Panetellas, stogies, coronas, and Cohibas. These are just some of the names associated with the powerful and captivating cigar. Whenever I think of Cuba and its symbols, I always think of Habanos. It’s no coincidence that the famous Cuban cigar gets its name from the City of Havana also spelled as Habana in Spanish. The cigar is known to be present in celebrations and high-profile gatherings, always as a symbol of class. It has also been associated with notables through history and several celebrities in more current times. Follow me on this tour of cigars through history and time!
The origin of the Cuban cigar dates to the times of Christopher Columbus and the conquistadores in the 1400s. When Columbus arrived in the Island of Cuba, he was said to have experienced his first taste of the earlier form of a cigar. Early cigars consisted of rolled tobacco leaves and were called cohibas by the island’s natives. Columbus has been credited with introducing tobacco to Europe.
From olden times to modern times, for those of us who are TV and film buffs, who can forget the first episode of the famous TV show Sex & The City. During the episode, Samantha, played by Kim Cattrall, smokes a cigar and tries to “put the moves” on Mr. Big, played by the very handsome Chris Noth. He immediately tells her that he only smokes Cohibas.
The word Cohiba has Taíno roots, originated by the Tainos who inhabited the Caribbean during the times of the settlement. Cohiba is now a synonym around the world of the premium and well-known brand of Cohiba Cigars. The history of this brand dates back to the 60s when Cohibas were created in Cuba to represent the finest cigars. They were widely used for diplomatic purposes. Cohibas are often described as a luxury brand and offer those who prefer it an exclusive cigar experience. Other famous Cuban cigar brands are Montecristo, Partagas, and Romeo y Julieta, among others.
Just as with fine wine, there are many varietals of cigar brands, shapes, and sizes. The International Habano Festival offers a quick reference guide that is helpful to understand the different kinds. As mentioned in the guide, Cubans refer to the size of the cigar as vitolas. The vitolas can significantly vary in taste, burn time, and length. Some of the most well-known sizes and characteristics are:
Mareva – Considered the most popular size.
Corona – Recommended to “crown” an event or for moments of thoughtful contemplation.
Laguito No. 1 – Also known for their slender and elegant shape as Lancero, they hail from Havana’s El Laguito Factory.
Cañonazo – Also, known as Siglo VI, these are considered the best shape and size for a Habano.
Petit Edmundo – Popularly known by the same name, these cigars are shorter in length and provide the full experience, but in a shorter amount of time.
Edmundo – This cigar is known for its more full girth and good flavor. It takes under an hour to consume.
Julieta No. 2 – From the Romeo y Julieta factory, this cigar can be consumed for over an hour. It was rumored to be similar in size to those cigars favored by Winston Churchill.
Prominente – An excess of an hour is required to smoke this gentle to start cigar, also known as Doble Corona, whose flavor builds over time.
Robusto – This is another type of more concise cigar liked by connoisseurs for the experience it offers in under an hour of burn time.
Pirámide – Also known as Torpedo, this cigar is known to offer advantages noticeable to experienced smokers due to its shape.
Exquisito – Also known as a doble figurado, it was considered to be the original Habano shape. Now, however, this shape is only found in Cuaba Habanos.
Perla – Also known as the Tres Petit Corona (TPC), it is also part of the more compact group of Habanos that offer a great taste to enjoy in under 30 minutes.
Laguito No. 3 – 15 minutes are just about enough to enjoy this cigar, perfect for short breaks.
Variety is the spice of life. While wider vitolas are known to offer a more robust flavor, thinner vitolas offer a sharper taste and shorter burn times. Cigars provide a variety of flavors, ranging from full (Stronger) to light (Crisper). As shared by the Festival del Habano, some examples of these variations include Cohibas, which offer Full, Medium to Full, and Medium categories. Also, Partagás, offering flavor in the Full category.
The Montecristo also offers flavors in the Medium to Full and Medium Categories along with the Romeo y Julieta in the Medium category. These brands can all be found around the world. We should also note the Medium to Full flavored Cuabas, considered a Specialty brand, amongst others.
