Cigars in Puerto
Here in Puerto Vallarta you will find
a fine selection of cigars (called "puros" here),
made in Mexico from Mexican, Nicaraguan, Dominican, Honduran,
and Cuban tobaccos.
Generally speaking, Mexican cigars are
cheaper and milder, but flavourful and very aromatic, when
compared to Cuban or Central American cigars. They are definitely
an excellent buy!
You can also enjoy real Cuban cigars here...Mexico
is still friends with Cuba. If you're returning to the United
States, however, you can NOT bring them back with you, under
penalty of SEVERE fines. NOTE: This also applies to
residents of Canada and other countries if you are even
merely changing planes in the United States on your way
the not-too-distant past, Mexican cigar companies were required
by law to only use Mexican tobacco in their cigars. The
result of this law was that most Mexican cigars were full-bodied,
but had little complexity. Well, luckily for the cigar companies
(and cigar smokers), that law has changed and the taste
of many Mexican cigars did as well.
The best cigars in Mexico are made from
tobacco grown up in the mountains of Veracruz state; due
to the closeness to the Gulf of Mexico and prevailing winds,
the "Tuxtlas" region enjoys a mild and humid climate,
where tobacco reaches high quality and concentration of
flavor. There are several medium-sized cigar companies in
the area, giving employment to a great number of experienced
cigar makers; cigar-rolling is by hand, according with tradition.
Puerto Vallarta has quite a few cigar stores
where you can buy Cuban and Mexican cigars, but beware...many
stores have been known to pass off cigars as Cuban which
have never been anywhere near that island nation. You'll
also discover that many cigar stores, especially on the
Malecòn are really just time-share traps, where they
hope to get you in the door for cigars and then talk you
into taking a presentation. Since they have to cover the
high rent, the cigars tend to be seconds or outright counterfits.
Two other issues to consider: Is the store
a true humidor? A quality cigar store will have the temperature
and humidity controlled to maintain perfect cigar condition.
Finally, if purchasing a sealed box of Cuban cigars, make
sure you are shown the watermark on the Cuban government
seal under a black light. Any store that won't do that is
a tip off to you that something is not quite right.
We've sorted out some of the most reliable
places for your cigar purchases here.
A 'must-stop' is in Viejo Vallarta: The
Vallarta Cigar Factory on Vallarta Street, in the first
block south of the bridge over the Cuale River, across from
the Hotel Molina de Agua.. Here you can watch as Andres
rolls about 200 cigars every day, blending a variety of
tobaccos for optimum flavor and smokability. Andres will
be glad to make cigars to your order based on your desire
for blend and size.
Vallarta Cigar Factory is also a reliable
source of genuine Cuban cigars. They carry some of the most
famous and popular names in Cuban smokes such as Cohiba,
Romeo and Juliet, Punch, and more. Even the occasional cigar
smoker should take the opportunity to try a genuine Cuban
to see what all the fuss is about.
If you walk a litte further south, you'll
notice two cigar stores across the street from each other
at the corner of Madero...BEST TO AVOID THESE, as the proprietors
are unwilling to verify the quality and origin of their
walk half-block south, and on the west side of the street
you'll find "El Gato Gordo", a fine cicar emporium. Grant has
very reasonable prices in their tiny and friendly store,
and will help you find the right 'stogie' for you from their
selection of Mexican and Cuban cigars like Monte Christos,
Cohibas, H. Upmann, and others. They keep their cigar store
properly humidity- and temperature-controlled, and Grant
is a 40-year cigar smoker who can advise you on the different
smoking characteristics of the different style cigars. Novice
cigar smokers will enjoy Grant's brief course in "Cigar
There's also a branch of the afore-mentioned
Vallarta Cigar Factory just across the street from both
the 'Flea Market' and the HSBC bank, just north of the Cuale
River crossing of Insurgentes Street.
La Bodeguita del Medio (or "La B del
M") on the Malecon at the corner of Allende Street
is not only a great Cuban bar and restaurant with real Cuban
music, but also a great source of genuine Cuban cigars.