The world of cigars is steeped in history, with some cigar brands having roots that stretch back nearly two centuries. These old-world cigars and the new world smokes they inspired are the heart and soul of today’s cigar industry. Add more flavor to your cigar smoking experience today. Start with a brief look at the history of these cigar brands, and the unique smokes they offer.
A Brief History of Cigars
Archaeological finds tell us tobacco use goes back thousands of years. Yet it wasn’t until Christopher Columbus’s 1492 voyage that cigars made a splash. A crew member, Rodrigo de Xeres, was the first to encounter the Caribbean’s indigenous people. They are smoking rolled-up tobacco leaves through their noses. This discovery was taken back to Spain and dubbed “cigarros,”. It was later shortened to “cigars” as we know it today.
Unfortunately, the Spanish Inquisition deemed smoking an act of heresy and punishable by imprisonment. Despite this, word slowly spread about the strange smoking ritual, and by the 17th Century, tobacco was amongst the most sought-after trade goods in the world.
Manufacturing advancements during the 1800s meant cigar making could be done faster, cheaper, and in greater numbers than ever before. In addition, cigars became the ultimate Gilded Age symbols of status and wealth. Cuban cigars, in particular, developed a reputation as the best in the world. By the 1950s had set the standard for premium handmade cigars.
The rise of Fidel Castro’s regime threatened to undo Cuba’s cigar industry, with the nation’s top cigar experts fleeing abroad. However, many of Cuba’s old-world brands survived and have only grown in stature over the years. Meanwhile, the cigar makers and tobacco gurus who left Cuba after 1959 cleared the way for the “new world” brands found in your favorite cigar shop today.
Old World Cigars vs. New World Cigars
When cigar makers left Cuba and the longtime US trade embargo was put in place, a unique and often confusing problem arose: Cuban and Non-Cuban variants of the same brand appeared. The question of trademarks continues to be hotly debated, with Cohiba and Montecristo being the most famous examples. Nevertheless, this opened the door for a flood of new blends that could break away from the confines of the classic Cuban cigar style.
Initially, old-world cigars were praised for their rich yet balanced character, refinement, and complexity. In comparison, new world cigars were noted for a bigger and bolder, much livelier nature. Yet, with the development of each new tobacco type or cigar blend, the lines are being blurred between old and new world brands.
Old World Cuban Cigar Brands
Many of Cuba’s most recognizable cigar brands emerged out of the 19th Century and maintained a high level of prestige throughout the Castro years and into today. There is no denying the lasting legacy of these old-world Cuban cigar brands. Here are five of the oldest and most famous:
The oldest Cuban cigar brand still in production, Por Larranaga, was unveiled in 1834 and became one of the world’s best-known cigar brands by the 1890s. While neither it nor its non-Cuban cousin is as well-known as it once was, it is still a worthy old-school Cuban-style smoke.
A sentimental favorite for many cigar smokers worldwide, Punch cigars began production in 1840. Honduran-made Punch cigars have equaled the fame of their Cuban counterparts, with the Punch Clasico line being an all-time favorite.
Unveiled in 1844, H. Upmann is one of Cuba’s most prestigious cigar brands. Both Cuban and non-Cuban H. Upmann cigars have long been popular with cigar smokers and continue to garner interest through various modern blends.
The Partagas cigar brand was launched in 1845 and, with smokes such as the famous Serie D, has been a Cuban cigar favorite ever since. Partagas offerings from the Dominican Republic have also achieved legendary status around the globe.
Romeo y Julieta
Founded in 1875, Romeo y Julieta is not among the oldest Cuban cigar brands, yet it ranks as one of the most highly regarded Cuban cigar brands. Non-Cuban varieties made in the Dominican Republic and Honduras are also perennial best-sellers.
Many other Cuban cigar brands have told Cuban history and non-Cuban success stories such as Bolivar, Trinidad, Hoyo de Monterrey, and others. These older cigar brands laid the foundation for the wave of new world 21st Century smokes to come.
New World Cigar Making
With the post-Cuban Revolution exodus of cigar makers, more high-quality cigars began emerging from the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Canary Islands, Mexico, Honduras, Miami and elsewhere. From these locales have come today’s exquisite New World cigar brands.
First appearing in the 1960s, Cohiba bridges the gap between old-world cigars and the new. While Cohiba is the most famous Cuban cigar brand, the non-Cuban Cohiba made for the US market has an equally prestigious reputation as a top-shelf new world cigar.
For over a century, the Newman family has offered favorites from the heart of Tampa’s legendary Ybor City. Each cigar blends old-world character with distinctively modern tastes and complexities from Brickhouse and The American to the super-premium Diamond Crown.
Four generations have brought the Arturo Fuente brand to the pinnacle of new world cigar making. These quintessentially Dominican cigars are amongst the most sought after, from the everyday classic Chateau series to the famous Fuente Fuente Opus X.
My Father Cigars
The Garcia family’s My Father Cigars is leading the charge in new world Nicaraguan cigars inspired by the past. Offerings such as La Antiguedad and Flor de las Antillas resurrect old world cigar brands to deliver classic Cuban character developed for modern cigar smokers.
AJ Fernandez is one of the busiest cigar makers in the business, developing a broad range of new wave cigars, including the aptly named New World series. Fernandez also creates modern takes for many traditional brands, giving new life to famous old-world cigars.
These are just a few of the many New World cigar brands that have ties to the golden age of Cuban cigars. Blending old-world traditions with new world sensibilities make these unique creations some of the world’s most rewarding smokes.
Savor the Best of Both Worlds
Whether golden age cigars or their modern successors, the cigar makers’ keen sense of heritage and dedication to the art of cigar making are at the heart of every great smoke. So, spark up and taste where the past and present meet. Shop Smoke Inn’s Cigar Shop today for all the best old-world and new-world cigars.