Cohiba Esplendidos


oneizzzz
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Alright Sleuths, please help me determine whether these Esplendidos are legitimate or counterfeit.  The code is MAR MAR 22.

Overview: 

On the one hand, the serial code checks out (comes up as 2022 Esplendidos and matches the digits on the seal).

On the other hand, the inner varnished box is questionable and the bands seem fake.  The sticker on the cardboard box is also inconsistent with a legitimate box I have.

  • The top portion of the wooden box is smaller (shorter) than my legitimate box of Esplendidos (included in this post for comparison).
  • The quality of the wooden box in question seems lower.  Note the cracks in the bottom box in the second picture.  
  • The placement of the Taino head and "Cohiba" stamp is higher up than legitimate box.
  • The shade of yellow between boxes is different.  The questionable box is lighter (on all stickers and bands).
  • The Taino head is misaligned within the white background on sticker inside the lid.
  • The Taino head and "Cohiba" stamp on the cedar sheet is embossed rather than merely stamped (as it is the 3 other legitimate cedar sheets shown for comparison).  It looks to be a different type of ink as well.
  • The "Habana, Cuba" text is not centered (it's low) within the yellow band on the questionable bands.
  • There is no UV illumination on the questionable bands.  There should be 4 diagonal squares and a code which light up under a UV.  I've included two pictures of an authentic Cohiba Esplendido band for reference, in which both the squares and code show up under a UV light.  (To me, this bullet point is the strongest in terms of pointing towards counterfeit).
  • While present, the small Taino head within the gold Taino head on the band is quite ill-defined and hard to see.
  • Under UV illumination, the bands in question appear much different from my legitimate box of MAR FEB 21 Esplendidos.  The yellow is paler and they appear brighter.  In the third to last picture, the cigars in question are on the top left of the picture.  I thought, "Well these are a year newer, perhaps they've changed the bands.  So I pulled out my box of Cohiba Siglo V from EBP MAR 22.  The bands in that box (which is from the same month and year as the box of Esplendidos in question), appear similar to my authentic box of Esplendidos from MAR MAR 21.
  • In the last picture, please note the difference in width of the white band.  The box on the left is in question.

This is confusing me quite a bit.  The bands clearly seem fake.  The outer cardboard box, seal, and serial number seem perfect.  The inner wooden box, along with the cedar lining sheet are somewhere in between.  Would love your opinions.  Thank you.

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37 minutes ago, El Presidente said:

You will need to smoke one for the review weekend. entry ;)

Fair enough 😇 ... not willing to smoke one from this box though.  Will pull something else out.

@El Presidente What do you think about these?

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Not proof yet and suggest to contact retailer as pres mentioned but … one of the signs of the recent Coro/sig 6 fake explosions from MF was a slightly smaller varnished box when compared to the legitimate ones. They were about 1/4” smaller in most dimensions. Given the recent scandal, best to err on the side of caution but definitely reach out to your vendor asap 

 

What are the serial numbers of the box in question ? That’s been a red flag for recent ones ? Should be in 50s for 2022

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1 hour ago, Bigkahuna said:

What are the serial numbers of the box in question ? That’s been a red flag for recent ones ? Should be in 50s for 2022

First six are 000054.  Will post some pics of the seal/serial number.

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15 hours ago, oneizzzz said:

First six are 000054.  Will post some pics of the seal/serial number.

Can you take a UV picture of the warranty seal and post it.  Should be a coat of arms that comes up on the seal. 

 

**Edit** - @oneizzzz reason I mention it is because there is another telltale sign of a fake in the coat of arms that has started popping up recently.  The attached picture is what the coat of arms SHOULD look like.  There have been some fake boxes coming through that have a blank space where this small red box is, or a serial number where the red box is, and it shouldn't be there:

 

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Damn those are some pretty damn good looking fakes. Scary. 

I also think that the UV illuminating squares can sometimes be missing. I have a cab of Sig III's that don't have the four squares. My understanding is that they often will use larger bands and trim them down with scissors to fit thinner RGs. Or sometimes there's a single illuminating square that's underneath the glue of a band. (I haven't smoked one of my IIIs so I'm not sure if mine contain 1 square that lights up or if it was cut off.).

