Cuban Cigar Box Codes

From the 1st January 2000 all boxes of Cuban Cigars have carried an ink stamp showing the first three letters of the Month and two numerals for the year this century. A word of explanation is needed on the months. They are, of course, in Spanish, so the full table looks like this

Month Codes:

January 2000  = Enero = ENE 00
February 2000 = Febrero = FEB 00
March 2000 = Marzo = MAR 00
April 2000 = Abril = ABR 00
May 2000 = Mayo = MAY 00
June 2000 = Junio = JUN 00
July 2000 = Julio = JUL 00
August 2000 = Agosto = AGO 00
September 2000 = Septiembre = SEP 00
October 2000 = Octubre = OCT 00
November 2000 = Noviembre = NOV 00
December 2000 = Diciembre = DIC 00
January 2001 = Enero = ENE 01
and so on.....

The identification of the factory where the box was made remains in a code, which thankfully so far has not been cracked. At Cigar World we believe that factories should remain secret.  It is the Cuban industry's responsibility to ensure the quality and consistency of their precious cigars no matter where they were made.

Reproduced with kind permission of Hunters & Frankau - December 2000
(Havana cigar importers with over 200 years experience)



Cuban Box codes cracked by Internet!





In Mid January 1999, the Cuban Industry introduced new, secret codes to identify the date when boxes of cigars were finished and the factories where they were made. Within eight weeks, however, full details of these new codes were published on an American cigar enthusiasts website. Now the second set of secret codes this year has just been introduced. So far, they remain secure.

The use of codes stamped on the bottom of boxes of Cuban cigars started in 1985 when Cubatabaco, the forerunner of Habanos SA decided that it would help quality control if the history of individual boxes could be traced. The month and year of manufacture were recorded by four letters, which could be converted into numbers using a simple ten-letter code word

NIVELACUSO

representing the numbers 1 to 0. Thus the letters OCSC, for example, meant 0797 or July 1997. Each factory was given its own code usually based on the name of a well-known Cuban patriot like Jose Marti (JM) for the H. Upmann factory or Fernando Roig (FR) for La Corona.

This system served its purpose well for over eight years. However, as the level of interest in Cuban cigars grew during the 1990s, more and more people found out what the codes meant. The greatest problem this posed was that cigar enthusiasts, often led on by the new breed of cigar journalists, concluded that certain brands of Havanas were better made at one factory rather than another. As a result, in shops all over the world customers could be seen turning boxes of Cuban cigars upside down to check the codes and rejecting them if they did not carry the stamps they wanted. This, of course, would be perfectly valid if it was true that one factory's output was dramatically better than another's, but both Habanos S.A. and UNETA, which runs the factories, have hotly denied that this is the case.

The new codes, which started to appear in January, used a similar ten letter word for the date of manufacture. This time it was CODIGUNETA but, to complicate matters, the numbers ran 9876501234. The factory codes were changed completely to three
apparently random letters for each facility, although the first letter in each case indicated province in Cuba where it was situated for example E for Havana, G for Pinar del Rio, C for Sancti Spiritu and so on.

It is understood that the latest system came into use during August. We are told that the factory codes are now changed each month, which will make them very hard to crack. The date code remains a mystery, but, at Cigar World, we question the wisdom of masking the month and year of manufacture.

We accept the case for keeping the factories secret. After all it is the job of the Cuban industry to ensure the quality and consistency of their precious cigars no matter where they are made. But the date of manufacture is very different. This is vital information for both retailers and cigar enthusiasts, who appreciate that fine Havanas improve with age. So why keep it secret?

Reproduced with kind permission of Hunters & Frankau
(Havana cigar importers with over 200 years experience)


NEW NEW CODES


We are all still trying to decipher the new codes, but here's what we know so far.....

EPOO = 06/99
EUOO= 07/99
EAOO=08/99
EOOO=09/99
LEOO= 10/99
LL00 = 11/99
LR00 = 12/99
EL00 - 01/2000
ENE00 = January 2000
FEB00 = February 2000

El Laguito = LOME
H. Upmann - ECA
La Corona - SUA
Partagas - OSU
Romeo y Julieta = PEL 


NEW CODES

"NIVELACUSO" is dead. Habanos S.A. has finally begun shipping boxes of cigars with the new factory/date codes that they have been talking about for nearly two years. The new codes supercede all of the existing codes and are regarded as "super top secret" by Habanos officials.

They claim the reason for the change was to add an additional deterrence to counterfeiters, but we here at CigarNexus.com do not believe this to be the case. Let's be honest for a moment, how hard would it be for any counterfeiter to look at the bottom of any legit box of Cuban cigars in a store, read the seven letter code, and then duplicate the same exact letter string on hundreds of fake boxes? It wouldn't. Plus, how would a new unknown code help any consumer identify a box as real or fake? If anything it would make it easier for counterfeiters to use any letters they desired on the box and claim, "Oh those are the new codes." One Habanos rep countered my logic with, "It is designed to help authorized Habanos Dealers determine the authenticity of the cigars on behalf of their customers." To which I replied, "What type of legit Habanos dealer needs a new code to be able to tell the difference between real and fake Cuban cigars? If my tobacconist was relying on some ink stamp to separate the wheat from the chaff I would find a new one quick!" Guess what, there was no rebuttal.

As for the true reason for the code change, I can only speculate. Possibly Habanos was concerned that most consumers preferred buying and smoking from boxes of cigars that were made in the historic Havana factories over those made in the Provincial ones. The common perception is that the quality of the provincial made cigars is less. This impression would have a derogatory impact on Habanos S.A.'s overall product status since so many of the cigars are now being produced outside of Havana in an effort to reach 200 million cigars for export. New codes would prevent the consumer from being able to quickly determine where the box is made and short-circuit this bias. However, I don't believe this is the case.

