“Love is a smoke raised with the fumes of sighs,” proclaims young Romeo in the first scene of William Shakespeare’s timeless love story. Just as this tragic tale of two star-crossed lovers is hailed as one of the greatest works of literature ever written, in a similar vein, Romeo y Julieta Cigars are also celebrated worldwide as an exemplar of premium tobacco.
Launched in 1875 by Inocencio Alvarez and Manin Garcia in the foothills of Havana Cuba, the brand rose to prominence quickly. However, its reputation exploded under the leadership of Jose “Pepin” Rodriguez who acquired the brand in 1903.
An already accomplished businessman and savvy promoter, Don Pepin understood the value of the brand’s name. He traveled throughout Europe and the Americas promoting the merits of the finely crafted cigar, even entering his beloved horse, Julieta, in the most prestigious races around the globe. Yet Pepin didn’t solely rely on the prominence of the brand’s name. He understood that not only did the company have to maintain a superior product, but also ensure that the flow of production was methodical and met high-efficiency standards.
Don Pepin’s ingenuity paid off, and Romeo y Julieta Cigars became the preferred cigar for the wealthy and powerful throughout the 20th century. They were favored by well-known smokers like British statesman Winston Churchill, who after visiting Havana in 1946, was afforded the honor of having his name inscribed on the band of their most popular flagship vitola. Pepin found this form of advertising so lucrative that at one point, over 2000 customized bands were made for the company’s most notable consumers.
After the death of Don Pepin and the ensuing revolution, the United States imposed a trade embargo on Cuba in 1960, and production moved to Altadis USA in the Dominican Republic where it remains today. The brand was separated, and Cuba still successfully produces the original version. However, the rich medium-bodied flavor of the sweet Dominican tobacco has established it as very popular cigar in America. The smooth, impeccable quality of Romeo y Julieta Cigars continues to distinguish it as one of the most celebrated names among cigar enthusiasts