A question that cigar smokers are often asked is probably why they do it. There can be a lot of answers to that, maybe it’s a one-time thing, or you love them and have plenty of experience. Whatever the motive is, the most common reason is that smoking a cigar is an incredibly soothing and relaxing experience, no matter where you are. Therefore, choosing your cigars correctly is very important, especially if you’re a rookie looking for the best-tasting cigars on the market. This can be tricky at first, as there are endless brands and sizes, but you may want to keep reading to figure out which ones are premium quality.
If you are already a connoisseur, you probably know that the best cigars on earth are Cuban cigars, and hence one of the most famous people’s choices when buying. They are world-renowned, and everyone who has had the pleasure of smoking one knows that there’s nothing quite as delicate and tasty.
But what’s so special about them? They are made of nothing less than Cuban tobacco, which is of supreme quality due to their excellent growing and production conditions.
History – How The Cigars From Cuba Became World-famous
The story behind the success and recognition of Cuban cigars is vast. Still, it is believed that the plant was somehow brought from South America many centuries ago, approximately around 2,000 B.C. Back then, it was known as “Cohiba,” mainly used for medicinal purposes, but it was later cultivated throughout the island to give it broader uses. Its boom started when the Spanish explorer Christopher Colombus and his crew arrived to explore Cuba in 1492; they were astonished by this plant and its use. It didn’t take long for them to learn how to grow and produce tobacco, and they later decided to export it to Europe.
At that moment, cigars weren’t like we know them today; Cubans rolled up the tobacco leaves inside palm leaves. However, the Spanish improved this practice by enrolling them as the cigars we smoke nowadays. Meanwhile, the demand for tobacco grew to unprecedented levels on the island. By the early 18th century, Cuba finally opened its first cigar factory, defining a before and after in the country’s economy.
Despite that, the industry on the island wasn’t centralized, which meant that everyone was independent because there were no official rules to follow, but over time, this changed. The Revolution started in 1959, and with that came the Nationalization by the then-leader Fidel Castro in 1960, making all private companies property of the government and creating a lot of chaos.
The Cubatabaco in 1962
Another important event was the emergence of Cubatabaco in 1962, in which the government appointed officials to take ownership of Cuban factories. Still, this strategy didn’t work well because small factories closed. Years later, under that system, all factories were allowed to produce any cigar brand, but it turned out to be a mess because maintaining the quality was hard. To better understand this, in its early stages, Cuban cigar factories fabricated one single brand or, at best, a small brand group, but with the Cubatabaco, that changed.
Luckily, in 2002, it was established that factories are allowed to manufacture any brand, but there would be only one factory in charge of the blend and tobacco choice, leaving all of the others free to roll them later. After that policy, the industry continued expanding, and more factories and plantations emerged across the island. Of course, that improved the quality of renowned brands that still exist and thrive today.
Best Cuban cigar – Most Famous Brands
Now that you already know that Cuban cigars are the best ones you will find, you need to know the highlights of some brands so you can smartly decide which to buy. There is a wide variety of unique options; at first sight, they may look almost the same, but everyone has their nuance and flavor; here, you will find just some recommendations.
Established in 1935, for many people, Monte Cristo holds the title of the best cigar in the world. They are well known to be smooth and flavorful, and their range is diverse, but in its beginnings, they only had five sizes. Nowadays, its line has about 30 presentations, attracting smokers of all types and delighting the most demanding tastes with its cedar, spice, coffee, citrus, and more flavors.
These exclusive and fine cigars were the favorites of Fidel Castro, the most important revolutionary and politician of Cuba who had great taste. Cohiba cigars represent nothing but a symbol of a good life, thanks to their perfect craftsmanship that gives them their fantastic taste and quality. The brand offers endless options for cigar lovers, but they are mainly distinguished by their delicious aroma and flavor of coffee and chocolate.
