Shakespeare’s tale of tragic love, Romeo and Juliet, strikes a chord in almost everyone, whether a reminder of lost loves, memories of what might have been or simply as just a good story. It may not seem the most likely of choices to name a cigar, but it nonetheless proved a stroke of genius that would give birth to one of the most famous cigar brands in the entire World: Romeo y Julieta.
With built in name recognition, the Romeo y Julieta brand was created in 1875 by Inocencio Alvarez and Manin Garcia. These two offered a smooth and flavorful cigar that gained instant favor, winning numerous awards along the way.
These awards were added to the design of the cigar’s label much in the same way H. Upmann had done, as was tradition in those days. And yet it wasn’t until the dawn of 20th Century that the Romeo y Julieta cigar would begin its journey to true legendary status.
In 1903 the brand was sold to Don “Pepin” Rodriquez, the once head of the Cabanas factory, one of Cuba’s oldest brands. A grandiose promoter by nature, Rodriquez guided the Romeo y Julieta brand to immense acclaim, rivaling that of all the other best Cuban cigars.
He travelled extensively around the World promoting the brand and searched for unique ways to build on its popularity. Rodriquez was an innovator in the use of the Cuban cigar band, offering his wealthy clients the option of personalized bands that could be used for promoting their own business or name.
He also began to specialize in Figurados or shaped cigars, further separating Romeo y Julieta cigars from the other Cuban brands. He even began entering a horse appropriately named Julieta in races to help promote the brand. His efforts paid immense dividends, helping to place Romeo y Julieta amongst the best Cuban cigars in the World.
The Romeo y Julieta brand would be propelled further into the realm of cigar mythology with a fateful visit by one of history’s most famous cigar enthusiasts, Winston Churchill.
After a visit to Cuba in 1946, Churchill became a major proponent of the Romeo y Julieta cigar’s excellence and sales of the cigar spiked. With this rush of popularity, veteran cigar smokers and newbies alike were clamoring to get the cigar that the great “British Bulldog” had so favorably endorsed.
This in turn led to the company renaming their 7” x 47 cigar a “Churchill” in his honor. The name stuck and now the Churchill size is used by hundreds of cigar makers around the World and is still one of the most popular sizes in the land.
After the passing of Rodriquez in 1954, the brand changed hands, yet managed to continue on with its success.
As with so many other Cuban brands, however, the clouds of revolution hung over the Romeo y Julieta brand and with nationalization policies of the new revolutionary regime headed by Fidel Castro, forced a mass exodus of cigar makers and their brands, Romeo y Julieta among them. The Cuban brand continued on, as so many others had done, under the watchful eye of the government.
The current Cuban Romeo y Julieta cigars are better than ever, delivering silky smooth, yet immensely flavorful smokes that stand alongside Cuban Cohibas, Partagas, H, Upmann and Montecristo cigars. Along with the Churchill, the Romeo y Julieta Cedros de Luxe No. 1 and the Exhibicion No. 4 are aficionado favorites.
Meanwhile a new breed of Romeo y Julieta emerged out of the Dominican Republic that would rival its Cuban predecessor in popularity and prestige. The Dominican Romeo y Julieta started out as a modest operation that slowly gained traction and eventually rose to be included in discussions with the best Dominican cigars.
Once acquired by the giant cigar making company Altadis USA, Romeo y Julieta became and continues to be one of the top selling premium cigars in all of America. Featuring a vast catalog of over 12 different lines available in a broad spectrum of cigar sizes, Dominican Romeo y Julieta cigars have something to offer everyone. Whether mild, medium or strong, there is a Romeo y Julieta to suit.
The original Dominican Romeo y Julieta, now called the Romeo y Julieta 1875 is a true cigar classic that has become somewhat of a rite of passage for a great many cigar aficionados.
Other lines, such as the Aniversario, Reserva Real and Reserve Maduro offer voluptuously pleasing smokes for all. And the legendary Romeo y Julieta Vintage is a milder connoisseur favorite, whereas the Romeo Anejo offers a thick richer smoke for modern tastes.
Check out your nearest cigar shop or cigar lounge to learn more about these savory Dominican smokes.
The Romeo y Julieta name, whether attached to Cuban or Dominican cigars, is one that continues to bring smiles to the faces of cigar lovers around the World.
And so, just as those tragic Montague and Capulet lovers of Shakespeare’s famous play live on, the Cuban Romeo y Julieta cigars and their Dominican counterparts share an eternal bond that will continue to endure.
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this article, say Hello On: