Cuban Cigar Industry Pioneers
ROYAL DECREE. LEGENDARY SMOKERS. CUBAN CIGAR LEADERS
The story of Cuban Cigars is rich and intricate in history. Many a smoker and many a pioneer. But delving through the encyclopaedia of names who have left their mark on the industry, we take a look at some of the most well-known, and those behind the scene who have helped pave the way for this tremendous enjoyment.
INTRODUCING CUBAN CIGARS WORLDWIDE – We start with none other than explorer Christopher Columbus. After travelling with his crew to explore the New World, Columbus discovered Taino Indians smoking twisted tobacco leaves which they referred to as Cohiba. Columbus brought this original form of a cigar to Spain, and it quickly spread throughout Europe. Cuba was forbidden from selling their tobacco to any country other than Spain in the 17th century. They were forced to sell their tobacco leaves to Spanish factories who would then produce. This was changed when they realised the cigars were best when made entirely in Cuba.
Top Left: Jaime Partgas, Bottom Left: Fidel Castro, Right: Winston Churchill
"Spanish duchesses adored"
ROYALTY DECLARING FREEDOM – In 1818, the King of Spain issued a decree allowing the free trade of Cuba. This gave the island freedom to sell their tobacco to anywhere in the world, and encouraged many cigar makers to begin their own factories. During this period till 1898, when Cuba remained part of the Spanish colony, many of the most iconic Cuban Cigar brands were established. This includes Partagas, Punch Cigars, El Rey del Mundo and Hoyo de Monterrey Cigars.
ROYAL AFICIONADOS – Royalty has always been linked to the movement of Cuban cigars; Spanish duchesses adored and requested to smoke them often. We shared how they used cigars to showcase prestige on our post Secrets Behind Cuban Cigar Bands. Edward VII famously ended the Victorian era of forbidden smoking, granting freedom for people to enjoy publicly. He encouraged cigar smokers to light up unreservedly and without shame, and was a great pioneer behind London developing as a cigar capital.
Top Left: Cohiba Siglo I Cigar, Bottom Left: Zino Davidoff, Right: King Edward VII
"centuries worth of production"
REVOLUTIONARY CIGAR MAKERS – It’s near impossible to mention all the successful and revolutionary cigar factory owners. One of the most iconic however, is Don Jaime Partagas. His Partagas factory is one of the biggest in Cuba, and Partagas Cigars have more than a centuries worth of production. Jaime was the first to include lectors in cigar factories, to help entertain torcedores. Additionally, Jaime is noted as the first to have experimented with new ageing techniques. Hermann Dietrich – H. Upmann Cigars creator, invented cedar boxes (still used today), and utilised the plantation workforce – the first to break workers down in divisions.
FIDEL CASTRO – Though Fidel’s nationalisation drove away many of the finest cigar makers and in turn, increased cigar production in other countries, he is responsible for launching the most well-known and largest cigar brand across the entire globe – Cohiba Cigars. Castro was in awe of his bodyguard’s cigar and wanted to meet the creator in person. Long story short, Castro had the cigars developed and Cohiba began in 1966. Who can imagine not being able to enjoy a Cohiba Robustos Cigar or a Cohiba Siglo I Cigar?
ZINO DAVIDOFF – At the young age of 19, Davidoff left Switzerland where his father Henri had a tobacco shop, and travelled to South America to soak in knowledge on habanos. Zino launched his own shop and became the connoisseur of Cuban cigars in Europe. In addition to creating three vitolas with Cuba, his own brand Zino took off. He is recognised as being the first to create links between wine and cigars.
Top Left: Cigar Roller Juanita Ramos Guerra, Top Right: Ramon Allones brand logo
LESS RECOGNISED PIONEERS – There are countless torcedores and farmers who have released new life to the industry. Gustave Bock conjured the idea of cigar bands, leading to Cuban brands being able to distinguish themselves and target new clientele. We are very fortunate to have met renowned cigar roller Juanita Ramos Guerra who crafted a Cuban cigar in front of us from scratch.
LEGENDARY CIGAR SMOKERS – Famous cigar smokers play a momentous part in adding to popularity. They heighten romantic and poetic elements. Winston Churchill is forever remembered for his Cuban cigar adoration, symbolised by the classic Romeo Y Julieta Churchills Cigar range. Shared on our piece regarding Female Cigar Smokers and how they broke taboo, we mentioned that Marlene Dietrich is partly responsible for the movement of women being able to smoke. And in the 90’s when cigars were in vogue, it was stars like Demi Moore and Madonna who enticed cigar sales and helped cigars become what they are today.
From modern innovators such as Sarah Saunders and Jimmy McGhee from Hunters & Frankau, to classic pioneers such as Jose F. Rocha; the world of Cuban cigars is vast and ever expanding. When you buy Cuban Cigars, you are purchasing a piece of many people’s legacy.