Romeo y Julieta
A refined brand of classic medium-bodied cigars that was founded in 1875 and quickly became the favorite of many significant celebrities like Winston Churchill. This is not a surprise if we consider its tasty flavors that are strong but also toasty and creamy, creating the perfect balance and a rich aromatic blend.
Its success is thanks to its stunning filler and binder leaves native to Cuba, where its growing conditions and production are beyond excellent. You’ll be pleased to know that you’ll undoubtedly find the ideal option since the brand is strongly committed to satisfying all smoking needs, even the pickiest ones.
Cuban Cigars Factories – Most Prominent Areas For Growing
There’s no better place in the world to grow tobacco than in Cuba; its loose, sandy, granular, and loamy soil and its unmatched climate create the perfect conditions to give the tobacco a unique taste. To know which are the most renowned Cuban factories, it is essential to learn a little about the island’s most thriving regions to harvest Habanos. Despite the ideal conditions of the Caribbean island, some areas stand out from the rest: Vuelta Arriba, Vuelta Abajo, Semi Vuelta, and Partido.
This region is located in the far East of Cuba and has two production areas; Remedios and Oriente. Remedios is considered the central and oldest region for tobacco growing, plus it has the critical “Denomination of Origin,” guaranteeing authenticity. Tobacco also increases in the Oriente region but in small proportions compared to Remedios, and that production is not used for Habanos.
It’s the best region in Cuba to harvest and produce Habanos since every type of leaf grows there, expanding the variety of the production. Despite this privilege, unfortunately, less than a quarter of the land has the renowned qualification “Vegas Finas de Primera,” which is a requirement that Cuban cigars must have to produce the unique Havana cigars, which ensure premium quality.
Located in western Cuba is another prime area to harvest cigar wrappers and fillers and cultivate the famous Habano cigars. Even though the site is relatively small compared to others, the leaves there are incredibly full-bodied and more robust in aroma, helping to create perfect and more potent cigar blends.
This area is currently protected by the “Denomination of Origin” and is situated southeast of Havana; it has the best plantation regions for harvesting long-filler and short-filler Havana cigar leaves. This place is magical not only for its wrapper leaves but also for its long and important history dating back to the early 17th century.
That said, you may now want to know which are the country’s greatest Cuban factories, considered landmarks=! Every factory is unique, mainly because of its long history and a solid commitment to sharing with the world the wonderful experience of Habanos. The most popular are Partagas, El Laguito, La Corona, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, Francisco Donatien, Cienfuegos, and Holguin, but here are a few more details of three of them.
Also known as Francisco Pérez Germán and established in 1845 is a historic factory based in Havana; this place has been one of the most prominent landmarks in the country, producing prestigious Habanos since early times. Its cigar collection of the same name is distinguished for its intense and rich flavor and wide range of shapes, colors, and sizes, all of the best quality. It also produces renowned brands like Ramon Allones, Quai D’Orsay, Bolivar, and La Gloria Cubana.
This opulent and elegant mansion was first established in 1966 and is well-known for being the home of the Cohiba brand, making it have the highest quality standards in the whole industry. Besides manufacturing the finest Cohiba cigars, it also produces some other outstanding Cuban brands like Trinidad.
La Corona or Miguel Fernández Roig factory was first opened in 1889 and is one of the major factories in Cuba due to its long history and reputation. These days houses unique brands like Hoyo de Monterrey, Punch, San Cristobal de La Habana, Por Larrañaga, and Cuaba, to mention a few.
Cuban Rounds Cigars
Despite being called Cuban round cigars, they’re handmade in Nicaragua and The Dominican Republic with wrappers and short-fillers from these countries. Still, the tobacco seed is from Cuba, giving it the perfect touch to have the same experience as any other Cuban brand. If you haven’t had the pleasure of smoking Cuban round cigars, do it because they will give you an experience you’ll certainly not forget. Thanks to the fine quality of the leaves, you can enjoy a slow burn and an exquisite mixture of the best flavors, but the great thing about them is that they are designed to be enjoyed at any time, making them perfect for almost every smoker.
