Cuba has a rich history of cigars. In fact, as any Cuban cigar review would show, the Western history of cigars and smoking tobacco began when Columbus discovered native Indians smoking tobacco. He took tobacco leaves back with him and Europe was hooked.
What makes Cuban Cigars special
A good Cuban cigar review reflects several winning ingredients. Cuba has rich land and willingness for agricultural experimentation. Manufacturers nourish tobacco leaves through intricate processes of curing and aging.
Throughout history, the United States and other countries have served as catalysts for both the native cigar industry in Cuba and the transplantation of Cuban growers. Cuban seeds have always been a favored import item, resulting in homegrown versions of Cuban tobacco and cigars throughout the world.
Cuban cigar history
In the late 1880s, Cuban manufacturers forged large cigar producing factories in Ybor City, before it became part of Tampa Bay, Florida. American industry in Cuba was actually importing Cuban tobacco leaves to the States for machine production of cigars before the revolution.
Around 1959, Fidel Castro had noticed a bodyguard smoking a cigar made by Eduardo Rivero. Today, grown from leaves in several protected fields, the Cohiba is regarded world over as one of Cuba’s finest cigars. Castro eventually sanctioned Habanos S.A to produce the cigar. The company has shared ownership by Spain-based Altadis, one of the world’s largest cigar and tobacco producers — recently partnered with French financial interests — and the government tobacco company, Cubatabaco.
Cuban cigar review shows how the name Cohiba has been duplicated by an American-backed firm of Dominican cigar growers. The authentic Cuban Cohiba is specially processed through a third fermentation of its leaves.
The Cuban hand-rollers, the torcedores, have world respect for skillful rolling of the best cigars. Tradition is that a literary novel was read aloud as the torcedores worked. One such book was Dumas “The Count of Monte Cristo,” hence the name of the world’s most popular Cuban cigar, the Montecristo.
The Montecristo shares with the popular Hoyo de Monterrey brand the travails of pre-revolution and post-revolution origins and complicity. The original Cuban owners left the island after the revolution’s nationalization of the cigar industry in 1961. They re-emerged with a similar brand in the Dominican Republic. The state successfully continued production of the Cuban Montecristo under Habanos S.A. and Altadis, distributed by the British firm Hunters & Frankau.
Hoyo de Monterrey
Cuban brands each put out different aromatic blends of their labels. Habanos SA produces Hoyo de Monterrey, which is distributed by the Swedish firm, A Durr Co. Churchill — named after the UK prime minister — Corona and Epicure are some of the popular Hoyo de Monterrey lines.
The split personality of the Cuban cigar review and tradition continues with the popular Partagas and the full-bodied Bolivar, both also made in the Dominican Republic under Swedish-controlled interests; Romeo y Julieta, similarly made by Altadis in the Dominican Republic; and Punch, named for the 1840s popular English character and duplicated in the Honduras by the Swedes.
The Real Fabrica de Tabacos Partagas, representing one of the handful of hand-rolling factories in Cuba, is an excellent example of 19th century Spanish industrial architecture and one of Havana’s attractive tourist sites. The factory demonstrates how, from its own soil, Cuba continues to flavor and build the world’s best cigars.