Rolled Gold
Maxim Australia|May 2017

From Fidel Castro’s private stock to highly limited editions never made available to the public, there’s a whole world of rare and valuable Cuban cigars most collectors can only dream of...

G. Clay Whittaker

When it comes to cigars, Cuba’s are the stuff of legend; the country’s most famous export is practically an empire unto itself. Before Kennedy signed the trade embargo in 1962, he famously sent an aide around to a dozen cigar shops to procure a stockpile of his favourite brand, and only put pen to paper when he was satisfied with the count.

Cuba is to cigars what Bordeaux or Napa is to wine: equal parts tradition, terroir, and myth. That combination has created a larger than-cult following for its most prized brands, including Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, and the granddaddy of them all, Cohiba.

It’s become a point of pride among Americans to smoke Cuban cigars whenever and however they can. And for the rest of the world, amassing gigantic and varied collections of all the latest products coming out of the island is a sign of status. But for even the most connected titans and oligarchs, some products remain nearly beyond reach — rare private issues they may never have a chance to buy, or may never even know exist.

Cohiba is always a major focus of collectors, primarily because, since 1966, it has been the personal blend of Fidel Castro . It was made exclusively for El Commandante until 1968, when a very small quantity was made available to the public . The Cuban state has an official diplomatic band that adorns its cigars , most of which go to world leaders, and there’s no way of knowing how many of them exist. Even more distinctively, King Felipe VI of Spain receives cigars with a unique band from Cuba, a longstanding tradition based on the strong relationship between the two countries. It’s widely counterfeited.

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