The History of the Cuban Cigar

Cigars | Learning Leaf
November 5, 2022

Cuban cigars are rich and flavorful, in both their craftsmanship and history.

Some of the most famous cigar brands in the world originated in Cuba. The Caribbean island nation was the largest producer and exporter of premium cigars, though it’s since been surpassed by other countries like Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, and Honduras. Though many smokers have enjoyed Cuban cigars, few know of the fascinating history of this particular brand of cigar—from its origins, to its evolution over time, to its unique place in culture and politics today. Read on for more information about the iconic Cuban cigar.

The Origin of Cuban Cigars

The history of cigars goes back to 1492, when Christopher Columbus first arrived in Cuba. The natives have been smoking tobacco for several centuries. They referred to the plant as Cohiba. Locals in Colombia rolled the leaves in palm oil or maize before they smoked it, a custom that intrigued Columbus. He brought back a small quantity of tobacco to his homeland of Spain. As it turned out, the Spanish excelled at trading tobacco for cigars. Over time, it became fashionable in every part of the old world and a status symbol.

What Makes Cuban Cigars Unique?

Cuban cigars have an interesting history. Cuba was the first place to have and perfect a premium cigar we all know and love. Cuba’s first cigar factory opened in 1542, and the country remained the premier manufacturer of cigars for the next four centuries. Cuban cigars are made following a tradition that’s been around for centuries and hasn’t changed in over a hundred years. Because maintaining its reputation is essential, the Cuban government strictly regulates the Cuban cigar industry.

Every cigar produced by the factories is checked to ensure that the cigar is of high quality and without fault. There are over 100 steps in a single production cycle of a Cuban cigar. What really sets them apart from other cigars is the care and detail that goes into every single one.

Cigars made from Cuban tobacco produce a strong, authentic smoke, whereas cigars made from blended tobacco produce a smoke with lesser purity. Cuban cigars are meant to be smoked slowly; the experience is important, after all. Their rich flavors and distinctive aromas speak to their unique blend of sun, sea, and soil, making smoking a Cuban cigar a luxurious experience.

Different Types of Cuban Cigars


Cohiba cigars were specially made for Fidel Castro. He would also offer them as gifts to visiting heads of state and dignitaries. It is among the most expensive brands on the market. Though it is now available to the public, its production is highly controlled.


An old and renowned Cuban brand, esteemed for its rich, smooth, earthy flavor and made using tobacco chosen specifically for its richness and intriguing aromas is loved by many enthusiasts.

Romeo y Julieta

If you want to enjoy your new cigar right away, Romeo y Julieta is an excellent choice. Their subtle flavors develop faster, so they’re great for smokers unwilling to wait for tobacco to age.


The brand is popular with people starting out and old smokers who love how the medium tobacco tastes when blended with flavors such as cocoa, coffee, and vanilla.

Hoyo De Monterrey

An aromatic, subtly flavored cigar popular with those who prefer a milder taste, the double Corona is considered one of the best Cuban cigars. But they are no longer as popular as they used to be.

Purchase Cuban Cigars at Turning Leaf

Since they create such a memorable social experience, Cuban cigars are great to enjoy with friends. The history and origins of these cigars will make you appreciate them even more. Whether you’re an aficionado looking for a great place to find Cuban cigars, or a beginner that needs some guidance, Turning Leaf has you covered. Contact us today to inquire about your favorite brands, or stop in one of our nine locations across the Midwest.