The origin of Brand names is primarily informational, though the political undercurrents, and reasons for their names, can be considered 'high-end' trivia. For example, the Spanish Government, until recently, refused to allow the sale of the Bolivar brand. Likewise, certain Brands reflect the cigar tastes of a country, such as France, and the Quai d'Orsay.
BELINDA: Since mid nineteenth century the art of decorating the boxes of Habanos by printing had an upswing. Ever since, tobacco entrepreneurs managed to obtain increasingly beautiful embellishment details in a sort of stubborn determination finally won by Francisco Menéndez, the Spaniard who created La Belinda brand in 1882.ã€€
Although it has history as a much-appreciated Cuban brand started in 1882, the full-flavored Belinda was re-introduced by Cubatabaco as a machine-made cigar, in 1987, aimed primarily at the Eastern European market, with whom Cuba had strong trade relations at the time. This explains the small size of the range, which are totally machine-made, or machine-bunched with a hand-rolled wrapper.ã€€
BOLIVAR: In 1901, the Rocha Cuban Cigar Company began producing this outstanding brand – the Bolivar. Named after the infamous General, the Bolivar cigar is often compared to the character of the great General himself – strong, powerful and robust in every way. Today, Bolivar cigars are thought to be amongst the strongest, most full-bodied cigars produced in Cuba. The Bolivar cigar is not for the beginner; it’s distinctively strong flavor and robust nature draw mostly seasoned Havana aficionados. Oddly, at one time the Rocha Bolivar was famous for offering the world's smallest Cuban cigar, the Delgado, measuring only 1 7/8ths x 20. It is said that the royal nursery at Windsor Castle once housed a spectacular dollhouse complete with a miniature box of Bolivar Delgado cigars in residence.ã€€
Simon Bolivar was known as "The Liberator". He organized and led military forces to free the northern portion of South America from Spanish rule. His direct action resulted in independence for Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. It is of little wonder, then, why the Spanish Government declined to allow this Brand to be sold in Spain, for nearly 100 years.ã€€
CABANAS: It is the Spaniard, Francisco Cabañas, who should take the credit of history for having registered in Cuba one of the oldest Habano marks heard of, and also when the Tobacco Monopoly was still in force. Thus, he registered the Cabañas brand 1810.ã€€
In today's version, marked for trade to Eastern Europe, this brand exhibits full flavored inall-machine-made or machine-bunched with a hand-finished style.ã€€
COHIBA: In 1492, during Columbus' first voyage to the "new world", he visited the island of Cuba. Legend has it that his sailors were introduced to "Cohiba" by the island natives, a bunch of dried leaves that were smoked in a pipe called a "Tobacco". In 1982, three types of Cohiba Cuban cigars were introduced to non-diplomats: the Lanceros, the Coronas Especiales and the Panatelas. Three more vitolas were added to the brand in 1989: the Espléndidos, the Robustos and the Exquisitos, completing what is known as "La Línea Clasica". Five more vitolas were added in 1992 creating the "Linea 1492": the Siglo I, II, III, IV and V. Cohiba remains the "King of the Cubans". Only the finest tobacco leaves are used to create the various types of Cohiba cigars.ã€€
CUABA: First introduced in London in 1996, the Cuaba brand was the first new Cuban cigar brand to be introduced into commercial production since 1968. Historically, Cuaba is the Taino Indian word for the special Cuban bush used to light the "Cohiba" or "Tobacco" on the Island. All four of the Cuaba vitolas are in the figurado (perfecto) shape: the Exclusivos, the Generosos, the Tradicionales and the Divinos. This shape was popular until the beginning of the 20th century. Habanos S.A. decided to revive the British tradition of smoking figurados; hence the fitting unveiling of the brand in London, England.ã€€
DIPLOMATICOS: Introduced in 1966, the Diplomaticos Cuban cigar brand is often compared to the popular Montecristo vitolas; the brand was originally introduced as a "less expensive" Montecristo. However, the Diplomaticos brand of Cuban cigar soon broke away from this limiting comparison due to its special blending fine tobacco. Cigar connoisseurs worldwide savor it's unique, rich and flavorful taste and now covet this fine brand. The Diplomaticos brand is another of the great Cuban brands introduced during the 1960’s.ã€€
EL REY DEL MUNDO: Introduced in 1842 by the Antonio Allones factory, the El Rey del Mundo brand was launched under the name "The King of the World". An extremely high quality cigar, "The King of the World" cigar enjoyed great success during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Soon, the company and the brand were renamed "El Rey del Mundo". One of the classic Cuban cigars, they are a mixture of fine tobaccos and a rich aroma. In the mid 20th century, the El Rey brand was one of the most expensive Havana cigars on the market. The brand’s medium-bodied flavor and a distinctively exquisite aroma, make this a great cigar for smokers of all levels of experience, and for any time day or night.ã€€
GISPERT: The cigar was created in 1940 by Simón Veja Peláez, and is produced from tobacco grown in the Vuelta Arriba region. The cigars are full bodied. ã€€
RAFAEL GONZALEZ: When one examines the Flor de Rafael Gonzalez box, the following statement can still be found: "These cigars have been manufactured from a secret blend of pure Vuelta Abajo tobaccos selected by the Marquez Rafael Gonzalez, Grande of Spain." This "secret blend" has been pleasing cigar smokers worldwide for over 20 years. To truly appreciate this brand's exquisite fragrance and outstanding smoke, it is recommended that the cigars be smoked within one month of their shipping date, or smoked only after being aged for about a year. Made in the famous Romeo y Julieta factory, these moderately priced cigars are among the best cigars available regardless of the price. The brand is particularly well-known to serious cigar smokers. The Flor de Rafael Gonzalez Cuban cigars are among the mildest of the Havana cigars.ã€€
FONSECA: An exquisite cigar, the Fonseca brand is the only Cuban cigar brand that offers it’s cigars wrapped in extremely delicate, almost transparent paper. It is thought that this wrapping helps the cigar maintain an optimal humidity level. The wrapper also protects the cigar from becoming damaged. Cigar aficionados love the unique appearance of the Fonseca cigars. The Spaniard Don Francisco Fonseca first registered the Fonseca trademark in 1907. Early in the 20th century, the Fonseca Cuban cigar was manufactured in several different Havana cigar factories. Fonseca Cuban cigars are now produced in Quivicán, a small town in the province of Havana.ã€€
GUANTANAMERA: The cigarettes its name comes from a song titled "Guajira Guantanamera", written in 1928 by Cuban signer and songwriter Joseíto Fernández and gained fame during the 1940s.ã€€
The new brand differs from the traditional Habanos both in its product design and its commercialization: the cigars are manufactured in a modern facility belonging to the Cuban tobacco industry, ICT, using blends of leaves from Vuelta Arriba, the second most important tobacco-growing region in Cuba. "Guantanameras" are mild flavored cigars. With an original presentation, rigid packs and packs of 5 and 10 units, the new brand comes in four vitolas: puritos, compay, decimos, and cristales. The new cigars are cellophaned,supposedly allowing for better preservation. Tips are already cut to facilitate lighting!ã€€
H. UPMANN: These mild to medium bodied cigars have a very smooth and subtle flavor that has been its hallmark since its introduction in 1844. A great favorite among aficionados, the history of this brand began around 1840, when Herman Upmann, banker and almost fanatical cigar enthusiast, offered to open a branch of his family-owned bank in Havana Cuba. In 1844, he invested in a cigar factory, and from then until 1922, the company traded as both a bank and a cigar business! In that year, both companies failed, and a British firm, J. Frankau & Co. (now Hunters & Frankau), saved the brand and ran the cigar factory until 1935. It was then sold to the newly-founded Menendez y Garcia Company. And so it was that a legend was re-born. Characteristically, Upmann offer asmooth, subtle, mild to medium smoke. These cigars are great for beginners, but appeal to the day-time tastes of seasoned connoisseurs. Their larger sizes are among the most rare and sought-after cigars in the world.ã€€
HOYO DE MONTERREY: Jose Gener, originally a leaf grower and eventually the founder of one of the greatest Cuban cigars factories in Cuba, began producing the great Hoyo de Monterrey brand in 1960. The "Le Hoyo" series was added to the commercial cigar market in the mid-seventies. The name translates roughly as "the valley of Monterrey", which is a particularly fertile area of land in the "Vuelta Abajo" area of South west Cuba. Gener farmed in this valley for many years during the late 1800’s. Known to all cigar connoisseurs due to its distinctive flavor, silky richness and complexity of taste, the Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona is perhaps the most sought after and coveted Cuban cigar made. It has continually received some of the highest ratings, in several cigar magazines. The marque is produced in seven factories.
JUAN LOPEZ: In 1876, Juan López Sena created the Juan Lopez brand; in 1908, the Brand was transferred to his heirs, and was then sold to the Sociedad C. Del Peso y Cía., in 1918. Juan Lopez is one of the few Cuban cigars that is only made by hand. Although offered in a limited number of styles, it is said to be one of the best handmade Havana cigars produced. Medium in flavor, this cigar is attractive to all Cuban cigar smokers.
LA GLORIA CUBANA: The La Gloria Cubana-"the Glory of Cuba" brand, introduced in1885, is one of the oldest Cuban brands. Made only by hand, the La Gloria is available in a variety of mostly long, lanky sizes. Developed by Jose Rocha and Rafael Garcia, the brand got off to a good start thanks to tireless promotion by Pepin Fernandez, owner of the Romeo y Julieta brand, who helped his friends introduce the La Gloria Cubana and El Crepusculo brands overseas.
MONTECRISTO: Distributed widely throughout the world, sold originally by Dunhill New York, the Montecristo brand cigar currently accounts for almost 50% of all Cuban cigars exported each year, making the Montecristo the most popular Havana cigar in the world. The Montecristo was originally branded in 1935 under the name "The H. Upmann Montecristo Selection". When appointed the British distribution agent, the John Hunter firm shortened the brand’s name to Montecristo. The John Hunter firm also redesigned the brand’s logo to its distinctive red and yellow box with the triangular crossed swords. These delicious, full-flavored cigars are highly recognizable to the palate due to their unique tobacco blend, and their highly distinctive flavor. The Montecristo brand is also highly popular as the result of its exceptionally consistent quality.
PARTAGAS: Partagas cigars, branded in 1845 by Don Jaime Partagas, is one of the oldest and most well-known of all Cuban cigar brands. The brand is produced in huge quantities in many varieties; being one of the truly great, old Havana brands, the demand for Partagas cigars continues to outweigh the supply of the cigars. All of the Partagas vitolas are full, rich, with earthy flavors. The Partagas brand is also 'strong', making it a cigar of choice for more serious smokers. There is nothing quite as relaxing as lighting up a famous Partagas Lusitanias after a heavy meal. As the Partagas brand is consistently outstanding, most Partagas cigars are relatively expensive, particularly the Lusitanias. Partagas cigars won Gold Medals in at least 3 International Expositions held in Paris in1867, 1878 and 1898. In 1998 Partagas cigars were being produced in eleven different Cuban cigar factories.
JOSE L PIEDRA: Vicente and José Lamadrid Piedra created the José L. Piedra as a commercial brand in 1880. Their cigar factory was at Calle Máximo Gómez No. 5 in Remedios, in the tobacco-growing area of Vuelta Arriba, in what is now Sancti Spíritus Province. After the Cuban Revolution, the brand was launched very successfully as a product popular among demanding Cuban smokers.
This brand is known for its simple packaging-in cardboard boxes and cellophane-wrapped bunches. It comes in a medium size, with a pleasant aroma and slightly strong and typically Cuban taste.
POR LARRAÑAGA: "There's peace in a Larrañaga, there's calm in Henry Clay" reads the first half of the fifth couplet in The Betrothed, an 1890 poem by the celebrated English writer Rudyard Kipling. The Por Larrañaga brand, created in 1834 by Ignacio Larrañaga and Julian Rivera, is the oldest continuously produced Havana cigar still in production. The Por Larrañaga brand is currently available in only one handmade style and a handful of machine-assisted vitolas. The cigar, wrapped in a paper-thin cedar leaf, is a masterpiece.
PUNCH: Established in 1840 and intended for the British market, where a comic book featuring a character named "Mr. Punch" was in fashion, the Punch brand was established by Don Manuel López, owner of the J. Valle y Cía. The comedian "Mr. Punch", who wore an unmistakably sly smile and who always had a cigar in his hand, still adorns the box decoration of these outstanding Cuban cigars. The Punch cigar soon became a Habano of indisputable quality in the marketplace. The tremendous popularity of Punch cigars amongst the British also led Sir Winston Churchill to visit the Monte y Zulueta factory during his stay in Havana; he ended up giving his name to a size of this brand.
QUAI D'ORSAY: Named for the famous bridge in Paris, the brand is one of two (the other is Siboney) which are devoted to the interests of a specific national tobacco governing body, in this case, the Tabacalera. Created in 1970, this is a lighter-bodied cigar and the range is all handmade. All its sizes tend to use light wrappers, a frequent preference in France. The cigars are pleasant, mid strength, solidly constructed, have excellent 'combustibilidad'.
QUINTERO Y HNO: This is one of the few brands of Habanos not born in the Cuban capital; it was registered between 1924 to 1940, by Agustín Quintero, in Cienfuegos, one of the most beautiful and prosperous cities of the southern coast of Cuba. Quinteros himself sorted the best harvests in the plantations of the zone of Remedios, in the central part of the island.
Augustin Quintero and his brothers got their start in tobacco in their hometown of Cienfuegos in the Las Villas province of Cuba in the 1920's. In 1940, they created this full-flavored brand which continues today, primarily in machine-bunched/hand-finished and all machine-made sizes.
