A Brief History of Rare Cigars
If you go to a cigar shop, you are likely to be overwhelmed with options. There are so many different brands and origins that it can be difficult to select a signature cigar. Keep reading to learn more about the rich history of the cigar industry and the international varieties of cigars.
What is a Cigar?
A cigar is filled with dried tobacco leaves and is made to be smoked. Dried Tobacco refers to the undergoing aged process that Tobacco goes through before it becomes Tobacco leaves ready to blend with others and create the final product: a handmade cigar. The tobacco is hung before in the Tobacco Barn to release the natural ammonia it comes with. After this process, the dried tobacco is undergoing another process where the tobacco curation starts. The process before the Cigar gets to the consumer is long. The estimate is that from seed to consumer, around 200 people are involved in the production of a cigar and many years can come by before tobacco leaf is used in the production of a cigar.
Rare Cigars usually undergo a longer aging process and take the best crop of tobacco leaves to be hand-rolled. They become rare because, being a natural product, most of the time production depends on natural weather factors. If the year happened to be rainy, or a Hurricane may destroy the tobacco fields, then, like the wine, that year the tobacco will be harder to produce.
Cigars also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most cigars are basically made of three parts: the filler, the binder leaf, and the wrapper leaf. When ignited these cigars have become a pivotal aspect of Western culture. A signature of Success. A deal maker. A wedding celebration aspect. A newborn celebration. Cigars are considered celebratory in our culture.
Early Beginnings of Cigars
The early roots of the cigar industry have been identified in the Americas. However due to the rise of colonialism and the discovery of the new world, cigars and other tobacco crops quickly became internationally renowned. Today, Cigars are part of the European as well as the United States Culture.
Ancient Mayan Culture
The ancient Mayans would wrap tobacco in palm plantain leaves to smoke it. This is thought to be the original version of the cigar. Archeologists have discovered painted Mayan pottery that shows men smoking these crops.
Colonists and the Explorers
The Western world credits Christopher Columbus for bringing cigars to the international stage. When he first traveled to the New World, he and his crew quickly picked up the habits of the natives.
Native American tribes would smoke tobacco leaves and showed this practice to early settlers. Columbus and his team brought this back to Spain and Portugal, launching the tobacco industry as we know it. Manufacturers in Spain eventually started wrapping dried tobacco in papers so they could more easily mass-produce cigars.
Cigars in the Caribbean
Once locals and settlers discovered how profitable this could be the cigar industry started. Ships carrying tobacco and cigars would sail from Cuba to Europe and Asia to distribute goods. At this time Columbus had claimed Cuba for Spain and developed a monopoly on the tobacco industry.
Cuba's fertile soil and humid climate are perfect growing conditions for this crop. Due to the Cuban Embargo, and because of the fact that Cuban Tobacco is not available in the US, Tobacco growers have managed to recreate Cuban Seed tobacco in fertile regions in the Dominican Republic, Nicaraguan, and Honduras.
To this day Cuban cigars remain internationally recognized and the fertile soils of Nicaraguan, Dominican Republic, and even Honduras have acquired renowned respect worldwide. The tobacco growers, in their attempt to compete with traditional Cuban Tobacco, have gone out of their way to grow a tobacco plant that is very rich and tasty. The quality control, and the love for tobacco, have created a competitive tobacco world grown out of Cuba. Today, we can say, they are succeeding.
Global Variety of Cigars
Although there is a global network of cigar producers, the rarest and most coveted strains of cigars come from the Caribbean. Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Dominican cigars are prominent rare cigars. These rare cigars in the world rule the market because of the rich soil and climate of the region.
The Cuban cigar industry really picked up when the king of Spain relinquished his grasp on the country’s industry. It was between 1818 when free trade began, and 1898, when Cuba gained independence from Spain that the infamous “Cuban cigars” we know today came to be.
Fidel Castro seized control of the Cuban cigar industry and nationalized the Hoyo de Monterrey, Montecristo, Punch, and Hoyo factories. Following Castro’s move to nationalize industry, President John F. Kennedy signed an embargo between Cuba and the United States. This executive act took the Cuban leaf out of the American markets.
