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In 1901, the Rocha Cuban Cigar Company began producing this outstanding brand – the Bolívar. Named after the infamous General who freed South America from the Spanish, the Bolívar cigar is often compared to the character of the great General himself – strong, powerful and robust in every way.
Today, Bolívar cigars are thought to be amongst the strongest, most full-bodied cigars produced in Cuba. The Bolívar cigar is not for the beginner; it's distinctively strong flavor and robust nature draw mostly seasoned Havana aficionados. Oddly, at one time the Rocha Bolívar was famous for offering the world's smallest Cuban cigar, the Delgado, measuring only 1 7/8 inches by 20 ring gauge. It is said that the royal nursery at Windsor Castle once housed a spectacular dollhouse complete with a miniature box of Bolívar Delgado cigars in residence.
In 1492, during Columbus's first voyage to the "new world", he visited the island of Cuba. His sailors were introduced to "Cohíba" by the island natives, a bunch of dried leaves that were smoked in a pipe called a "Tobacco".
In 1982, 3 types of Cohíba Cuban cigars were introduced to non-diplomats: the Lanceros, the Coronas Especiales and the Panetelas. 3 more vitolas were added to the brand in 1989: the Espléndidos, the Robustos and the Exquisitos, completing what is known as "La Línea Clásica". 5 more vitolas were added in 1992 creating the "Linea 1492": the Siglo I, II, III, IV and V.
Cohíba remains the "King of the Cubans". Only the finest tobacco leaves are used to create the various types of Cohíba cigars. A distinct bean taste has been attributed to Cohíbas, however I would say the common factor amongst the Cohíba family is the strong nature of all the cigars. This is not a beginners brand.
First introduced in London in 1996, the Cuaba brand was the first new Cuban cigar brand to be introduced into commercial production since 1968. Historically, "Cuaba" is the Taino Indian word for the special Cuban bush used to light the "Cohíba" or "Tobacco" on the Island. Generally associated with a taste that is similar to Romeo Y Julieta, full of various flavors but never tasting too much of one flavor in particular, Cuaba cigars are on average mild and balanced.
All 4 of the Cuaba vitolas are in the figurado (perfecto) shape: the Exclusivos, the Generosos, the Tradicionales and the Divinos. This shape was popular until the beginning of the 20th century. Habanos S.A. decided to revive the British tradition of smoking figurados; hence the fitting unveiling of the brand in London, England. Habanos, S.A. has since reintroduced other historic brands and shapes.
Introduced in 1966, the Diplomáticos Cuban cigar brand is often compared to the popular Montecristo vitolas; the brand was originally introduced as a "less expensive" Montecristo, primarily aimed for the French market.
Sizes and names essentially mirror the Montecristo nomenclature and Diplomaticos line is produced at the Jose Martí factory, along with most of the Montecristo line.
However, the Diplomáticos Cuban cigar brand soon broke away from this limiting comparison due to it's special blending of fine tobacco. Cigar connoisseurs worldwide regularly savor it's unique, rich and flavorsome taste and now covet this fine brand.
The Diplomáticos brand is another of the great Cuban brands introduced during the 1960's. All cigars produced so far by Diplomáticos are hand made ("Totalmente Hechos a Mano") with whole leaves or long filler ("Hojas Enteras" or "Tripa Larga").
Introduced in 1842 by the Antonio Allones factory, the El Rey del Mundo brand was launched under the name "The King of the World". An extremely high quality cigar, "The King of the World" cigar enjoyed great success during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Soon, the company and the brand were renamed "El Rey del Mundo". One of the classic Cuban cigars, El Rey cigars boast a mixture of fine tobaccos and a rich aroma. In the mid 20th century, the El Rey brand was one of the most expensive Havana cigars on the market. The brand's medium-bodied flavor (true even in the larger sizes) and a distictively exquisite aroma make this a great cigar for smokers of all levels of experience, and for any time day or night.