Cuban Honey Cigars
These flavorful cigars made by one of the largest factories called La Aurora come from Cuban seeds harvested in the best soils in The Dominican Republic. Once you start smoking one, you definitely won’t want to stop since its flavors are entirely natural and mellow. Some of the fantastic flavors in their collection include coffee, cherry, vanilla, and honey, giving you a unique pleasure you have never experienced before.
Why Are Cuban Cigars Illegal in the U.S.?
Sadly, Cuban cigars have been illegal in the United States since 1962 when the then president John. F Kennedy applied a trade embargo, making it impossible to import any goods from Cuba to the U.S. This shocking decision was to attack and weaken the communist regime of Fidel Castro during the Cold War period. Six decades later, a lot has happened.
The Origins of the Cuban Embargo
In the early 1960s, the geopolitical landscape changed dramatically, with tensions mounting between various world powers. Central to this was the tiny island nation of Cuba, which found itself at the heart of a significant international discord. The initiation of the Cuban embargo by the United States marked a substantial shift in relations between the two nations, paving the way for decades of contentious dynamics. Here, we delve into the origins of this embargo, understanding the Cold War backdrop and the political intricacies that led to this monumental decision.
The Cold War and Its Impact on U.S.-Cuba Relations
The Cold War era, characterized by an ideological clash between the capitalist West, led by the United States, and the communist East, spearheaded by the Soviet Union, bore witness to a series of proxy conflicts, economic sanctions, and political intrigues. Within this cauldron of tension, U.S.-Cuba relations soured considerably. Cuba’s alignment with the Soviet Union set the stage for an uneasy relationship with the U.S., escalating into a full-blown trade embargo. This move was perceived as a necessary strategy to curb the influence of communism within close proximity to American borders, thus marking a long-lasting strain in U.S.-Cuba relations.
Political Tensions Between the U.S. and Fidel Castro’s Regime
Following the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Fidel Castro established a communist regime in Cuba, further deepening the chasm between the U.S. and Cuba. The Castro-led government’s radical policies and close ties with the Soviet Union did not sit well with the U.S. administration. The ideological divergence fueled distrust, leading to the initiation of the embargo as a means to economically isolate the Castro regime. As a ripple effect, Cuban cigars, being one of the most revered products from the island, fell victim to this political move, rendering them illegal in the U.S. This period marked the beginning of a complex and thorny path in the bilateral relations between these neighboring nations, the echoes of which are still apparent in the contemporary era.
The Implementation of the Trade Embargo
In the heat of the 1960s, the U.S. government embarked on a mission to curb the communist influence seeping from Cuba. Initially partial but soon encompassing almost all trade, the trade embargo became a defining feature of U.S.-Cuba relations. This period witnessed swift and stern actions to isolate Cuba economically and politically.
President John F. Kennedy’s Role
At the forefront of this drastic policy implementation was President John F. Kennedy, a figure determined to contain communism in the Western Hemisphere. In 1962, merely a few weeks before the embargo’s official announcement, Kennedy ensured personal provisions of Cuban cigars, indicating this policy’s complex and somewhat paradoxical nature. Kennedy’s assertive stance reflected the U.S.’s broader aim to staunchly restrict Cuba’s economic and political influence during a time when the Cold War was at its peak.
The Economic and Political Goals Behind the Embargo
The embargo was not merely an act of economic restriction; it held deep-seated political motives aiming to destabilize Castro’s regime and curb the spread of communism. The U.S. sought to incite internal dissent by stifling Cuba’s economy, hoping that economic hardships would lead to political change. Moreover, this move aimed to safeguard American interests in the region, portraying a powerful message against the proliferation of communist ideologies. Thus, the embargo became a multi-faceted tool, demonstrating power dynamics and geopolitical strategies during a tense period in global politics.
