, but it will work.

Bringing Back Cigars
If you are traveling to Cuba for certain reasons, you can bring home $400 worth of souvenirs. This does include cigars. If you buy Cuban cigars in Mexico or any other country, however, it is still illegal.

Since the trade embargo has been lifted, travel to Cuba is possible. Pretty soon, Americans will be able to buy real estate, shop, and do everything that citizens from other countries can do. It’s an exciting time!

Just be sure that you know what to expect when you get there.

Best Countries For Cigar Tastings

To the true cigar aficionado, a cigar is not just something you unwrap, cut, light up and inhale just for fun. Cigar-making is an art form, perfected over years and years of toiling under the sun to coax the soil to nourish the seeds and create… well, a work of art.

Ask any self-respecting torcedor (the guy/gal who rolls those glorious sticks) and you’ll find that to know cigars, you have to get out of your comfort zone. We’re talking travel here and it’s time to pack your bags. Here are 3 cigar countries that should definitely be in your itinerary:

Dominican Republic

Geographically diverse and stunningly lovely, the Dominican Republic has produced some of the world’s most beautiful and best-tasting cigars. It is economically stable and people are known for their openness, so you will feel right at home. The most famous premium cigars are produced here, making it the country to beat when it comes to tobacco growing and cigar production.

The best Dominican tobaccos are produced in two valleys: the Real (Spanish for royal) and the Cibao. Long-leaf, rich and luxurious tobacco fillers are rolled here, producing cigars from Olor Dominicano and Piloto Cubano. The latter is Cuban tobacco seed but the type and quality of the soil in the Dominican Republic has nurtured leaves to produce that distinct, unique taste that – while not as strong as Cuba’s – is full-bodied and satisfying.


Nicaragua was not always the place to be if you wanted a fulfilling smoke, but with its rich, nutritious volcanic soil it was only a matter of time before the country began producing cigars that could rival some of the world’s best. The Cuban Revolution brought some of the established cigar-growing families to Nicaragua’s Jalapa Valley, with many building facilities in Esteli. What happened after is probably something we ought to thank the revolution for.

Even with Cuban seeds, the tobacco leaves produced in Nicaragua developed a spicy taste, thanks to the unique characteristics of its soil and climate. Although Cuban cigars will probably remain the standard upon which other cigars will be judged, we have much to thank Nicaragua for producing tobacco that is taking our palate to an expanded universe, the kind that is built on unexplored flavor profiles and intensities.


Cuban cigars are revered, loved and sought-after. Others may even call them the archetype, although cigars may not have originated from this island country. Regardless, in a list of cigar countries, this is the place you want to be in if you only had one plane ticket to book. Tobacco is so important to Cuba that their histories are entwined, which is probably why Cuban cigars are held with such regard.

Cuba’s humid climate, along with its rich soil helps produce the large, luscious leaves ideal for those longed-for stogies. Cuban torcedors have been rolling cigars for so long that they have attained the perfect rhythm for planting and harvesting – critical for obtaining the best leaves. Although Cuba is the largest Caribbean island, soil found in the western region is considered the best for growing tobacco. The soil, along with the microclimate enjoyed in that area contribute to that distinctly rich, supple, flavorful Cuban taste – so good that some people would even break the law just to smuggle them into the country.

With cigars, you never really know until you’ve been there. Expand your horizon and go on a trip to experience first hand how these stogies are made. Who knows the kind of surprises you might just be glad to discover along the way?

To Learn More about Michael Asimos
Check out this Interview from Inspirery


Partagas Cigars Rated As Second To None, Top Quality Smokes

When it comes to the famed Partagas cigars, the view fans online is nothing beats these top quality smokes. In fact, there is a wide variety of “Partagas Naturales” featured online at top cigar selling websites. There are also great special deals and special discounts when purchasing a box of these natural cigars with exquisite wrapper leaves grown in the Central West African country of Cameroon.

Another aspect of Partagas is linked to rich smoking flavor that cigar smokers say is “never harsh,” but always flavorful and easy to enjoy. Thanks to Cameroon’s sub-tropical climate these cigars are equal to its Cuban counterparts, but at nearly have the price. The famed Partagas brand became trendy back before America normalized relations with Cuba when this superb brand became popular with cigar smokers.