This brand name is one of the most popular and coveted Habanos among all cigar smokers of the world. All sizes are made with tobacco from the Vuelta Abajo region using the 'totalmente a mano, tripa larga', totally hand made, long filler method.
An exquisite cigar, the Fonseca brand is the only Cuban cigar brand that offers all its cigars wrapped in extremely delicate, almost transparent paper. It is thought that this wrapping helps the cigar maintain an optimal humidity level. The wrapper also protects the cigar from becoming damaged.
Cigar aficionados love the unique appearance of the Fonseca cigars. The Spaniard Don Francisco Fonseca first registered the Fonseca trademark in 1907. Early in the 20th Century, the Fonseca Cuban cigar was manufactured in several different Havana cigar factories. Fonseca Cuban cigars are now produced in Quivicán, a small town in the province of Havana.
The taste associated with a Fonseca cigar is a mild sweetness and aromatic herbal quality. The mild quality of the Fonseca brand means that it offers a chance for beginners to exercise there palate with a Cuban.
Don Francisco Fonseca, a handsome man, who cared deeply about appearances, passed this precision on to his cigars, which he dressed in silky tissue paper - a tradition that continues to this day on the four Habanos sizes that bear his name. Fonseca's light blend of tobaccos from the Vuelta Abajo region makes it the ideal cigar to follow a light meal. All sizes of Fonseca are 'totalmente a mano', totally hand made with three being 'tripa larga', or long filler and one 'tripa corta' or short filler.
This name comes from a song titled "Guajira Guantanamera", written in 1928 by Cuban singer and songwriter Joseíto Fernández and gained fame during the 1940s.
Guantanamera is a Current ICT machine-made brand. It was a post-revolution brand, established in 2002, and was deleted from Habanos portfolio circa 2005.It is now produced in Cuba by Internacional Cubana de Tabacos, S.A. (ICT) under license to Habanos S.A.
The range comprises light strength machine-made cigars using short filler tobacco from the lesser Vuelta Arriba region. They are cheap cigars made for the mass-market, and have pre-cut heads.
There are also two small cigars produced, in a Puritos and Mini format. In 2010 a special Selección 13 pack was released, comprising 3 Cristales, 5 Decimos, and 5 Puritos. Prior to 2010 a Selección box containing 15 cigars (4 Minutes, 3 Christals, 3 Décimos, and 5 Puritos) was also available
These mild to medium bodied cigars have a very smooth and subtle flavor that has been its hallmark since its introduction in 1844. A great favorite among aficionados, the history of this brand began around 1840, when Herman Upmann, banker and almost fanatical cigar enthusiast, offered to open a branch of his family-owned bank in Havana Cuba.
In 1844, he (not surprisingly) invested in a cigar factory, and from then until 1922, the company traded as both a bank and a cigar business. In that year, both companies failed, and a British firm, J. Frankau & Co., saved the brand and ran the cigar factory until 1935. It was then sold to the newly-founded Menendez y Garcia Company. And so it was that a legend was re-born.
Characteristically, Upmanns offer a smooth, subtle, mild to medium smoke. These cigars are great for beginners, but appeal to the day-time tastes of seasoned connoisseurs. Their larger sizes are among the most rare and sought-after cigars in the world.
Its wrapper, darker than in other brands, stresses its flavor and fragrance, giving it a sweet and spicy note. They were very successful in the last century in Germany where these cigars were served in silver salver. And this is now a most cherished brand in England and throughout Europe. H. Upmann Factory is today the Parent Company of the renowned Habanos Montecristo, Diplomaticos, and the pioneer of H. Upmann firm. These are all premium cigars backed by a charming appearance and available in a wonderful variety of sizes.
José Gener, originally a leaf grower and eventually the founder of one of the greatest Cuban cigars factories on the Island of Cuba, began producing the great Hoyo de Monterrey brand in 1960.
