History of Cohiba

September 11, 2015

The island of Cuba has long been the considered the “El Dorado” of tobacco.  It is almost a mythical place, where the tobacco fields stretch as far as the eye can see, and the Havana Club rum flows like water.  Cuban cigars have long been seen as the pinnacle of luxury, class, and quality.   Out of the many fine cigars that are rolled on this small island, there has been one that is considered of the highest quality and remains the most sought after in the world, Cohiba.  With all the great cigars in Cuba and their storied histories, Cohiba is actually considered one of the youngest. Yet in that short time is has risen to become the premium cigar of note.

This history of this cigar does not begin, like many others, in the tobacco fields during the 19th century.  Yet it begins in the presidential home of Fidel Castro in the mid 1960s.  A local cigar roller had been supplying Castro’s bodyguard with some of his home rolled cigars.  The guard in turn shared these cigars with the President and spoke very highly of the local roller.  Castro was so taken aback by the quality and taste of the cigar; he visited the local man and set him up in his own factory (The El Laguito Factory) to produce these cigars simply for him and other top government officials.  It was in this factory that the first lanceros size was produced, specifically under the specifications of Fidel Castro.

In 1968, the state sponsored Cubatobaco formerly launched the brand.  Cohiba comes from the ancient Taino word for tobacco.  These cigars were to be produced on a limited scale and to be of higher quality than any other Cuban.  What was strange about the Cohiba brand is that is was formed after the Cuban Revolution, making it one of the only Cuban cigars that didn’t suffer from the loss of the American market and earned its merit in mainly the European and Asian markets.  In the early 1980s, Cuba really made a push to make Cohiba a full production line, making it more readily available in the world’s cigar stores.  From there its legacy continued to grow.

With Cohiba being completely under Cuban control with no immediate copyright or trademark problems, in 1978, the name was taken by General Cigar and registered for distribution in the United States.  Calling them the Red Dot Cohibas and using exclusively Dominican tobacco.  The brand became immensely popular during the boom of the 1990s and remains a top of the line Dominican cigar even to this day.  There has been an ongoing court dispute between these two companies that is now becoming more and more relevant as the embargo seems to be drawing to an end.  I am not one to get into the middle of such a dispute; I’m just here for some fine smokes.  With that in mind whether you’re smoking a mild and delicious Dominican or the robust and flavorful Cuban, these are two cigars that are a must have for your humidor.

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