No one knows when the first cigar would have been smoked – but tobacco products have been used by indigenous American and Caribbean people for thousands of years before the Europeans ‘discovered’ tobacco in the 1490s. Cigar smoking became popular in Europe in the late 18th century and then throughout the 19th century, with an increase in the traffic of tobacco and hand-rolled cigars in particular, on the return to home journeys of ships on the trans-Atlantic trade routes.
Cigar production and trading is now a global business, but the most prestigious hand-rolled cigars still come from Central American and Cuba in particular. Cigars bearing the legend “totalmente a mano” or “hecho a mano” signify their authenticity as hand-rolled cigars.
Cigar traditions and companies
When purchasing or indeed smoking a top quality cigar you are almost certainly buying into a little piece of tradition and history. Today two companies have a virtual monopoly on the production of fine cigars – Altadis and Swedish Match. Altadis resulted from the merger of several other companies in 1999 and in 2008 was itself bought out by Imperial Tobacco. However, despite being a relatively new company it has the commercial rights to most of the best known hand-rolled cigar names including the iconic Montecristo and Romeo y Juileta. Formed in 1917 the Swedish Match company is now the name behind historic and classic cigars such as Partagas and Punch.
Some individual cigar histories
Bolivar, this cigar takes its name from Simon Bolivar one of the great romantic figures of the 19th century. He liberated much of South America from Spanish rule and, seven years after his death in 1894, the Rocha Company in Havana commemorated him on their cigars. Subsequently, from 1901 onwards this cigar has been associated both romantic imagery and that of one of the 19th centuries most powerful figures. Unsurprisingly the powerful blend of this cigar matches the history of its name. Flavor – full. Visit our Bolivar shop!
Cohiba was created in 1968 as Havana’s premier marque for diplomatic use only. Since 1982 it has also been available to the wider public in three sizes; Lanceros, Coronas Especiales and Panetelas. Then in 1989 three more sizes were made available; Esplendidos, Robustos and Exquisitos – completing La Linea Clasica. Finally in 1992 Siglo I, II, III, IV, and V were added to the range. Flavors – La Linea Clasica is medium to full, whilst the La Linea 1492 is medium. Shop for Cohiba cigars in our store.
Hoyo de Monterrey takes its name from the plantation where it is grown in the south-west of Cuba. Originally a tobacco grower Jose Gener didn’t start to make cigars until 1865, five years after starting his plantation near the village of Vuelta Abajo. By popular demand the richer tasting cabinet range Lo Hoyo cigars were introduced in the 1970s. Flavors – Hoyo de Monterrey is medium and the Le Hoyo series are medium to full. Buy Hoyo de Monterrey cigars in our store.
The exact history behind the H Upmann brand of cigars is a little hazy. However, it appears that this cigar is named after a pair of German bankers or traders who in 1844 were so infatuated with cigars that they moved to Cuba. Operating duel careers as bankers and cigar makers, the banking business was soon abandoned in favor of Cuban cigar making. Now part of the Altadis group each cigar still has the Upmann signature on its label. Flavor – light. Want to buy H Upmann cigars?
Montecristo: this iconic cigar was first introduced to the world in 1935 by the H. Upmann factory in just five sizes described by numbers not names. The other sizes like the “A” and Especiales were added in the early 1970’s. Montecristo’s distinct flavor delighted cigar smokers so much that it has reigned supreme as the most popular Havana for over two decades. Flavor -medium to full. Get Montecristo cigars in our shop!
Partagas is another famous cigar name from the 19th century. Don Jaime Partagas opened the doors of his famous factory at Industria 520, Havana, in 1845. His highly respected cigars have been made there ever since and still use the original rich blend of tobaccos. However, should you be offered any fine aged Partagas Cuban cigars dating from 1987-1990, be very wary as the factory was closed then for extensive refurbishment and restoration. Flavor – full. Shop for Partagas cigars now!
Punch, dating back to 1840 this cigar was deliberately named to match that of the humorous and satirical British magazine – Punch. This cigar label still shows a contented ‘Mr Punch’ with a cigar in his hand. Like the cigar, the magazine is still going strong and popular as ever. Flavor – medium. Buy Punch cigars in our store.
Romeo y Julieta first made by Alvarez y Garcia in 1875, it is one of the oldest cigars to retain a high level of popularity. This cigar started to become popular after 1903 when it was purchased by “Pepin”, Fernandez Rodriquez. He travelled widely, raced his horse “Julieta” all over Europe and produced the widest selection of personalized cigar bands for the celebrities of his day. Flavor – medium. Shop for Romeo y Julieta cigars in our store.