The "Le Hoyo" series was added to the commercial cigar market in the mid-seventies. The name translates roughly as "the valley of Monterrey", which is a particularly fertile area of land in the "Vuelta Abajo" area of South west Cuba. Gener farmed in this valley for many years during the late 1800's.
Known by all cigar connoisseurs due to its distinctive flavor, silky richness and complexity of taste, the Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona is perhaps the most sought after and coveted Cuban cigar made. Some believe "gold" really does grow from the ground.
Produced in 7 factories, the Hoyo vitolas and the magnificent Hoyo Double Corona are made with only the finest Cuban tobacco.
Hoyo de Monterrey owes its origin to the town of San Luis y Martinez, which lies at the heart of the Vuelta Abajo tobacco region. Here, the Hoyo de Monterrey plantation can be reached through a gate on the town's main square inscribed 'Hoyo de Monterrey. Jose Gener. 1860'. Hoyo literally means a 'hole' and in this case describes the low-lying position of the plantation on the fertile banks of San Juan y Martinez river. Jose Gener, a Catalan, first used the name of his vega on a brand of Habanos in 1865. The flavour of Hoyo de Monterrey's blend makes it an attractive choice for those who seek a delicate yet aromatic Habano that is lighter to the taste but with great elegance and complexity. The best-known sizes are the Double Corona and the Epicure Nos. 1 and 2 but there is also a range of standard and slender gauge vitolas known as the Le Hoyo Series. All sizes are 'totalmente a mano, tripa larga', totally hand made, long filler.
Jose L Piedra was a very popular brand in the US prior to the embargo. The brand was resurrected in 1996 and has since found a following again. The tobacco for the Jose L Piedra cigars is grown in the Remedios region of Cuba. These strong cigars offer raw tobacco flavors and definitely need time to reach their best.
Jose L Piedras are rolled in the country towns of Cuba from tobacco's grown in the province of Pinar del Rio. They have been local favourites for generations but are now available to the wider world. They are fresh and naturally finished. All the cigars are banded and packaged in cellophane bundles to maintain their freshness and quality.
In 1876, Juan López Díaz created the Juan López brand; in 1908, the brand was passed to his heirs, and was then sold to the Sociedad C. Del Peso y Cía in 1918.
The Juan López is one of the few Cuban cigars that is still only made by hand (hecho a mano). Although the brand is offered in a limited number of styles, it is said to be one of the best handmade Havana cigars produced.
Medium strength and a woody aftertaste makes these cigars attractive to all Cuban cigar smokers.
Although little known around the world today, Juan Lopez has always attracted a following among aficionados of Habanos. A small production, mild and smooth blends, comprising only six shapes. These characteristics demonstrate that this brand has maintained the high level of quality. Unfortunately the limited production means that, from time to time, these vitolas disappear from the market place.
We can affirm that the Juan Lopez is one of the rare Cuban brands that have preserved the genuine marks and traditions of their ancestors. The range offers a consistent flavor based on a rich blend of leaves from the Vuelta Abajo region and all the sizes are 'totalmente a mano, tripa larga', totally hand made long filler.
La Gloria Cubana or "The Glory of Cuba" brand, introduced in 1885, is one of the oldest Cuban brands. Made only by hand (hecho a mano), the La Gloria is available in a variety of mostly long, lanky sizes.
Developed by José Rocha and Rafael García, the brand got off to a good start thanks to tireless promotion by Pepin Fernández, owner of the Romeo y Julieta brand, who helped his friends introduce the La Gloria Cubana and El Crepúsculo brands overseas.
La Gloria Cubana cigars are often said to have a "salty" taste, especially when aged.
Distributed widely throughout the world and sold originally by Dunhill New York, the Montecristo brand cigar currently accounts for almost 50% of all Cuban cigars exported each year, making the Montecristo the most popular Havana cigar in the world. The Montecristo was originally branded in 1935 under the name "the H. Upmann Montecristo Selection".
