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Rich History of Cigars

​​By: David Fisher

The CIGAR.com Luxury Collection includes premium handmade cigars originating from Cuba, Jamaica, the Canary Islands, Costa Rica, and more. Featuring select items from our collection, this timeline will provide some insight into the cigar landscape from the golden age of cigars to current day.

The Golden Age of Cigars (1800s-1930s) — La Palina c.1926
With popular Cuban brands like Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, and H. Upmann to pre-Revolution Clear Havanas, Cuban tobacco reigned supreme throughout the Golden Age. The heyday of the cigar industry saw many smaller, local tobacco shops rolling their own cigars in-house from imported Cuban tobaccos. Some popular larger premium cigar brands during this time were La Corona and Justin Suebert. The cigars we have in inventory from this period have nearly a century of age on them and are nearly extinct. The original La Palina’s from the 1920s are one of the finest specimens within the CIGAR.com Luxury Collection. Created around the turn of the 20th century by Samuel Paley, father of CBS founder William S. Paley, the La Palina brand is deep-seated in the history of radio advertising. To promote his family’s cigar business, William S. Paley sponsored a radio show in Philadelphia called “The La Palina Hour,” boosting the brand so successfully La Palina quickly became one of America’s highest selling premium cigars.

The Rise of Clear Havana’s (1930s-1962) — La Prosa c.1946
Cigar manufacturing was a paramount industry in the United States for the first half of the 20th century. Clear Havana was a blanket term for any cigar made in the United States with Cuban filler and binder. Dominating the US premium cigar market up until the Cuban embargo, Clear Havanas were a less expensive option than the importation of true Havanas produced in Cuba. One favorite among American cigar enthusiasts throughout the 1940s was La Prosa, a Clear Havana made in Ohio. Another popular choice was Consuegra, manufactured in Tampa, Florida. Within our Luxury Collection you’ll find Consuegra Elites from just a year prior to the Cuban Embargo. This relic is a blend of US and pre-Cuban Embargo vintage tobaccos. If you’re looking for a genuine, vintage Clear Havana that won’t break the bank, check out the Clear Havana Throw Outs c.1961. While the name may sound questionable, these are anything but.

The Cuban Embargo (1960)
In 1960, the Cuban cigar industry nationalized and the following year the Cohiba brand was created for Fidel Castro and other high-ranking government officials and diplomats. CUBATABACO was formed in 1962, greatly limiting the amount of Cuban brands available to the international market. The very same year the US Embargo against Cuba led to many great Cuban cigar makers relocating to other tobacco growing regions around the world. Popular destinations include Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, and the Canary Islands. Since cigar companies in the US could no longer get their hands on Cuban tobaccos, inventories depleted in just a few years following the embargo and Clear Havanas ceased to exist.

The Post Embargo Landscape (1962-1980s) — Don Diego c.1970
This period in cigar history saw a rise in large-scale cigar companies and a decline in the smaller factories. Large cigar conglomerates from the US were now importing cigars mainly from Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and the Canary Islands. Some US factories continued production, however. The Villazon family in Tampa, Florida took Honduran binder and filler tobaccos and crafted Hoyo de Monterrey Governors c.1965-1968, marking a new beginning in the US premium cigar market. Another area exporting cigars was Europe, with one of the first brands to be created following the Cuban Revolution was Dunhill Montecruz. In our Luxury Collection you’ll find six different vitolas of Montecruz, all crafted in Spain in the 1970s. Many of the classic, pre-revolution Cuban brands were reborn elsewhere during the Post-Embargo period. One such brand was El Rey del Mundo, which was crafted by the first tobacco factory in Honduras.

The Boom Era (1990s) — Partagas 150 Don Ramon
Cigar sales and imports sky-rocketed during the US cigar boom of the mid-1990s. The rise in cigar consumption was further accelerated by the debut of Cigar Aficionado magazine in 1992. Many smaller boutique cigar makers fell short of meeting this demand and even Macanudo, dubbed “America’s best-selling cigar,” found itself sold out at times. Despite shortages there a few notable brands that made their debut during the cigar boom including Rocky Patel, Oliva, and Perdomo. The main cigar production was now the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Honduras. One of the most sought after cigars during this period was Partagas 150 Don Ramon. Released only once in 1995 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Partagas, these cigars feature an authentic 1977 Cameroon wrapper that was aged in Spain; a wrapper you simply won’t find on another cigar. The Partagas 150 changed the face of the cigar industry forever and are now almost exclusively owned by private collectors. We’re honored to have these cigars from the original 1995 release, carefully stored in our Luxury Collection humidor.

Current Day — Padrón 50th Anniversary Humidor
Despite growing concerns over FDA regulations, rising taxes, and a decline in cigar friendly venues across the nation, the cigar industry has seen a steady growth following the end of the 1990s cigar boom bust. There’s no denying that some of the finest tobaccos that have ever been grown are coming from top manufacturers in places like Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. Others are gearing up for a day when Cuban tobacco can once again be sold in the United States. Today’s cigar landscape in the US has seen a shift in connoisseurs flocking towards more full-flavored blends which include tobaccos primarily from Nicaragua. One prime example is Padrón 50th Anniversary. Available in either natural or maduro, the tobaccos in these Nicaraguan puros have been aged for 10 years. To celebrate the ultra-premium cigar company’s 50th anniversary, the cigars are then presented in one of the most stunning humidors ever created. Items such as Daniel Marshall DM2 Gold Torpedo, Arturo Fuente OpusX, and Davidoff Royal Series cigars continue to carry the torch within the luxury cigar category. If you’re a cigar connoisseur or collector, there is no shortage of rare, super-premium cigars to discover.