If you think of Cuba, a cigar often comes to mind. This image is an affectionate way of looking at the country like Italian’s are associated with pasta, or New York to pizza. But, as the cigar industry has boomed in the past decades, and with it, other countries’ tobacco industries flourished as well.
The Cuban cigar industry has centuries of traditions dating back to the Spanish era. This unbroken line of practice only saw hiccups during communist rule, but otherwise, the sector remains the staple of the country’s economy.
Dominican Cigars vs. Cuban Cigars
Neighboring countries like the Dominican Republic have what Cuba often misses: versatility. But Cuba has what no other cigar producing countries have—a unique taste and flavor that is distinctly Cuban.
Cuban cigars are known to have a unique taste among cigars. This flavor profile is due to the weather, climate, and location of the tobacco plantations. The ideal climate and soil are present to make the tobacco the best quality possible. If you grow Cuban seeds in another country, the result will be significantly different. That’s why Cuban cigars have a remarkable reputation.
The government recognizes this and protects certain plantations with the denomination of origin legislation to maintain the highest quality possible. This regulation puts its products on par with a certain quality, like Swiss cheese or Argentinian beef. The law of the country protects the industry.
Growing puros originated from Cuba and developed through centuries of production. The best cigar manufacturers handed down their tradition and craft to the next generations. Likewise, the seeds were also grown and cultivated in Cuba. The industry flourished for centuries and became favorable to nurture and obtain the ingredients locally.
For the Dominican Republic, it’s about reliability and quality. Imagine looking for a puro, undecided between a Cuban or Dominican Puro. If you were to buy a Dominican Puro, there is no doubt it would be easy to determine where the cigars originated. However, plenty of fakes is out in the market for Cuban Puros.
However, if you buy a Cuban puro, it might be a hit or miss. There is a chance that you might get a plugged cigar compared to purchasing a Dominican Puro. The best option, as always, is to buy from a credible local store in Cuba. Going through this alternative is the highest chance of buying the best puro your money can get.
This quality concern is a result of its high demand, too. The demand causes a problem for the Cuban industry, as the growers focus on quantity rather than quality. When there is high demand for premium puro cigars, primarily hand-made, the quality dips slightly. In an estimate, a Cuban cigar takes around 100 steps to create. For Cubanos, cigar production is more of a work of art than anything else, especially since it is such a delicate product using fine materials with a rich tradition and history.
Cigar enthusiasts consistently ranked Cuban cigars as one of the top ten cigars produced globally between 2004 and 2014. Cubanos earned the top spot three times.
For Dominicanos, the history speaks volumes of their tradition of excellence. The cigar industry in the Dominican Republic boomed only in the 1980s, slowly starting from the 70s. The trade embargo imposed by then US President John F. Kennedy on Cuba was an opportunity for a budding Dominican industry. Dominican growers found footing in the US for their exported goods, and expansion continued years after. To date, the Dominican Republic has shipped billions of tobaccos in the United States alone.
However, issues surrounding the quality of tobaccos grown in Dominican soil have recently sprung up. Time will tell if their industry can weather this problem.
Does a Dominican or Cuban Cigar Taste Better?
Taste is almost subjective for many.
If you are used to strong nicotine flavors, it’s a plus for you to buy Cuban instead of Dominicanos. Cuban cigars are generally known for their strength. There are mild Cubans, too, but the reputation for strength sets Cuban cigars apart.
Cuban tobaccos often have plenty of ligeros—the upper part of the tobacco plant—making the tobacco rich, flavorful, and harsh tasting. Connoisseurs who will not compromise the strength for taste will enjoy Cubanos for their flavor profile. Cuban cigars have a slower burning rate with earthy, woody, and sharp aromas.
Subjectively, if you are the person who likes to think through your cigars and enjoy the whole experience, Cubanos are an excellent choice. It’s a staple you will want in your humidor. The unique flavor you can get from Cuban tobacco justifies the high price point for the cigar. Here is a list of Cuban brands associated with medium to strong taste.
Table Comparison of Cuban vs. Dominican Cigars
|Cuban Cigars||Dominican Cigars|
Top Cuban Cigar Brands
Partagas cigars are full-bodied with tobacco grown in Vuelta Abajo and a deep, earthy flavor. The most famous lines are the Series D No.4, the Lusitania, and the 8-9-8 cigar. These tobaccos have an earthy, peppery taste.
This brand is famous for inspiring Fidel Castro to build a brand for its unique taste. This high-end brand is one of the most expensive cigars on the market. Popular lines include Lanceros, Cornoas Especiales, Pantelas, Esplendidos, Robustos, and Exquisitos. Grassy vanilla, cocoa, coffee taste.
Established in 1840, and specializes in hand-made, long-filler cigars. Punch cigars have medium-strength cigars from Vuelta Abajo, boasting sweet and woody flavors.
Romeo y Julieta
Established in 1875 and was named after the Shakespeare play. Winston Churchill famously liked this brand which was hand-made and manufactured in Vuelta Abajo. Its flavor profile ranges from floral, nutty, and herbal to tangy, fruity, and woody taste.
Established in 1935 and made in Vuelta Abajo. Montecristo specializes in medium to full-strength cigars with a complex profile of tangy, fruity, sweet, cocoa, coffee, and vanilla.
Established in 1902 and made in Vuelta Abajo. Earthy, fruity, and tangy taste, but very strong. Not recommended for novice cigar smokers
Established in 1844 by a German banker and the favorite brand of John F. Kennedy. Its backstory tells of JFK asking his secretary to buy as many boxes the evening before he signed the Cuban trade embargo. His secretary of state, Pierre Salinger, brought him 1,200 boxes before he signed the embargo.
Top Dominican Brands
Altadis USA has one of the most famous factories globally in the Dominican Republic, Tabacalera de Garcia, founded after the Cuban trade embargo. AUSA produces cigars from well-known brands like Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, and Dominican-made H. Upmann. These brands started in Cuba and licensed by AUSA to sell in the US.
Romeo y Julieta (non-Cuban)
H. Upmann (non-Cuban)
Built the first Dominican Puro in Opus X. Before Opus X, no tobacco grower achieved this feat. Created revolutionary brands such as Hemingway and Don Carlos.
La Flor Dominicana
Known for full-bodied cigars, this brand focuses on small batches and quality control. La Flor Dominicana is one of the prominent brands to weather the end of the tobacco boom in the 1990s.
Starting from Switzerland, Davidoff cigars expanded internationally by partnering with the Cuban Tobacco organization. Eventually, the partnership ended, and now one of their most famous factories is in the Dominican Republic. Davidoff focuses on premium, aged tobaccos.
Has a history of acquiring boutique tobacco brands and bringing them to a broader audience. These include La Gloria Cubana and CAO. They also licensed Cuban heritage cigars and made them in the Dominican Republic, such as Partagas, Hoyo de Monterrey, and Punch.