When appointed the British distribution agent, the John Hunter firm shortened the brand's name to Montecristo. The John Hunter firm also redesigned the brand's logo to its distinctive red and yellow box with the triangular crossed swords.
Montecristo forms the benchmark for many Habanos smokers against which other brands are judged. The name comes from the hero of Alexandre Dumas's famous novel 'The Count of Montecristo', which was a firm favorite among the Torcedores (Cigar Rollers) at the factory in Havana where it was founded in 1935.
Today the range, which was originally composed of a narrow assortment strictly numbered from 1 to 5, covers every level of the cigar enthusiasts needs from the majestic Montecristo A to the tiny Joyitas.
Montecristo's perfectly balanced blend is created exclusively with selected leaves from the Vuelta Abajo region, home of the finest tobaccos in the world. Its distinctive medium to full flavor and distinguished aroma, appeal equally to both new and experienced smokers. All Montecristo sizes are now and always have been 'totalmente a mano, tripa larga', totally hand made, long filler.
If there is one particularly famous cigar factory in Havana, it is Partagas. You can find it at No. 520 Industria Street, just behind the Capitol building, in the heart of the city.
The factory was opened in 1845 by Don Jaime Partagas and it has been making the cigars that bear his name ever since. A Partagas is immediately recognizable by its deep, earthy flavor. The character of its blend springs from a selection of tobaccos from the Vuelta Abajo region chosen for their unmistakable richness of flavor and aroma. Partagas come in a wide array of shapes and sizes.
The best known are the Serie D No. 4, the Lusitania and the 8-9-8, a cigar that is named after the way it is arranged in its box. All sizes are 'totalmente a mano, tripa larga', totally hand made, long filler, except two, which are 'mecanizado' or made by machines.
"There's peace in a Larrañaga, there's calm in Henry Clay" reads the first half of the 5th couplet in "The Betrothed", an 1890 poem by the celebrated English writer Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).
The Por Larrañaga brand, created in 1834 by Ignacio Larrañaga and Julián Rivera, is likely the oldest continuously produced Havana cigar still in production. Unlike in Kipling's day, the Por Larrañaga brand is currently available in only one handmade style and a handful of machine-assisted vitolas.
The cigar, wrapped in a paper-thin cedar leaf, is a masterpiece, and truly distinctive due to its delicate presentation. Por Larrañaga cigars are generally associated with a caramel sweetness and subtle aromatic flavors.
Established in 1840 and intended for the British market – where a comic book featuring a character named "Mr. Punch" was in fashion – Don Manuel López, owner of the J. Valle y Cía, established the Punch cigar brand.
The comedian Mr. Punch, who wore an unmistakably sly smile and who always had a cigar in his hand, still adorns the box decoration of these outstanding Cuban cigars. The Punch cigar soon became a Habano of indisputable quality in the marketplace.
The tremendous popularity of Punch cigars amongst the British also trapped Sir Winston Churchill who gave into the temptation to visit the Monte y Zulueta factory during his stay in Havana. The British statesman ended up giving his name to a size of this brand. All the Punch cigars boast strong aromas of mainly fruity and woody tastes.
This brand owes its origin to the refined taste of the French market. Created in the 1970's, the name is taken from a well-known street in Paris beside the River Seine and the President's residence. All Quai d'Orsay sizes are made with a light tasting blend of leaves from the Vuelta Abajo region and its wrappers are mainly distinguished by their Claro (light brown) and Colorado Claro (mid brown) colours. All sizes are 'totalmente a mano, tripa larga', totally hand made long filler.
Augustin Quintero and his brothers got their start in tobacco in their hometown of Cienfuegos in the Las Villas province of Cuba in the 1920's. In 1940, they created this full-flavoured brand which continues today, primarily in machine-bunched/hand-finished and all machine-made sizes. The original Quintero y Hermano factory has, since 1998, once again been producing top-quality Cuban cigars.