Several exiled Cuban cigar families found new places to roll their cigars while others gave up the craft altogether. For example, the Menendez family, who created the Montecristo brand, settled in the Canary Islands and launched the Montecruz cigar.
Dominican Republic's Cigars
With the embargo on Cuba, there was a hole in the market for other cigar industries to fill - chief amongst the new competitors was the Dominican Republic. Much of this success can be attributed to the climate in the DR. Many families from Cuba relocated here and brought the tradition of handmade cigars with them.
The Dominican Republic’s booming cigar industry is incredibly new. In the 1970s free-trade zones opened up in the Dominican Republic, opening up a new market for cigar production. Nearly a decade later, the Dominican Republic became a leader in cigar production. Among others, Arturo Fuente Cigars has gained renown with the "Opus X" wrapper, one that many doubted could be produced in the Dominican Republic. This wrapper is grown in Santiago de Los Caballeros Chateau de La Fuente. The place where the Fuente Family also created a Cigar Family Charitable Foundation, a free school system in the area, that helps to educate children and goes from pre-school to Technical Institute.
Nicaraguan cigars are some of the best cigars in the world. They are incredibly tasteful and distinct to smoke. Due to the region’s nutrient-rich volcanic soil, Nicaragua produces some of the most diverse cigar blends in the world.
The cigar market in Nicaragua was ignited in 1963 under the “Habano Tobacco Program”. Under the program, Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza finances Cuban families to build up a cigar industry in the nation. But the proliferation of the Tobacco industry in Nicaragua has gone several faces. The Sandinista Revolution took away slowed down the process to then, most recently, explode into the world of tobacco that is now Nicaragua.
Arturo Fuente Nicaraguan is the latest factory opening in the region. A Tobacco Complex from seed to cigars that will give the native a means of jobs and education. Arturo Fuente Nicaragua is replicating the social program they have in the Dominican Republic CFCF.
An Industry Reborn
Cigar smoke fills the air of every city in the United States. As a result, it grew more common for small cigar shops and factories to pop up across the country. The American Market being the smartest one. Cigar smokers in the USA are dedicated to learning about tobacco. They love to taste different blends. They like to visit the factories in the Cigar Factory Tours cigar manufacturers do every year. Sometimes, at the cigar events, they would raffle a ticket to visit the factory or cigar lovers can simply arrange a tour with their neighborhood cigar shop! It is pretty cool and a full learning experience.
Cigars first dropped in popularity during the 1920s when the cigarette industry took over. This competition took place during the rising industry so most American cigars were produced by machines. The lingering remnants of the handmade craft of cigar rolling were isolated to Florida.
The American cigar industry began plummeting after the mid-1960s. According to the United States Department of Agriculture cigar consumption and production had dropped by 66% over the course of 30 years. To be reborn during 1990. This episode is known as the Cigar Boom in the story of America. The boom, with many Cuban Families rebuilding the Tobacco Industry, brought many old Cuban Blends to be reborn in the Miami area. Just to name a few, Ernesto Perez Carrillo with La Gloria Cubana; Don Pepin Garcia with Vegas Cubanas, and now My Father Cigars.
Although some detractors of the tobacco tradition, believe the cigar is a dying industry, it has overcome many challenges and remains a staple of the American tobacco industry. Since the onslaught of multiple embargoes against cigar manufacturing countries, the cigar industry has bounced back. Now you can find a wide variety of rare cigars online and many small businesses "Cigar Shops" across the country where consumers network with one another. The market is yet to see. As a cigar smoker lover: Cuenca Cigars is one of the most known and visited places by consumers around the world.
Appreciate Rare Cigars
If you enjoy an international variety of rare cigars, you should learn to appreciate their rich history and even richer composition. Brands have spent years refining their tobacco leaf blends and perfecting their products so that a single stick can embody the centuries-long history of cigars.
Browse our selection if you are interested in investing in rare cigars and appreciating the history of the industry.