Partagas offers natural smoking pleasure

The great thing about enjoy the Partagas line of cigars is great value at fair pricing for the best high-quality smoke on the market today. The brand is considered “natural” and a great value when compared to other top-quality smokes that sell for double or triple what a Partagas Robusto or Extra Oscuro costs.

The line of Partagas cigars includes:

– Naturales Cameroon Rubosto
– Classico Robusto
– 1845 Rubusto Habano
– 1845 Extra Oscuro Rubsto Gordo Oscuro
– Sabrosos Cameroon Corona
– 1845 Double Corona Habano
– Black Label Gigante Sun Grown Gordo
– Black Label Maximo Toro
– Black Label Magnifico Sun Grown Toro
– Naturales Cameroon Robusto
– No. 1 Cameroon Lonsdale
– No. 2 Cameroon Corona
– Fabulosos Cameroon Churchill
– 1845 Gigante Habano
– 1845 Extra Oscuro Gigante Oscuro
– 1845 Extrra Oscuro Supremo Oscuro Gordo
– Black Label Classico Sun Grown Robusto
– Black Label Bravo Sun Grown Rothschild

In general, there are many top Partagas brands now on offer at leading cigar websites. The cigars are featured at huge discounts when purchasing either an individual cigar or a box. Meanwhile, the Partagas “cigar profile” points to a smoke that never lets cigar fans down. The brand is said to be equal or even “much better” and even more flavorful than its Cuban counterparts.

Top cigars with full-flavor

There are many ways and means to identify the famed “Partagas” cigar brand, say longtime smokers commenting online. They say that the cigars feature a nice dark color with natural leaves that always deliver “extra rich flavor.” The wrappers tend to be heavier and richer than other leading cigar brands because each cigar is made from selected leaves that are harvested after proper aging. This translates to a top smoke with full-bodied flavor that cigar fans say has “real character” and unbeatable rich smoking enjoyment that is a trade-mark of this top brand of many top-shelf cigars now featured online. The brand has been credited as the most affordable and enjoyable of all natural sun grown smokes available today.

Overall, there has never been a better time to save big on the full line of Partagas, say longtime cigar smoking fans commenting online.

Escurio Cigar Review

Davidoff is a Swiss cigar-maker, and the Escurio line of cigars is the company’s Brazil-inspired cigars. Escurio is apparently an extension of the company’s Black Label line, which also includes Davidoff Nicaragua. The cigar has its origin in or is made manually in the Cigar Davidoff factory, based in Santiago. The Escurio cigar was initially rolled out for sale in Santiago, Dominican Republic in 2015. Thereafter, the cigar line adorned stores in America, Europe and Asia as well.

Escurio Review by Michael Asimos


The cigar comes in three distinct sizes – none being more than six inches in length. The Petit Robusto (Short Robusto) is 3 ¼ inches long; Robusto Tubo measures 4 ½ inches; and Gran Toro extends a bit further, measuring at 5 ½ inches. The Gran Toro and Robusto Tubo come as 12 count boxes. 14 count boxes are allotted for the Short Coronas. Also, every size has four cigar packs.

Ingredients and Taste

At the core, the cigar is not completely Brazilian. It’s basically a blend that comprises good amount of native Brazilian flavors. An oil and dark seed Haban Ecuador wrapper is used to camouflage an extremely zesty Brazilian Cubra (the binder) that comprises Cubra and Mata Fina tobaccos from Brazil – in combination with Piloto, Olor and San Vicente tobaccos from Dominican Republic.

This luxury blend burns slowly and is extremely aromatic. The wrapper supposedly provides an earthy balance and soft creaminess to the cigar profile. The filler and binder marginally contribute to the blend’s spiciness. The Mata Fina adds to the cigar’s sweetness, while the tobaccos lend a level of “Davidoff” sophistication to the cigar.

Experience and Positives

Upon lighting the cigar, we experienced an earthy spice encompassing our palate, which however faded fairly quickly, but only to leave behind a licorice-like component. After some time, the licorice profile fades as well, only to add some cinnamon taste to the mix.

Primarily, there are two extremely impressive attributes of this cigar. First is the level of smoke produced by the cigar – even the shortest Petit Robusto is capable of giving a steam engine a tough fight. What is so great about the smoke? Unfortunately, this is an aspect that only people who’ve smoked cigars before can relate to and appreciate. Second positive feature, which is quite surprising, is how long the cigar lasts. Even the smallest variant can sustain pace close to an hour, giving more value for the money spent. Also, during use, the cigar stays fairly cool. The burn was almost perfect too.