However one thing that all my Cohiba have is an UV illuminating CHB### code. The fact that your Espy's do not would be quite concerning to me. There's also some subtle, but clear, differences in the two bands that you have side by side. The differences you mentioned are all things that caught my eye too. Another that hadn't been mentioned yet, is that the embossed gold COHIBA has some off centered circles to make the capital 'B'. Almost like the gaps in the B are in the lower left corner of the letter. (noticing this in picture 13th from the top). Maybe it's the lighting from the photo playing tricks on me too though. 

Regardless I hope that you're able to contact your vendor and get things straightened out. If you don't mind please let us know how it all plays out for you!

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6 minutes ago, gormag38 said:

Damn those are some pretty damn good looking fakes. Scary. 

I also think that the UV illuminating squares can sometimes be missing. I have a cab of Sig III's that don't have the four squares. My understanding is that they often will use larger bands and trim them down with scissors to fit thinner RGs. Or sometimes there's a single illuminating square that's underneath the glue of a band. (I haven't smoked one of my IIIs so I'm not sure if mine contain 1 square that lights up or if it was cut off.).

However one thing that all my Cohiba have is an UV illuminating CHB### code. The fact that your Espy's do not would be quite concerning to me. There's also some subtle, but clear, differences in the two bands that you have side by side. The differences you mentioned are all things that caught my eye too. Another that hadn't been mentioned yet, is that the embossed gold COHIBA has some off centered circles to make the capital 'B'. Almost like the gaps in the B are in the lower left corner of the letter. (noticing this in picture 13th from the top). Maybe it's the lighting from the photo playing tricks on me too though. 

Regardless I hope that you're able to contact your vendor and get things straightened out. If you don't mind please let us know how it all plays out for you!

Keeping with the idea that larger bands are sometimes used and trimmed down to fit thinner RG's, this can often lead to that UV code on the band being cut off.  Or at least that's what I've been told.  I do have some Sig 3's that came from here actually, no UV code on the back of the band 

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Just now, Silverstix said:

this can often lead to that UV code on the band being cut off. 

That is actually a good point. I forget what type stick it came off of, but I actually have a band that has the first part of the UV code but then the remainder got snipped off. So I guess it is very plausible that the code could be completely snipped. 

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Thanks y'all. 

I've attached ten new photos in this post.  I didn't initially include the six of the outer cardboard box and seal because everything looked legit to me and I didn't want to confuse the original post.  I don't have the best UV light - waiting on a better one to arrive in the mail Wednesday.  The coat of arms shows up, but I can't quite tell if that blank space is present or not.  I keep going back and forth.  @Silverstix Thanks for bringing up that detail.  What do you think?

I removed one of the bands from the cigars in question.  It is a 48-54 ring gauge band.  As has been mentioned, this in itself isn't an issue.  I had a box of Cohiba Lanceros with chopped 48-54 gauge bands.  Those, however, had two squares and CHB**** codes (which were partially chopped off, but present) which illuminated clearly under my UV light.  

The codes from the bands in question aren't chopped off because the bands are the exact same length as a legitimate Cohiba Robusto band.  I've attached pictures of both.

Upon further examination (as I've been typing this), I can barely see a "CHB****" code on the questionable band.  I think I can barely see the two squares illuminated on the top left of the band in question as well, but they don't show up at all in a picture.  It's significant if they are in fact there.

 Is it possible these bands were printed "when the printer was running low on ink" or something??  What's the acceptable margin of error in all of this production?

That would not explain the inconsistencies in the wooden varnished boxes though.  Or some other bullet points mentioned in the original post.  

🥵🤯

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@oneizzzz very tough to tell with that UV photo of the seal.....if you can get a better pic with the new light definitely post it up.

I guess ultimately this is why they always told me "trust the vendor" when I first started out, otherwise we can drive ourselves crazy with the inconsistencies that appear in legitimate boxes and never really know what we got

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Update:

Thanks to all who have been contributing to or following this thread.  I'm hoping resolving this matter ends up contributing to what we know about legitimate/counterfeit Habanos cigars, as was the case with the Montefortuna debacle exposed by @Cigar Salute.

