Cuba’s most famous and iconic export has a luxurious reputation and rich history. The Cuban cigar is one of the country’s most profitable exports and is arguably one of the most highly-regarded tobacco products in the world.
The first origins of the prestigious Cuban cigar were in 1492, when Christopher Columbus landed on the Caribbean island and met the indigenous Tainos Indians. They smoked tobacco wrapped in palm leaves and plantain and gave the cigars to the sailors as gifts. They became increasingly popular, and over time the cigar trade developed between Cuba and Europe. Tobacco was particularly favoured by the Spanish, who attempted to make their own cigars, but the Caribbean was the perfect climate for growing high-quality tobacco.
As the processes for developing and fermenting the tobacco leaf developed, the taste of the cigars began to improve. From then on, the cigar making industry began to thrive in Cuba, manufacturers invested in the production and the tobacco could now be rolled and packaged ready for sale. Ever since, Cuba has had the edge on the cigar trade. The cigars became a symbol of opulence and luxury in countries outside of Cuba due to the significant expense of the taxes on importing them, and their quality ensured smokers didn’t look elsewhere. Any seasoned cigar smoker can instantly tell the difference between a standard cigar and a Cuban.
Famous figures such as Fidel Castro and J F Kennedy have made the appeal of the Cuban cigar even more enticing; rumour has it the US president secured 1,200 boxes of H. Upmann Petit Coronas before the trade embargo was enforced in 1960. The US was banned from receiving Cuban exports for over 50 years, a law only recently revoked by Barack Obama. In this period, American’s had to smuggle Cuban cigars into the country; something which only added to their desirability.
Although they are smoked all over the world, it is a truth universally acknowledged that Cuban cigars are best enjoyed in Cuba itself. The choice to indulge in tobacco products is very much down to the individual and should not be pushed, but if you plan to try a Cuban cigar on your trip, sitting in an exclusive cigar lounge in heady Havana with a glass of Cuban rum accompanied by the salsa rhythms of the streets is the perfect time to indulge. There are many different brands and flavours, so if you’re unsure of which one to go for, ask an expert who will be able to point you in the right direction. Take it slowly and make sure you really relish the exquisite aromas and flavours.