Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 14.
Perhaps we all need a distraction from the tension and debate surrounding the presidential election, a little something that's purely pleasure-oriented and frivolous compared to the weighty issues of late.
Well, here it is.
It may have gone unnoticed in the heated, final weeks of the political campaigning that the U.S. government officially lifted restrictions on Cuban rum and cigars.
That's right: the long forbidden and much coveted Cuban cigar, a thing of fascination for countless cigar lovers, and prized by cigar connoisseurs the world over, can now be brought back to the U.S. without penalty.
According to the updated regulations released by the Treasury Department in late October, U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba are no longer restricted to bringing back just $100 worth of tobacco and alcohol. That $100 limit has been entirely removed and Cuban rum and cigars are now subject to the same duties as alcohol and tobacco from other countries.
Translation: stuff your suitcase, carryon bag, handbag, you name it, because you can now bring home an unlimited amount of cigars and rum as souvenirs.
You can thank President Obama for this little post-election, pre-holiday, gift. The development is part of the process of normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba that Obama began in December 2014.
Given the easing of regulations, it seemed only fitting to speak with a few people who have expertise in Cuban cigars, to obtain some insight regarding their personal favorites, as well as their recommendations regarding where on the island to buy them (just in case you're now hastily booking a Havana-bound flight and you're not a Cigar Aficionado trained expert yet.)