Quinteros are strong tasting cigars, and are also one of the best-selling Havana cigars in Germany.
Rafael Gonzalez was created in the 1930's. It was in this brand that the 6.5 inch (165mm) by 42 gauge cigar, which has the factory name of Cervantes, was first called a Lonsdale after Lord Lonsdale, the famous English sporting Earl and cigar aficionado of that period. Now many other brands use the name as well.
On its lid label each box carries a curious inscription written in English to the effect that the cigars should be smoked within one month of the date of shipment from Havana or otherwise they should be carefully matured for about one year. Rafael Gonzalez cigars contain a light tasting blend of leaves from the Vuelta Abajo region.
All sizes are made by the 'totalmente a mano, tripa larga', totally by hand, long filler technique bar one, which is 'totalmente a mano, tripa corta', totally hand made, short filler.
Ramon Allones is one of the big names in the history of Habanos. Founded in 1837, it is also one of the oldest brands in production. A Galician by birth, Ramon Allones was the first cigar manufacturer to pack his cigars in boxes decorated with labels and stamped with his brand's emblem. He was the pioneer of the packaging we know today.
All the cigars are filled with a blend of tobaccos from the Vuelta Abajo region, characterized by their intense and complex taste. The range includes 'tripa larga, totalmente a mano', long filler, totally hand made cigars such as the famous Gigantes and Specially Selected.
Founded in 1873, the Romeo Y Julieta brand once printed over 2,000 cigar bands! The "Romeos" are one of the most well-known and popular of all of the Havana brands.
Over 40 shapes and sizes are produced under this brand, some of which are considered the very best in their size. Romeo y Julieta cigars have won gold medals worldwide for both taste and quality. With so many different sizes and so much pressure on production due to worldwide demand, it is especially impressive that the entire brand continues to be appreciated as one of absolutely top quality.
Of particular repute are the Churchill sizes. As always, a large box (25 or 50) of untubed cigars (there are many tubed versions) is an excellent choice, although Romeo Y Julieta tubed cigars are also among the best available. The brand is also credited with introducing the "Churchill" shaped cigar, in honor of the famed warrior and British Prime Minister. British lore claims that when Prime Minister Churchill would meet with foreign heads of state, he would insert a straightened paperclip through the length of his cigar.
As his cigar ash would grow longer and longer but not fall, it is said that Churchill would unnerve his often-hostile guests, allowing him to gain an upper hand during delicate negotiations. With so many varieties of cigars one cannot describe all the variations of flavors acheived by Romeo Y Julieta, however, a distinct trait of a Romeo Y Julieta cigar could be that it has been able to adapt to the changes in epicurian fashions over the centuries.
Created in the mid 1950s by two British importers, these outstanding cigars enjoy a loyal following which included some famous names like Frank Sinatra and James Coburn. Only 60,000 cigars are produced each year, and they are among the very best Havanas available on the market. Special characteristics of the brand include their oily, dark, smooth wrappers, a very full bodied, highly-refined flavor, and superb aroma.
They represent an excellent value as they tend to be somewhat less expensive than cigars of comparable quality and prestige.Make special note of the Saint Luis Rey label which is red with white and gold. These must never be confused with the black-labeled San Luis Rey, which is a Cuban-made brand for the German market. Some Saint Luis Reys are actually machine made in Germany for the mass market. Their black labels bear an emblem not dissimilar to the superior Saint Luis Reys.
San Cristobal de la Habana was the original name of Havana, Cuba's capital city, when it was founded in 1519; San Cristobal (St Christopher) in honor of Columbus and La Habana after an Indian name for the site. San Cristobal de la Habana cigars were introduced in 1999 as a tribute to the city's long history on the threshold of the new Millennium.
Its range is composed of four vitolas with a light to medium flavor using tobaccos from the Vuelta Abajo region. Each is named after one of the fortresses that defended the city in the days when it was the hub of Spain's Latin American Empire.
