Secrets Behind Cuban Cigar Bands
POETIC. OPULENT. FILLED WITH SECRECY
Cigar bands – the most controversial and critiqued element of Cuban Cigars. The paper wrapped around a habano is full of mystery and intrigue. And you as a smoker, have probably never given it much thought. The primary purpose of a cigar band is to identify what brand has produced it. But this simplicity only scratches the surface of the secrets lurking…
RUMOURED TALES – The cigar band’s origin is shrouded in rumours and stories. The British are said to believe that they created them, in order to stop cigars from staining a gentlemen’s white gloves, which is similar to the myth of the Russian queen Catherine the Great. As reported by Cigar Aficionado, many believe she requested her cigars wrapped in silk to stop her fingers from being stained, thus beginning a type of band. The article suggests this is unlikely nevertheless, due to “eighteenth century royalty notorious for bathing monthly.” A relaxed attitude to bathing goes against the idea of the story.
Top Left: Montecristo cigar brand logo, Top Right: H. Upmann cigar brand logo, Bottom: Partagas cigar brand logo
"synonymous with artisanal craft and affluence"
THE TRUE INVENTOR – Despite all the uncertainty, we are confident the genius creator was Gustave Bock – a Dutchman living in Cuba in the mid-nineteenth century. As a working cigar maker, and one of the first Europeans to become heavily involved with the Cuban tobacco industry, Gustave wanted to find a way to make his cigars more special and recognisable from all the other cigar brands on the market. His idea quickly caught on, as by 1855, the majority of cigar manufacturers were producing their own.
PRESTIGE AND LUXURY – In our blog post Female Cigar Smokers: How They Broke Taboo, we shared how the Spanish helped vastly in the projection of cigars as a luxurious item. Countesses and duchesses from Spain adored, and soon demanded their cigars come from Cuba. With more people smoking and the act in itself becoming more common, cigar bands added an additional layer of prestige. They became synonymous with artisanal craft and affluence. Before machinery, the art of creating a cigar band required tremendous precision and skill. Each band needed placing at the exact same height.
BRAND ASSOCIATIONS – So much more than paper, cigar bands are pieces of art which represent how a Cuban cigar brand wants to be remembered. Take for instance, Bolivar. The image of South American General Simon Bolivar, a strong and powerful leader on each band, represents the strong, robust flavours of Bolivar cigars. Meanwhile, Montecristo Cigars feature a French symbol to signify ‘regal’, and pays tribute to The Count of Monte Cristo – a novel which inspired the brand’s name. In our post uncovering the history of Romeo Y Julieta Cigars, we shared how once owner Jose Rodriguez Fernandez, used a rumoured collection of 20,000 personalised cigar bands to attract elite customers who could showcase his cigars as a status symbol.
The Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 Reserva Cosecha 2012 Cigar and The Montecristo Dantes Limited Edition 2016 Cigar are two of the most exclusive habanos made
"bands enhance the experience of smoking"
COLLECTABLE PIECES – It was only in Britain where showcasing a cigar brand was considered bad mannered. Today however, cigar bands have a long legion of admirers throughout the world, with many who revel in collecting. While not much has changed about them since they were first made, newer Cuban companies tend to have designs more minimal and elegant. Cigar bands enhance the experience of smoking. This is why in 2000, Habanos SA began making Limited Edition Cigars and Regional Edition Cigars, with an extra band to state the year that they were produced. The Limited Montecristo 80 Aniversario Cigar has received global acclaim, as has the Cohiba Talisman Cigar.
REMOVE THE BAND OR LEAVE ON? – Another heavily debated factor with cigar bands is whether or not to remove before or during smoking. We advise not to remove before, as the heat of a cigar will help loosen and make the band fall off more effortlessly without damaging. The risk of nicotine staining fingers presently is virtually non-existent, but bands continue to remain for their poetic and traditional connotations. In the book The Connoisseur’s Book of the Cigar, Zino Davidoff suggests “removing it once you have smoked about a fifth of the cigar”.
Whether you remove or keep on, Cuban cigar bands are a quintessential cigar element, wrapped in history and stature, and sentimental for all Cuban Cigars online.