So I had no plan to smoke this cigar for a few years. I have yet to smoke any cigar from 2018, especially the 4th quarter of 2018. However, there was quite the debate about fake singles at hotel libre. I have shopped at hotel libre many times. I have twice bought singles. Most recently some monty 80th. I bought some on the first day (well, all they had!). During the rest of my trip they never replenished that cigar. While a good cigar to test, I just got it a month ago and it needs some rest. I did take a picture of the cigar with a UV light. From that, we can only tell the band is real! Notice in the pictures below "MC" appears when hit with a black light.
In the trip a year ago, I picked up some single La Trovas. This was more of an odd case. When I bought my allotment of singles (limiting customers to 5 only is a good sign they are not fakes) I would always see them replenished the next day (I stayed right next to Libre and went there every morning while waiting for everyone else to get up in the morning). It was like they had some big box of these somewhere and simply replenished what ever was taken. Given this odd behavior, and that a year has passed, I thought that this wood be a good example to test "fakes at hotel libre". If any cigar was going to be faked, this would be one of the most likely. Yes they had cohiba singles (including talismans) but nothing seemed to move like these la trovas. At 12.50 each, I can see why! FYI, aside from the partagas factory hiding some stash of these, no where else on the island had la trovas. But Libre seemed to have plenty, though no boxes.
During transport, I damaged the wrapper of one really bad. So I decided to dissect it. Pictures below. You can see nothing but quality long filler. The smell was amazing. Very sad I damaged this cigar. Though with knowing now that I'm not smoking floor sweepings, I lit up one.
Here are my notes:
Cookie dough, straight out of the gate
As it develops:
Cream ramps up with the cedar dropping off. cookie dough, nutty, coffee and cream
Cedar returns as the cookie dough dies off. lots of nuts and cedar
Lasted 1:40. It was an amazing cigar. So complex. Wasn't even slightly harsh, surprising given its age. 100% authentic.
So can I definitely conclude that libre sells only real singles? No, of course. However, given that they were constantly refilling their one box on a cigar that is one of the top contenders for being fake, I fell pretty secure in buying more singles from them. Now I likely won't as transporting singles can be tricky. But I feel strongly that those that spread rumors about fakes at libre are just perpetuating a lie. I get the concern as they have the best singles on the island, so it is natural to question how this one store has them while the rest don't. I can also say that I have no issues in dealing with them. They seem to work in teams. 2 guys and another team of 2 women. Both teams are friendly and have written fracturas without question. Even for just a single box Now I go there often and I swear they smile as to say "Seriously, you again?!" so perhaps they are just nicer to me.
So no, I'm not the definitive answer. I'm just saying that I've seen nothing odd and can say that I have successful bought real high in demand cigars that were 100% authentic.