At the end of this Escurio cigar review, we must say Davidoff has built a reputation of sorts with its cigars, and the Davidoff Escurio keeps the name intact. In short, the cigar is perfect, and the size variations are much appreciated.

The Best Non-Cuban Cigars by Michael W. Asimos

Cuban cigars are great.  They’ve got the mystique, they’ve got the flavor, and they’ve got the taboo of being not-quite-legal.  That doesn’t always mean they’re the only type of cigars worth smoking, though.  There are some fantastic non-Cubans out there, and you’re definitely shorting yourself if you don’t give them a try.  Here are five of the best non Cuban cigars on the planet, for your enjoyment:

cs-pl6.jpgPadilla Miami 8&11 Torpedo

This cigar takes everything you love about Cubans, but puts a domestic twist on the production.  This is a typically Miami cigar, with all the Cuban-emigre style rolling you’d come to expect.  The taste is fantastic, the construction’s tight and you’ll name this one among your favorites as soon as you smoke it.

Ilusione Ultra Op. No. 9

This Nicaraguan brand is big, dark and imposing.  It’s the kind of cigar that sticks around with you, and it’s definitely up there when it comes to quality.  Some of the best cigars in the world are as much about the smoking experience as they are about the taste, and the Ilusione Ultra is definitely one of the best in the world.

Cao Flathead V660

Yes, a premium flathead.  Another great North American blend, this hotrod is all about having a good time.  It’s packaged like a novelty cigar, but don’t be fooled – this blend really is for true aficionados.  This is precisely the kind of cigar you’re not going to get from a Cuban blend, and it should be celebrated by willing to go off the usual script.  If you’re looking for flavors that are going to challenge your palate, this is the cigar for you.

My Father Le Bijou 1922cs-mfc.jpg

This one’s a contender for the best of the best, and its’ from Nicaragua.  If there’s such thing as a professional’s cigar, this is the brand that can claim that distinction.  With a rich, almost chocolaty smoke and a sweet aftertaste, and My Father Le Bijou 1922 is the kind of cigar that most people dream about smoking.

The Edge Habano

There’s nothing fancy about this cigar.  It doesn’t come in a pretty box.  It doesn’t even have a wrapper.  What it does have, however, is fantastic tobacco.  If you’re looking for a pure smoking experience, you’ll turn to this Nicaraguan blend every time.

Dunhill Robusto Heritage

If you’re looking for a cigar that’s got taste, class, and a good bit of staying power, this is the brand for you.  It features wrappings, bindings, and tobacco from across Central America and to create a unique experience.  This is one cigar that proves that you don’t have to go to Cuba to get quality.

Honduras: A History Of High Quality Cigars

While Cuba and the Dominican Republic might hog the spotlight when it comes to making the best cigars, but the Central American nation of Honduras has more than held their own when it comes to producing high quality cigars of note. While they have experienced a turbulent history, the blend of famed tobaccos that came from Cuba shortly after Castro’s revolution, mixed with the naturally fertile environments and many unique ecosystems of the Honduran countryside to create some of the best and most popular flavors in the world.

Roots From Cubahonduras
Honduras has grown tobacco since they were a Spanish colony, and the many unique ecosystems found throughout the nation offered farmers some interesting possibilities. Although Honduras has always had the ability to produce fine cigars, a mass emigration of tobacco farmers (and their plants) from Cuba in the 1950s created even more opportunity for fine cigar blends that caught worldwide attention.

Uniquely Situated For Tobacco Growth
One of the strange things about Honduras is that there are many regions that are very unique. Some areas have volcanic soil, others are tropical, others are sub-tropical. With so many different soil types, the different flavors and fragrances of tobacco that could be grown have led to Honduran blends in particular being among some of the favorites world wide among blend cigar connoisseurs.

Famous Regions
While it’s hard to travel to any part of Honduras that doesn’t grow fine tobacco, there are a few regions in particular that are famous for the cigar tobacco they produce. The Copan region to the west are some of the oldest fields in the nation, producing since early colonial times.

The Danli in El Paraiso is one of the heavyweight areas for producing fine tobacco, and is arguably the tobacco capital of the nation – which is really saying something! The Jamastran Valley in the southern valleys of the nation might be the southern capital for tobacco production, and certainly put out some major names in cigars.