RAMON ALLONES: These may not be the best known of the Havana brands, but they areamong the most respected by connoisseurs, consistently ranking at the top of the medium priced Cuban cigar range. Rolled in the Partagas factory, which specializes in full-bodied cigars, these cigars will not disappoint those looking for complex, deep flavors. Characteristics of the brand include silky dark wrappers, excellent construction, perfect burning qualities, a rich flavor and wonderful aroma. For these reasons Ramón Allones vitolas are a firm after-dinner favorite; these cigars age beautifully.
ROMEO Y JULIETA: Founded in 1873, the Romeo Y Julieta brand once printed over 2,000 cigar bands! The "Romeos" are one of the most well-known and popular of all of the Havana brands. Over 40 shapes and sizes are produced under this brand, some of which are considered the very best in their size. Romeo y Julieta cigars have won Gold Medals worldwide, for both taste and quality. With so many different sizes and so much pressure on production due to worldwide demand, it is especially impressive that the entire brand continues to be appreciated as one of absolutely top quality. Of particular repute are the Churchill sizes. The brand is also 'credited' with introducing the "Churchill" shaped cigar, in honor of the British Prime Minister (some claim the Vitola de Galera was named after Churchill after his visit to the Punch factory).
SAN CRISTOBAL DE LA HABANA: Launched in 1996, it was given the original name of the city of Havana, when it was founded by settlers back in 1519, "San Cristóbal (St. Christopher) de La Habana. The brand boasts 4 sizes, each of which is named after one of the Forts that defended the city in its heyday, as the hub of the Spanish empire in Latin America.
SAINT LUIS REY: Created in the mid 1950's by two British importers, these outstanding cigars enjoy a loyal following. Initially, only 60,000 cigars were produced each year, and they are among the very best Havanas available on the market. Special characteristics of the brand include their oily, dark, smooth wrappers, a very full bodied, highly-refined flavor, and superb aroma.
SANCHO PANZA: First produced in 1852, the Sancho Panza is a uniquely delicate, subtlecigar. These elegant cigars are among the most consistently well-made Cuban cigars manufactured today. These cigars are well suited to the occasional, beginner, or daytime smoker. All the sizes are mild, with some of the larger sizes being among the mildest in their category. The brand is well known for its enormous "A" size Sanchos and its consistently delightful Belicosos.
LOS STATOS DE LUXE: Possible clues which could have probably led to the origin of this brand have faded, so its birth is but a riddle. There are versions that it was registered in the Cuban capital city in early twentieth century by a Central European businessman, probably a Hungarian. Others link its origin to a Spaniard whose surname was Martínez.
Both versions stand on true-to-life foundations. Certainly, its attractive embellishment abounds with details such as the eagle with features and ornamentations of the most traditional and aristocratic heraldry in Central Europe. However, the embellishment records Martínez, Hno. y Cía, as the brand manufacturers.
TRINIDAD: From 1980, the Trinidad Fundadores was produced exclusively for President Fidel Castro, as gifts to foreign diplomats; in February 1998, the brand was officially launched as an export, in Trinidad, Cuba. The cigars were first made available in Canada and Mexico in April 1998, and later became available to the world market. This line now features four sizes. The Fundadores, which means Founder, is similar in size to theCohiba Lanceros. Named after one of Cuba's most beautiful cities, the Trinidad is produced only in the El Laguito factory, and is packaged in an 'unusual' quantity of 24 cigars as well as in cabinets of 50.
TROYA: The brand was registered in 1932 by Martínez & Co., located at 2000 Real Street, in Marianao, Havana. Its brand image stands out as one of the gems of Cuban lithography. This is an old brand which today displays the origins of its name in the lithography on its boxes, picturing an idealized warrior from the Trojan Wars as described by Homer in the Iliad. Originally produced by Martinez y Cia., the cigar is considered full-flavored and is now offered only as a machine-bunched/hand-finished or all-machine-made brand.
VEGAS ROBAINA: This brand bears the name of the property of the best Cuban tobacco grower, Don Alejandro Robaina, whose family of tobacco growers set up in the tobacco region of San Luis during the middle of the last century. The San Luis area has the finest tobacco plantations and wrapper tobacco of the Vuelta Abajo region. Don Alejandro’s father, Maruto Robaina, was considered the finest tobacco grower in the country. In 1950, upon the death of Maruto Robaina, Don Alejandro took charge of the plantations, which have produced, and continue to produce, the best wrapper used to manufacture Habanos cigars. Approximately 40% of the tobacco exported from Pinar del Rio province uses Robaina Tobacco plantation wrapper.