The Jamaican tobacco industry owes its growth and fame to the Second World War and all of the cigar-loving smokers from Great Britain, including Sir Winston himself. With the United Kingdom mired in war, currency was at a premium and had to remain within the commonwealth for essential industry, not spent overseas on cigars. Furthermore, most shipping, and trading routes were blocked, so buying cigars from Cuba was no longer an option. Realizing there was a ton of money to be made; many famous Cuban cigar makers moved to the British colony with their tobacco crops, and seeds, and opened many factories. Soon Jamaican versions of Cuban brands appeared–many made entirely with Cuban tobacco, others with Jamaican filler and Cuban wrappers. While the original Havana’s were absent, these fine Jamaican counterparts were the sole source for stogies in the U.K. market.
After the war, Cuban cigars became readily available worldwide, but by now, Jamaica had already developed a reputation as a country that produced outstanding cigars. In addition, these refugee cigar makers moved back to their country, and the Jamaican market quadrupled in production.
Then when the embargo hit, and Cuban cigars were banned in the United States, Jamaican cigars were considered a high quality alternative, soon followed by the Dominican Republic. In the following decades, smokes from Honduras and Nicaragua began filling the void.
Famous brands like Royal Jamaica, and Macanudo, along with other brands such as Crème de Jamaica, Flor de Jamaica, Temple Hall, Palamino, and Jamaican Heritage were very highly regarded. In the 1980’s JR had some great house brands from this country. Many of our JR Alternatives were made in Jamaica, along with one of our oldest and most popular bundled brands now made in the Dominican, the Special Jamaicans Cigars.
This industry continued to thrive until tragedy struck. In September 1988, Hurricane Gilbert slammed into Jamaica at full strength, crippling the nation’s cigar industry. The storm destroyed many factories; most notably those of the most popular brands, Royal Jamaica and Macanudo, who both switched production to the Dominican Republic.
The storm left the Country financially crippled, so they chose the quickest path to recovery by rebuilding the tourist industry. It takes many years and a lot of hard work to rebuild a single plantation, let alone fifty or sixty. Therefore, for many years, aside from a handful of growers outside of Kingston, the Jamaican cigar manufacturing remained dormant.
Today, while still rebuilding, Jamaica is making a steady comeback. In the last few years some great brands, most notably Macanudo, has returned to its roots with the Macanudo Estate Reserve Jamaica
This much-anticipated release captures all of the silky smooth, sweet spice flavor, and tantalizing aroma of the original blend. This may just be the beginning of a new renaissance for Jamaica, as many notable manufacturers have plans to release new products from this legendary growing region.