Plagues & Hurricanes
However, not everything has been peaches and cream in the cigar making history. 1985 saw a plague of blue mold that annihilated large portions of the tobacco crops throughout many regions and created damage on a level that took half a decade to bounce back from.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Hurricane Mitch slammed into the nation in 1998 and destroyed not only many of the crops, but the buildings, plants, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure were all destroyed, which played a part in the Dominican Republic becoming so widely known and dominant.

Recovery has taken time, but the tobacco was always too good for Honduras to not make a comeback in the modern cigar market.

All You Need To Know About Cigars

How To Experience The Most Out of A Cigar

Getting to know cigars means experiencing a great cigar. Three types of tobacco leaves are used; smaller leaves are only used as a filler, whereas the whole leaf is used as a wrapper, which is known as a binder.

How To Store Cigars

The age of a cigar changes its flavor, but its a personal preference. You can buy aged cigars, but they are expensive, so you can age them yourself. Store them in the ideal environment which controls both humidity and temperature–the ideal being the 70-70 rule. Beyond that, cigars may get moldy. However, be sure to maintain an environment that’s stable and never fluctuating, otherwise that can lead to expansion and contraction, which would crack the wrappers. If you’ve ever experienced a cigar flaking on you during smoking, that cigar was probably not aged properly.  Check out our post on Cigar Aging 101 for more information.  Choose a humidor lined with cedar and never overcrowd it with too many cigars.

How Cigars are Made

Cigars are made differently, depending on the maker. Cuban cigars are the most famous. These are made by hand, whereas other famous and top-notch cigars are made using machines. They come in different shapes and sizes, and some are open ended, while most are round headed and have parallel sides.


An example of a well constructed cigar that lends to a slow, even burn.

Other materials used in making cigars include flavoring agents, tasteless gum used to adhere the wrapper together at the end, and a paper band around its circumference.

Many already know that Cuban cigars are rolled by hand, but most others around the world are rolled using machines, except for the finest ones, which continue to be made entirely by hand. The outer part of the cigar is wrapped by a large textured leaf that has to be in impeccable condition, whereas the inner wrapper, or binder, can be of lesser quality and imperfect.

Which Cigars Burn Slowest

Cuban cigars burn the slowest, and are considered to be the finest in the world for this and many other reasons, although numerous others rank high, as well.  Hand rolled cigars tend to burn the slowest as well.  It’s worth mentioning that the quality of the tobacco and the climate in which it is made and stored lends to the evenness of it burning.

Cigar Aging 101

How Cigars Age Over Time

Cigars change over time since they are made from plant material; however, not all changes improve the quality of the leaf. The majority of cigars are ready for consumption by the time they reach the retailers. Variants from countries like Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic typically reach stores in prime smoking condition. Top producers ferment, bale and age the leaves for a period ranging between two to three years. They are then rolled and placed in aging rooms for periods of up to three months before shipping. The cigars continue to morph and evolve gradually until they are smoked. The micro-fermentation that occurs during this period eliminates some by-products of the initial fermentation carried out at the factory. To age them further at home, it is necessary to keep the cigars in boxes.

Why Should I Store My Cigars In A Humidor?

Ammonia and other compounds have the capacity to make the flavor of tobacco unpleasant. The reduction of these chemicals through longer periods of aging ensures that they are mellow. As the cigars spend longer time in humidors, moisture and oleoresins is distributed more evenly across the leaves. The ‘marrying’ process allows the cigar to burn evenly and undergo subtle changes to the flavor. Mellowing and blending of flavor over very long periods tends to make it less distinct and harder to detect.

This makes the flavor smoother and eliminates the ‘off’ taste. The changes provide the essence of complexity to a product, which refers to the appearance of a blend of varied favors and layers. The Dutch Masters are arguably the slowest burning cigars on the market with a complex cigar production process. They come with a distinctive, mild aroma and smooth flavor. The products are machine-made and their leaves are imported from Puerto Rico. They are combined with Caribbean Basin Cuban seed. The slow burning Dutch Masters cigars are available in three variants, including palmas, coronas and cigarillos.

How a Cigar is made

A Peak Into The Beginning of a Cigar

A quality cigar starts with the finest tobacco leaves. Without this important component, the final product is at best, an ordinary cigar. To understand what makes a good tasting, smooth burning cigar, it helps to know how a cigar is made.  For a good intro to cigars, be sure to familiarize yourself with my Cigar’s 101 guide!

