Originally Posted by ferrari355fi
you need to watch out at cigar shops. Sometimes even the employees don't know what the fuck they are talking about, and sometimes they do know what they are talking about and will sell you fake cubans and laugh about it when you walk out with some. The best way to tell is experience. When you smoke enough cubans you develop a sense of what is fake and what isn't.
This is good advice. If you don't have the experience, find someone who does that you trust and bring them with you. Here's some more guidance, things I've learned over the years when it comes to cubans:
1. As for experimenting with new vendors, your first purchase should always be made with what you consider to be throw away money. They may have a great reputation, but every new vendor should be dealt with with suspicion to begin with. You don't have to voice that suspicion, but they're guilty until proven otherwise.
2. You should always order the first box from a seller you've never done business with before "intact" where possible, IMO. Singles and mixed sampler packs should be avoided until you trust the seller.
3. Once you do trust the seller, it's usually good to form a first name basis relationship with them if possible.
4. The first order from a new seller should be a "consistent" cigar, ideally it should be relatively distinctive, and preferably something you are already familiar with.
5. Generally stay away sellers who won't ship intact.
6. Stay away from vendors who won't guarantee shipping.
7. Look for vendors that are authorized by Habanos SA.
8. If prices look to good to be true, they probably are.
As I mentioned before, I'll get more into spotting fakes without smoking them later when my next shipment arrives. However, there is ultimately no substitute for developing a feel for the texture, flavor, and aroma of habanos.