First, Habanos S.A. has invested tremendous effort in improving the quality of their cigars from the smaller factories, and it is beginning to consistently bear fruit. Over the last year I have smoked some truly first rate Habanas from some of the provincial factories and I think that most hardcore Habana smokers are going to realize the improvements that I have and not be so leery of purchasing provincial made cigars. Second, as you look at the new codes you will quickly see that it is very easy to identify the various provinces and Havana made boxes from the first letter alone. If anything, this new code makes it easier to separate Provincial vs. Havana made cigars.

Honestly, I think the primary reason for changing the codes was because they simply outgrew the old ones. The new system not only includes all of the Provincial factories, but also simplifies the system by organizing all of the various factories by their region. Although it is going to be harder to remember the new codes, I believe it is a huge improvement over the previous system. It provides a common format for recognizing from which province the cigars are made and allows for the identification of the multitude of smaller factories outside of Havana.

So say goodbye to "NIVELACUSO" and hello to "NETAGIDOCU." It isn't as easy to say, but I think most Havana smokers are going to regard the new codes as an improvement over the old ones.

The above article was reproduced by kind permission of our friends at cigarnexus.com



NEW CUBAN BOX CODES:


Havana Factories - Fabricas de La Habana
Ciudad de La Habana - Havana

Carlos Baliato, formerly El Rey del Mundo

EGD

Briones Montoto, formerly Romeo y Julieta

EDC

El Laguito EUN
Francisco Pacrez German, formerly Partagas EAT
Miguel Fernandez Roig, formerly La Corona EOG
Hacroes de Moncada ENI
Jose Marti­, formerly H. Upmann ECA
Juan Cano Sainz, formerly Por Larranaga EEO


Provincial Factories - Fabricas de Provincias


Cienfuegos Province
 

Cienfuegos I  

OTC

Cienfuegos II  

OAI

Cruces  

OOG

Cumanayagua  

OET

Lajas  

OIN


Granma Province
 

Bayamo  

NAT

Jiguana  

NOO


Holguin Province
 

Antilla  

UNG

Gibara  

UDI

Holguan I  

UAN

Holguan II  

UCE

San Andras  

UET


La Habana Province
 

Artemisa I  

TEN

Artemisa II  

TEC

Bejucal  

TND

Gaines  

TOU

Gaira I  

TAE

Gaira II  

TDC

Quivican  

TIO

San Antonio I  

TCI

San Antonio II  

TNG

San Antonio de las Vegas  

TGT

San Nicolas de Bari  

TUD

Santa Cruz del Norte  

TTA


Pinar del Rio Province
 

Candelaria  

GDI

Consolacian del Sur  

GAO

Piloto  

GCN

Pinar del Rio  

GNU

San Juan (Rio Seco)  

GOC


Sancti-Spiritus Province
 

Arroyo Blanco  

CEG

Cabaiguan  

COT

Fomento  

CGI

Guayos  

CNE

Jatibonico  

CTO

Perea  

CUN

Sancti-Spa­ritus  

CID

Taguasco  

CDU

Trinidad  

CAC

Zaza del Medio  

CCA


Santiago de Cuba Province
 

Santiago de Cuba  

AGE


Villa Clara Province
 

Baez  

DNU

Camajuana  

DDE

Esperanza  

DIT

Manicaragua  

DEC

Placetas  

DGC

Quemado de Gaines  

DAI

Ranchuelo  

DOD

Remedios  

DCO

Santa Clara I  

DTA

Santa Clara II  

DAT

Santo Domingo  

DNC

Vueltas  

DUN


Month Codes
 

January  

UN

February  

UE

March  

UT

April  

UA

May  

UG

June  

UI

July  

UD

August  

UO

September  

UC

October  

NU

November  

NN

December  

NE


Number Codes
 

1  

N

2  

E

3  

T

4  

A

5  

G

6  

I

7  

D

8  

O

9  

C

0  

U


OLD CUBAN BOX CODES:


Havana Factories - Fabricas de La Habana


Ciudad de La Habana - Havana
 

Briones Montoto, formerly Romeo y Julieta  

BM

Carlos Baliato, formerly El Rey del Mundo  

CB

El Habanero  

EH

El Laguito  

EL

Francisco Pacrez German, formerly Partagas  

FPG

Miguel Fernandez Roig, formerly La Corona  

FR

Juan Cano Sainz, formerly Por Larranaga  

JCS

Jose Marti, formerly H. Upmann  

JM

Habroes de Moncada  

HM

Las Mambisas  

LM


Provincial Factories - Fabricas de Provincias


Cienfuegos Province
 

Cienfuegos region (same as CFGS)  

CFG

Cienfuegos region (same as CFG)  

CFGS

Francisco Donantien, Pinar Del Rio region  

FD

Las Villas region  

LV

Ricardo Donatien, Pinar del Rio region  

RD

Sancti-Spiratus region  

SS

Tobacos Lazaro Peata, San Antonio region  

TLP

Granma, Bayamo region  

TTB

Holguin region  

TTH

Villa Clara, Santa Clara region (same as VSC)  

VC

Villa Santa Clara, Santa Clara region (same as VC)

VSC


Date Codes
 

1  

N

2  

I

3  

V

4  

E

5  

L

6  

A

7  

C

8  

U

9  

S

0  

O


Typical Formats Decoded
 

FPG  

Francisco Perez German

OCSC  

07/97

BMNNSA  

Briones Montoto 11/96

JM-N0SV  

Jose Marti 10/93

NISC-TLP-02  

12/97 Tobias Lazaro Pena 02

VC1-ISU  

Villa Clara 1 2/98