The Cigar Essentials

There are essentially three components to a cigar, the filler, the binder, and the wrapper. The filler is made by using three to six tobacco leaves and bunching them together. A person known as a buncher wraps the leaves tightly together, making sure the leaves are formed evenly in width and length. The buncher also checks for overly dry or extremely wet portions of the leaves, and removes them accordingly. The bunching process ensures the inner core of the cigar is tight, so it burns hotter than the other parts.

Cigar Bindingcigarrolling

The next step in cigar making is the binding process. In the binding process, one sturdy, thick tobacco leaf is used to wrap around the core. The single leaf is rolled uniformly, until the end of the leaf is rolled around the core completely. At this point, the cigar must be shaped, to ensure all cigars in a box look uniform in length and width, to satisfy the end consumer. The ends are cut off, to give the cigar a better shape.

The next step is putting the cigar in a press. Usually, 10 cigars go into a mold. They are then placed in a press for about 30 minutes, to ensure it stays tightly packed. When the cigar is done in the press, it is ready for the wrapping process.

The Final Touch – The Wrapper

Wrapping a cigar requires using on the best leaves. A leaf must be smooth, stretchy, and evenly colored, to use as a wrapper. The person wrapping the cigar with begin at one end and roll at an angle. When the wrapping is done, one end of the cigar is capped with a pectin adhesive. The other end is cut to size. Each cigar is inspected, then aged for at least a month, to remove any excess moisture before packaging.

Do you have a favorite wrapper? My personal favorite is Connecticut Shade. It’s mild, yet bold at the same time and burns evenly.  Read more about Connecticut Shade here.

An Introduction to Cigars of the World

A Closer Look at Cigars, by Michael W. Asimos

To the uninitiated, finding the right cigar can be intimidating. Understanding the regional differences between cigars can help you find the perfect one to suit your tastes. No two are alike, and can differ in wrappers, fillers, and even in the way it was rolled. While Cuban cigars are certainly the most famous, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you ignored the countless offerings of countries like Honduras, Nicaragua, Brazil, Peru, the Philippines, and even the United States.


Strong, well-defined flavors are the hallmark of a Honduran cigar, but they may not be great for a first cigar. Cigarette smokers, however, may find the full-bodied tastes and earthy tones to be like a familiar friend. Cigars from this region may range in price from 4 dollars to 26 dollars, making it affordable to the beginner smoker.


The extremely fertile soil of Nicaragua has allowed it to produce some of the finest tobacco in the world, as well as some interesting flavors. Many experienced cigar smokers have compared the taste of Nicaraguan tobacco to its Cuban cousin, and with the current embargo on Cuba still in effect for the United States, American smokers can get almost the same experience without having to delve into the black market. Amateur cigar enthusiasts will benefit from their low price points.


While Brazilian made cigars are a rare sight in many US shops, their tobacco is another story. When used as wrappers they give the cigar a sweeter taste and darker color, and when used as filler it gives off a great aroma. Many cigars using blended tobacco leave have some Brazilian tobacco mixed in, but finding one straight from the source can be more difficult, and their prices reflect that.

The Philippines

Cigarettes tend to be the number one choice for smokers in the Philippines, but there is still a strong cigar market. Their tobaccos tend to be smooth and full flavored, with a spicy aftertaste from the wrapper. Filipino tobacco burns very consistently, leaving a white ash that will stay in the shape of the cigar. Prices are relatively low, especially when bought by the box.

United States

When people picture cigars they tend to think of Cuba. However, look a bit closer to home and you will find a wide variety of aromas and tastes made right here in the US. Some of the best tobacco in the world is grown in places like Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, and Louisiana. Of course, cigars made here are most often not handmade, such as Swisher Sweets, but there is still a growing community of hand-rollers in Miami, Florida.

Finding the right cigar for the beginning smoker is an overwhelming process, but do not let it discourage you. Simply keep in mind what sorts of flavors and aromas you want to get from a cigar and compare those to the huge variety of tobaccos from around the globe. You do not need to resort to the black market to get what is considered a great cigar. Many fine cigars can be bought from the comfort of your own home.  Check out Cigars International, here.

What do you think? Please leave me a comment below, or contact me.