All are 'totalmente a mano, tripa larga',totally hand made, long filler and two sizes, El Morro and La Fuerza, are not found in any other Habano brand. Mercaderes, Oficios and Muralla are vitolas available in exclusive at La Casa del Habano.
Like other great Habano brands such as Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta, Sancho Panza takes it name from a masterpiece of world literature. In Don Quixote, the famous 17th Century Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes, it was Sancho Panza who served the errant knight as his faithful squire. His name was first used for a Habano in 1848 and since then it has enjoyed a reputation for quality among discerning smokers.
The range today includes an example of the largest size of Habano available, a 235mm (9.25 inch) Gran Corona, which bears the simple name of Sancho. Using a medium-bodied blend of tobaccos from the Vuelta Abajo region, all sizes are 'totalmente a mano, tripa larga', totally hand made, long filler.
Trinidad is named after the beautiful 16th Century city of La Santisima Trinidad (The Holy Trinity), listed by UNESCO as a historical monument, which is situated on Cuba's south coast. Trinidad, as a Habano, dates back to 1969 but for many years, like Cohiba, it was made only for gifts to foreign diplomats. Not until 1998 was it released for general sale and then only in small quantities. The new sizes have brought this brand into the forefront of modern smoking. Trinidad cigars are made at El Laguito factory, the home of Cohiba, to its own particular recipe of tobaccos selected from the Vuelta Abajo region. Trinidad cigars are 'totalmente a mano, tripa larga', totally hand made, long filler.
Since 1980, the Trinidad Fundadores had been produced exclusively for President Fidel Castro. The only boxes to leave Cuba were gifts to foreign diplomats. In February of 1998, the brand was officially launched as an export in Trinidad, Cuba.
The cigars were first made available in Canada and Mexico in April 1998, and later became available to the world market. This line features one size, the Fundadore, which means Founder.
It is similar in size to the Cohiba Lancero, measuring at a ring guage of 40 and a length of 7 and 3/4 inches or 195 mm. Named after one of Cuba's most beautiful cities, and is packaged in an 'unusual' quantity of 24 cigars as well as in cabinets of 50.
Medium tobacco, herbal, floral and hints of bean flavors are what epitomize Trinidad cigars in taste. There is always a certain amount of mystery about any cigars blend, Trinidad cigars are steep in mystery!
This brand bears the name of the property of the best Cuban tobacco grower, Don Alejandro Robaina, whose family of tobacco growers set up in the tobacco region of San Luis during the middle of the last century. The San Luis area has the finest tobacco plantations and wrapper tobacco of the Vuelta Abajo region.
Don Alejandro's father, Maruto Robaina, was considered the finest tobacco grower in the country. In 1950, upon the death of Maruto Robaina, Don Alejandro took charge of the plantations, which have produced and continue to produce the wrapper used to manufacture Habanos cigars. Approximately 30% of the tobacco exported from Pinar del Rio province uses Vegas Robaina (Robaina Tobacco plantation) wrapper, making the plantation a tobacco legend.
The taste of "Old School" Cuba awaits anybody who indulges in a Vegas Robaina cigar. Traditional, strong flavors are crafted to please afcionados seeking that centuries old cuban taste. Because of their strength, Vegas Robaina cigars are not for beginners.
It is a tradition in the Vuelta Abajo region for the vegueros (farmers) to make their own cigars. Visitors to this part of Pinar del Rio province often want to try these cigars made in the land where the best tobacco in the world is grown. As a result, in 1996, the brand called Vegueros was introduced to the market as a tribute to the countless generations that have cultivated tobacco in Pinar del Rio.
It has a special intensity in its blend that reflects the tastes of the local people. It is made at the 'Francisco Donatien' factory in a sturdy building located in the center of Pinar del Rio city that was built in 1868 and converted into a cigar factory in 1961. All sizes are 'totalmente a mano, tripa larga', totally hand made, long filler.