I received a better UV light in the mail and it successfully illuminated the coat of arms, CHB0505 code, and two diagonal squares on the upper left corner of the band.  This is good news to me, as it points toward legitimacy in my eyes.  I've attached pics.

The only things that give me pause now are:

  • The difference in shade of yellow.  The yellow on the box in question (stickers, bands) is paler than the yellow on other boxes of legitimate Cohibas, which is a rich egg-yolk color.
  • The Taino head and "COHIBA" is embossed onto the thin cedar sheet, rather than merely stamped as it is in other boxes.
  • The inconsistent placement of the logo on the outside of the varnished box, compared to another box of Esplendidos.
  • The varnished box is different dimensions than a legitimate box of 2021 Esplendidos.
  • The fact that the "COHIBA" on the sticker of the outer cardboard box is centered within its white background, rather than placed toward the upper region of that background.  The white background on this sticker is also smaller compared with other outer boxes from Cohiba.  I've included a pic to illustrate this.  
  • The fact that, under UV illumination, the bands in question appear quite different than legitimate Cohiba bands (lighter, grainier, etc...).  

My gut tells me these are real, but there are some very clear inconsistencies.  The whole package has basically everything you'd look for to prove legitimacy (legitimate current serial number, legitimate coat of arms, matching serial digits on the seal, consistent Habanos stamp code font, proper UV illumination details on the bands), yet many details are slightly off.

How and why would counterfeiters have access to the full anatomy of legitimate Habanos production, yet not be able to get it 100% right?  It just doesn't make sense to me for them to have gotten this close to producing an exact replica, but not do it perfectly.  But the flaws also don't make sense to me even if I believe these are real.  The errors in packaging are not an individual's mistake.  They are printing and stamping inconsistencies. 

I don't know much about El Laguito production methods.  Maybe in 2022 (this box is MAR MAR 22) they have changed the color of yellow, format of the outer sticker, dimensions of Esplendido boxes, etc...).  If this batch of stickers and bands was just printed when the printer was low on ink, that may be excusable.  However, that explanation would not absolve the box from its inconsistencies regarding the dimensions of the varnished box or the design of the sticker on the outer cardboard box.  Those would be design changes.

Man, I am driving myself crazy!  I suppose this is a just punishment for my greed in acquiring a second box 😂... this headache certainly makes lesser-faked, high-quality, standard production Habanos cigars more appealing to me!  Gonna go pull out a Juan Lopez #2 and relax 🥂.

Cheers,

Alex

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 11/1/2022 at 10:57 AM, nKostyan said:

Check if there is a factory seal under the warranty seal

Pretty sure the fakers have figured this out. I've seen several boxes similar to the MF affair boxes with the Tabacuba sticker under the warranty. 

This would be the case if the boxes are being commandeered between the factory and the HSA warehouse as I have heard a few theories suggest. The Tabacuba seal is applied before the cigars leave the factory. The warranty seals are applied at the HSA warehouse, hence the fakers' need to create the seals from whole cloth. They never made it to the warehouse. 

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On 11/8/2022 at 1:24 AM, gormag38 said:
I actually wondered this as well. Typically, you can feel the factory seal by rubbing your finger along the top warranty seal. 


It is enough to heat with the hairdryer and the seal comes off

 

On 11/9/2022 at 7:44 PM, NSXCIGAR said:
Pretty sure the fakers have figured this out. I've seen several boxes similar to the MF affair boxes with the Tabacuba sticker under the warranty. 
This would be the case if the boxes are being commandeered between the factory and the HSA warehouse as I have heard a few theories suggest. The Tabacuba seal is applied before the cigars leave the factory. The warranty seals are applied at the HSA warehouse, hence the fakers' need to create the seals from whole cloth. They never made it to the warehouse. 


Of course, this is not a problem for scammers. But usually they leave part of the seal in plain sight so that there is no doubt. The seal doesn't look out here, so I wonder if it's there.

Example of a fake:


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