Effects of the Embargo on the Cuban Cigar Industry
The U.S. embargo against Cuba markedly shaped the narrative surrounding Cuban cigars, transforming them into a forbidden fruit in the American market. This embargo stifled economic relations and severely impacted the Cuban cigar industry, traditionally a proud and significant sector of Cuba’s economy. The limitations imposed bred a climate of scarcity and exclusivity surrounding Cuban cigars, enhancing their allure and global prestige. Now, let’s explore further how this embargo restructured the global cigar market and affected Cuba’s economic landscape.
Shifts in the Global Cigar Market
The embargo inadvertently stimulated shifts within the global cigar market. While U.S. aficionados could no longer readily access Cuban cigars, other nations became primary consumers, fostering a burgeoning market in Europe and Asia. Moreover, neighboring countries like the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua seized the opportunity to elevate their cigar industries, offering alternative premium products to meet the demand in the U.S. This shift in market dynamics also saw innovations and collaborations as producers ventured to replicate the coveted Cuban flavors, forging a new era in the global cigar landscape.
Impact on the Cuban Economy
The stringent restrictions of the embargo exerted considerable strain on the Cuban economy. Many potential revenue streams evaporated, forcing the Cuban cigar industry to reinvent itself. Despite facing a constrained U.S. market, the industry thrived, capitalizing on the mystique surrounding Cuban cigars to cultivate markets elsewhere. Moreover, it intensified efforts to innovate and maintain a superior quality that could sustain its global demand. Though shackled in many ways, the Cuban cigar sector demonstrated resilience, evolving to navigate the complex economic and political currents it found itself engulfed in.
Attempts to Lift the Embargo
In recent decades, the rigidity of the Cuban embargo has been tested, with numerous attempts to lift or ease the stringent regulations that have been governing U.S.-Cuba relations since the 1960s. These attempts often hinged on shifting political climates and policy adjustments spearheaded by different U.S. presidents. The varying strategies to either tighten or loosen the embargo have fueled debates and influenced public opinion and advocacy efforts. Here, we delve into the policy changes initiated by various U.S. presidencies and how public sentiment and advocacy groups have contributed to this ongoing dialogue.
Policy Changes Under Various U.S. Presidencies
- Bill Clinton (1993-2001): Implemented the Helms-Burton Act, which strengthened the embargo and allowed the sale of some humanitarian goods to Cuba.
- George W. Bush (2001-2009): Reinforced the embargo with stringent measures, restricting travel and remittances to Cuba.
- Barack Obama (2009-2017): Initiated a historic thaw in relations, relaxing travel restrictions and allowing Americans to bring a limited amount of Cuban cigars back to the U.S. as a part of a broader move to normalize relations.
- Donald Trump (2017-2021): Reversed many of Obama’s policies, reinstating harsher restrictions and a comprehensive ban on Cuban imports, including cigars.
- Joe Biden (2021-): On November 3rd 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration voted against a U.N. resolution to end the longstanding economic embargo on Cuba, indicating a continuation of strained relations between the two nations.
Public Opinion and Advocacy Efforts
The complex history of the U.S.-Cuba relationship has spawned diverse opinions and advocacy efforts amongst the American populace. Many advocate for a complete lift of the embargo, citing potential economic and diplomatic benefits. Meanwhile, others remain staunch in their belief that the embargo is necessary to exert pressure on the Cuban government for democratic reforms. This divide in public opinion has played a pivotal role in shaping the policies enacted by successive governments, adding layers of complexity to an already intricate issue.
Thankfully Cuban cigars are not only sold in Cuba; as a result of this vast and profitable industry, you can buy them all around the world, giving you access to join the thousands of Habano aficionados. Besides, they can also be found on many web pages and shipped directly to the comfort of your home without spending a fortune traveling to somewhere else to get them. A little advice is to be very careful to find reliable online pages, as some sell fake and will try to trick you into thinking you’re buying pure Cuban cigars.