Cohiba is a name synonymous with cigars—and unsurprisingly so. Not only does saying the name Cohiba feel like a rich mouthful of smoke from a good draw of a fine cigar, but it is a word steeped in rich heritage centuries in the making.
Cohiba began on the lips of the Taino Natives when Christopher Columbus first set foot on the glistening shores of Cuba. The Tainos smoked bunches of tobacco leaves which they named Cohiba.
The name lay dormant, until a fateful moment, in the midst of seismic political shift in Cuba. A rising Fidel Castro smelled cigar smoke unlike any other—so aromatic, so captivating, Fidel had to find the source. He followed the scent to one of his bodyguards smoking a cigar, and asked the bodyguard what he was smoking.
The cigar was a special blend made by a friend of the bodyguard, and Fidel had to find the artisan responsible. Fidel met with the cigarmaker, tried the cigar and enjoyed it so much, he established a top secret factory (now the famed El Laguito factory) and began limited production of the exclusive cigars. The cigars remained unnamed until 1966 when Fidel dubbed them Cohiba.
From then, Cohiba only graced the lips of the commandant himself, top government officials, and the select heads of state and diplomats to whom Fidel would personally gift a box of his beloved line. Cohiba became an icon, renowned worldwide for its extreme exclusivity and prestige.
The 1960s however, not only brought the rise to prominence of the Cohiba name, but also the Cold War tensions which birthed the infamous El Bloqueo, the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, instated under President John F. Kennedy and his initiative to end the spread of communism. Many premium cigar brands were in a state of confusion and uncertainty, with entire brands folding from being starved of access to the largest economy in the world.
However, from that tumult, the eminent General Cigar Company saw opportunity in Cohiba to create a brand for all aficionados that would serve as a true symbol of the good life. General Cigar Company filed patents for the line in the U.S. in 1978, began hand making the cigars in the Dominican Republic, and the new beloved American Cohiba hit the market in the 1980s.
Cohiba was a popular entry for General Cigar, but with the Cigar Boom of the 1990s, Cohiba became a household name across America. The signature red dot in the O of the logo earned the brand the nickname “Red Dot Cohiba.”
However, Cohiba by General Cigar Company has been wrapped in controversy from its introduction in the 1980s. Around the same time, Cohiba of Cuba became commercial, and consumers around the world, with the exception of the U.S., could enjoy a Cuban Cohiba. From then, bitter tensions brewed between owners of Cohiba of Cuba, Habanos, S.A. ( a jointly owned tobacco venture between Altadis and the Cuban Government), and Cohiba by General Cigar. Legal battles have been won, lost, and laid before the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.
While Cohiba now embodies the Cold War struggles that still pervade U.S. and Cuba relations, Cohiba went from an unknown name, uttered only in the New World, to the exclusive domain of the powerful, to now being on the lips of aficionados around the globe.
Cohiba by General Cigar continues to proudly release acclaimed tributes to unbridled luxury that are still being handmade in Dominican Republic with choice blends, wrappers and various sizes, for a smoke to suit every aficionado’s desired experience.
Also notable is Cohiba’s dedication to ever-refining and innovating its methods, notably recruiting Sean Williams, the respected mind behind El Primer Mundo Cigar Company, as an ambassador to continue expanding the brand experience.
Whether warming relations or a continuing stalemate in trade wins the day, or another clashing of the Cuban Government and Cohiba by General Cigar makes its way into the American courthouses, Cohiba by General Cigar thrives as a classic lineup within the General Cigar family, with a following, character, and identity all its own as a true symbol of the good life.