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The Oldest Cigar Brands in the World

The very first independent cigar brand established in Cuba was Cabañas, founded by Francisco Cabañas in 1797. Cabañas lasted until 1962 and was discontinued after being nationalized by the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro.

The second oldest is Por Larranaga which was created by Ignacio Larranaga in 1834. Towards the end of the century they were very popular due to being both affordable and expensive. They were also the first factory to make machine made cigars in 1925, this caused a lot of issues with the locals and some workers even boycotted the factory and rebelled against them. By the time of the Cuban revolution Por Larranaga was the 6th biggest Cuban cigar brand. 

Punch is the next oldest cigar company. Don Manuel Lopez of Juan Valle & Co founded it in 1840 with the British market in mind where a humorous magazine of the same name was much in vogue. A clown known as Mr Punch was a popular character for the magazine and is still featured on every box and surrounded by 19th Century images of cigar making that remain virtually unchanged over a century and a half later.

Partagas was launched in 1845 making it the fourth oldest company. Don Jaime Partagás y Ravelo set up his own factory after his long time employment in the Cuban tobacco business. Don Jaime had some of the best tobacco at his disposal due to owning a large amount of the best plantations in Vuelta Abajo, Cuba. Owning such valuable plantations meant that he could choose the finest tobaccos for high quality cigars, making the brand very successful. Don Jaime also experimented with multiple fermenting and ageing processes and was also the first to hire a lector to read to workers in his factory as they rolled cigars.

Romeo y Julieta is probably the most well-known brand of Cuban cigars having been around since 1875. Established by Inocencio Alvarez and Mannin Garcia who took the name from Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Romeo and Juliet. The logo displays a number of gold medals on it which were awarded to the brand over the years of production. Four of them were granted to them between 1885 and 1903 when it was acquired by Jose Rodriguez Fernandez who was the former head of the Cabañas factory in Havana. Romeo y Julieta produce over 40 different shapes and sizes, some are considered the very best of their class. It is also very well known that Sir Winston Churchill was a big fan of Romeo y Julieta cigars, which is why they named a vitola after him.

Written by Oliver Partington