Have you ever wondered what the oldest Cuban cigar brand released and thus start the era of elite Cuban Cigars? These items are always sought after and highly appreciated by cigar aficionados from all over the world, so knowing a little of their history would only add to your experience. We’ve chosen three brands which you are surely familiar with, and are glad to carry you back to the day when these cigar legends were “born”.
The oldest from this trio could be legally considered the Por Larranaga cigar brand which was introduced in 1834 by Ignacio Larranaga – a Spanish businessman. The factory has never leaved Havana since then, and only changed the streets it was situated on. Company’s policy has always been aimed at various social layers which made their cigars gain huge popularity in no time. Both people with modest income and those who had more money than one could count, would choose Por Larranaga brand because of the different price range, as well as its exquisite taste and high quality.
Por Larranaga factory was the first to use machine-made cigars in 1925 which significantly reduced the price of its production, and the number of its rollers as well. This innovation resulted in a boycott against the administration of the company soon. Anyway, the cigar brand remained stable till 1980’s and 1990’s when Por Larranaga cigar suddenly slowed down its production being exported to a few countries only. They have even discontinued some of their main vitolas. But in the 21st century the brand made another comeback releasing another two hand-made only formats.
Punch cigar could be considered the youngest brother of Por Larranaga brand because it was created 6 years later and saw its release in 1840. A German named Stockmann was the person to create the cigar and register the brand one year before the famous satirical magazine with the same name was released. However in 1874 the brand moved into Luis Corujo possession, and 10 years later, in 1884, it has passed to another person again and was acquired by Manuel Lopez Fernandez whose name is still present on all Punch cigar bands and boxes.
After Mr Lopez Fernadez’s death, the brand changed its owners for several times more until it was nationalized by Cuban Government after Cuban revolution. But no dramatic changes have ever affected people’s love for this brand. The Punch cigars were and still remain one of the best selling and popular among aficionados, especially in Great Britain. Moreover, one of its new vitola was named after the last name of one of the most powerful prime-ministers in England, Winston Churchill.
Punch cigars are always hand-made, except two machine-made cigarillos – the Cigarritos and Cigarritos Reserva. Another interesting fact about these cigars is that they have never been chosen for a Limited Edition but entered the Edicion Regional for several times already.
Finally, H.Upmann cigar brand takes the third place of our oldest Cuban brands trio, though a little turn to its prehistory is necessary here. In 1840 (the same year as the Punch cigars were released) an enterprising banker Herman Upmann (besides being involved in banking) opened a postal service in Havana with a purpose to help Europeans in Cuba to send cigars to the European continent. However several years later, in 1844 he decided that manufacturing cigars would be much profitable and opened a factory in Havana, today known as Jose Marti Factory.
Almost 80 years of successful trading came to an end when in 1922 the Upmann bank and the cigar business were declared bankrupt. However the brand was soon bought by J. Frankau & Co. who owned it till 1935 and was sold for the second time to the manufacturers of Montecristo brand – Menendez y Garcia Co. as in the case with other Cuban cigars, the brand was finally nationalised after Cuban revolution by Cuban government.
There are some myths related to this brand which didn’t receive any evidence yet. The one of them states that the H.Upmann company was the one to invent the cedar boxes; they put cigars of other manufacturers in that boxes and gave them to their customers with an advertising purpose – the boxes were all labeled with their logo name.
And the second legend refers to the US President John F. Kennedy who was said to like H.Upmann cigars so much he even ordered his White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger buy all cigars from Washington, DC tobacco shops before the 1962 embargo. The most popular cigars from this brand are considered to be the medium to strong bodied H. Upmann Magnum 46 and H. Upmann Magnum 50 cigars.