When you're smoking a Cuban cigar, the wrapper could be any one of a whole list of tobaccos and shades. These different cigar wrapper types all make an appearance on sticks labeled as Cuban cigars. In fact, not all 'Cuban' cigars are even made in Cuba, as the name is sometimes applied to cigars manufactured elsewhere, but in the spirit of the old Cuban factories.
This wasn't always the case. Until the 1990s, one of the main Cuban cigar wrapper types was Corojo. But pure Corojo was susceptible to disease and, since the turn of the Millennium, Corojo hybrids have been used. This brought an end to over half a century of Corojo dominance over Cubans, and there is now much more variety. Bad news for Cuban purists, but good news for cigar smokers who like to explore new options!
What are Cuban cigar wrappers?
It's sometimes easier to think of Cuban cigar wrappers not as cigar wrappers from Cuba, but as cigar wrappers made in the Cuban style. The actual tobacco variety, shade, and aging method may vary, but the finished stick aims to uphold the classic commitments to quality and artisanship that made Cuban cigars so popular in the early to the mid-20th century.
That artistry spread to countries like Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Peru in the latter decades of the last century, but it has made a resurgence in recent years, with an ever-increasing list of premium cigars proudly displaying their connections with the Cuban factories of the mid-1900s.
Cuban wrapper origins
Cuban tobacco dates back centuries, and when Christopher Columbus sent scouts to Cuba in the late 1400s, they reported the indigenous people to smoke herbs rolled in leaves, essentially a forerunner to the modern cigar. Cuba's climate means the filler, binder, and wrapper can all be grown there, and over the following centuries, Cuban cigars – and Havana cigars in particular – became a status symbol for Europeans who could afford to import them and pay the high taxes on Cuban tobacco.
During the 20th century, Corojo tobacco became the de facto Cuban cigar wrapper type. But as the market became disrupted in the second half of the century, the term 'Cuban cigar' began to be used in a much broader sense. Today, almost every type of tobacco in every shade is used on products labeled as Cuban cigars, including many made in other countries.
Are Cuban cigars illegal?
In 1962 the USA (under President John F Kennedy) placed an embargo on the import of Cuban cigars and stopped recognizing ownership of Cuban tobacco-related trademarks. This watered down the market significantly, allowing manufacturers in other countries to call their products Cuban, while also introducing copycat versions of some of the biggest brands.
President Barack Obama relaxed the embargo to allow US citizens to bring up to $100 of Cuban cigars into the country and then, in 2016, removed this limit entirely. However, his successor President Donald Trump tightened the rules again and, as of 2020, Americans are not allowed to bring any Cuban tobacco, cigars, or rum into the country directly from Cuba, or from Mexico, Canada, and the UK.
Making Cuban cigars
Cuban cigars – whether made in Cuba or elsewhere – uphold certain traditions and standards. The name is a mark of quality and is often applied to premium handmade cigars and small-batch boutique cigars. Customers should expect a tight, seamless roll, with filler tobaccos packed just right, voluminous smoke production, and an even burn line throughout.
The term 'Cuban cigars' is not regulated, and so it is not a guarantee. However, there are certain brands that have become synonymous with Cuban cigars, and when you buy cigars from these studios you can feel more confident in the quality they will deliver.
Popular Cuban cigars
Some of the most popular Cuban cigar brands in stock at Casa de Montecristo stores include:
Formerly one of the biggest brands of Cuban cigars, Cohiba Cigars are now handmade in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, working around the US embargo. The original Cohiba factory was started by Fidel Castro himself, to allow his favorite local cigar roller to produce a steady supply for Castro and his generals.
H. Upmann Cigars
H. Upmann Cigars launched way back in 1844, after German brothers Hermann and August Upmann moved to Havana. Their small cigar factory soon became a respected brand, and that brand – now outputting handmade cigars from the Dominican Republic – became a celebrated heritage producer of pre-embargo Cuban cigars.
Our namesake, and one of the most celebrated brands of Cuban varieties, Montecristo Cigars are among the most elegant on the market, with a company history dating back to 1935 before the embargo was placed.
Romeo y Julieta Cigars
The romantically named Romeo y Julieta Cigars is of course named after Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers. Launched in 1875, the brand's own fate was considerably brighter, moving to the Dominican Republic after the Cuban embargo, but still adhering to its heritage and the highest standards of Cuban-style handmade cigars.
These and many other Cuban-style cigars are in stock and ready to order from Casa de Montecristo. Place your order today and experience what those historic Cuban master tobacconists handed down to future generations.