The History of Romeo y Julieta

September 15, 2015

“Two households both alike in dignity, in far Verona, where we lay our scene”…we all know the beginning to Shakespeare’s most famous theatrical work.  The tale of two star-crossed lovers has been entered in the annals of literary history for more than 500 years and continues to rivet audiences today.  When it comes to the history of cigars however, the name of Romeo & Juliet carries a very different meaning.  It is regarded among cigar smokers world wide as one of the finest cigars in production.  While the Cuban version has always been in high demand due to its quality and status, its Dominican version is one of the most purchased cigars in the United States.  Now while Romeo & Juliet began its history in the Globe Theater in London, Romeo y Julieta began on that very popular island in the Caribbean.

The brand formerly began in Cuba in 1875 by two men, Inocencio Alvarez and Manin Garcia.  Even in its early years, the brand became highly respected and quite popular.  The brand’s logo even today shows the many tasting medals it won at various contests and exhibitions over the years.  The brand really blossomed after it was bought out in 1903 by a very cultured businessman named Jose Rodriguez Fernandez.  He was quite the cosmopolitan and was a frequent traveller to Europe.  He would entertain some of the continent’s most cultured and respected citizens.  He would actively promote his brand among the high society and even entered his horse, Julieta, into several prominent races.

This cultural marketing campaign saw the rise of a brand that was smoked by the cultured and educated.  Since the turn of the century, the Romeo y Julieta brand is still seen as an aficionado’s choice.  They were the favored cigars of the great Winston Churchill.  His endorsement of the cigar did so well for the brand, they eventually named a signature size after him, a size that is still their frontmark – the Churchill.  This was a cigar for the boutique smoker, the luxury smoker, and the elegant smoker.

All seemed to be going well for the brand until, like many cigar manufacturers, political unrest forever changed its history.  Following the Cuban revolution and the nationalization of the cigar industry, the brand was moved to its current location in La Romana, Dominican Republic.  There, at the famed Tabacalera de Garcia factory, Altadis USA produces the ever-so-popular Dominican version of the cigar.  It is without a doubt one of the most popular cigars on the American market and can be found in every brick and mortar store.  Cuba still maintains the rights to the Cuban version and continues to produce them to this day.  It still maintains its very established reputation with the cigar smokers of the world.  Even with the separation of the two brands and the recent news of the ending of the embargo, it does not change the fact that any cigar right now with a Romeo y Julieta band is of the highest quality and has earned the highest respect.

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