Cigars have long been associated with success. They are a symbol of wealth, class, and being part of an exclusive group that has access to this status symbol. Cigars have also been associated with words such as expensive and imported. In some cultures, such as the Cuban, cigars are passed by new dads to celebrate the birth of children, but also to announce that a couple is expecting. Cigars are widely used in celebrations. I personally witnessed cigars being gifted during corporate holiday events and then lit in unison by several guests, some even non-smokers, to celebrate a successful year.
Many stars have been known to enjoy a good cigar. Images of Sylvester Stallone, Robert Downey, Jr., Tom Selleck, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, and Rihanna have been shared widely across the media as they enjoy their cigars. Some during times of leisure, others during short interludes, but always with flair and personality. We can also remember George Burns, who lived to 100. He was often featured with a signature cigar in many of his portraits and enjoyed his cigars throughout his life. Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, and George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and even Freud have also been credited with being cigar aficionados through history.
Cigars are synonyms of empowerment and accomplishment. Some iconic movie moments are also remembered for the presence of cigars. Who can forget Francis Ford Coppola in The Godfather enjoying a cigar? Some scenes that still resonate today are from Independence Day, with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum smoking cigars after their defeat of alien invaders on the Fourth of July. We can also remember the poster for the movie The First Wives Club, featuring Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton powerfully holding their cigars after overcoming their marital hurdles.
For those of us who are cigar novices, it’s interesting to learn the almost ceremonial and contemplative aspect of smoking a cigar. Connoisseurs will tell you that you need to trim the cigar, that only special techniques should be employed to light the cigar, and that certain angles should be used to get the best flavor. To understand it in simple terms, let’s look at a brief 101 to light a cigar.
Before lighting a cigar for the first time, it needs to be cut by a sharp device sometimes called a clipper but guillotines, scissors and other sharp objects like knives (not recommended) can be used. When opening a wrapped cigar, you will notice that there is a piece or cap that has been attached to seal the cigar. That is the piece that you will be trimming. The cap is sharply cut to ensure that the cigar doesn’t lose its shape and provides a smooth flavor.
Next, we discuss how to light the cigar. The way to light a cigar can be very involved. However, the best recommendation is to place the tip above the flame, turning it to burn evenly. Only now the cigar is ready to take the first taste and “puff.” The smoke from the cigar should not be inhaled, as it can cause coughing. This is an excellent warning for those of us who are not experts. The time to smoke a full cigar may also vary from half to two hours.
To have the most up close and personal experience with cigars or if you have a loved one who happens to be an aficionado or connoisseur, prepare your bags and plan to visit Cuba and attend the 21st Annual Festival del Habano in Cuba. With the upcoming festival, hundreds are expected to visit Cuba for leisure and business purposes. The event annually hosts a diverse group of guests, from merchants, sellers, and buyers, to aficionados and sometimes even celebrities.
The booking experience to travel to Cuba can be very easy when working with an experienced Cuba travel service such as OnCuba Travel. They take the guesswork out of what you need to travel to Cuba and where to go in Cuba and offer special excursions such as the Cuban Rum, Cigars, and Art Tour to experience some of these authentic Cuban flavors, skilled artists, and artisans. They also offer an immersive five-day Cigar and Rum Tour, with multiple curated experiences for the discerning traveler or cigar and rum lover. It is a great time to travel to Cuba from the USA. Cuba is back!
Also Introducing: Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars Havana Takeover – Cigar Tour
The ladies of Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars have partnered with OnCuba Travel to curate a travel experience worthy of the most indulgent cigar aficionado. Join the twins as they embark on an exploration of Cuba’s tobacco region, soak up the sights and sounds of Old Havana, discover treasures inside Cuban cigar shops and factories, sip Cuba’s finest rum, and enjoy the famous authentic Cuban cuisine
Don’t miss this opportunity!
Save the tour date: February 21-25, 2019
***By booking the Cigar & Rum Tour with OnCuba Travel, cigar aficionados will enjoy complete access to The 2019 Habanos Festival for one day.***
On Our Next Blog
Check back with us next week as we continue the flavor tour with the elegant cigar. In our next blog, we will go over delicious pairings of cigars with different drinks and liquors, as well as with some meats and other fine foods to enjoy together. Continue with us on the journey to explore the world of fine cigars and the experiences they offer!