The Undying Charm of Romeo y Julieta Habanos
THE MYSTERY OF ITS FASCINATING CHARM GAINED STRENGTH AND VISIBILITY THROUGHOUT ITS YEARS OF EXISTENCE, AND IT BOASTS TODAY A SOLID PRESTIGE
After it broke into the competitive market of hand-rolled cigars with Cuban tobacco back in 1875, Romeo y Julieta Habanos treasured in their aromatic and inspiring fragrance the charming spirit of English writer William Shakespeare's masterpiece. The mystery of its fascinating charm gained strength and visibility throughout its 145 years of existence, and it boasts today a solid prestige within the most demanding markets.
Enthusiasts appreciate its balanced and aromatic blending, with selected leaves hailing from the Vuelta Abajo region, which make it the classic medium-strength Habano.
Romeo y Julieta showcases the broadest range of vitolas of Habanos' brands, all of which are totally handmade with long filler.
The wonderful and curious legend began in the small cigar factory belonging to Asturian Inocencio Alvarez and José García (Manín), who requested permission to the Mayor Office “to register a cigar trademark called Romeo y Julieta for use at
the factory they owned on 87 San Rafael Street, in Havana,” according to the official notice recorded in the Official Gazette dated in Havana, on February 22, 1876.
At the Inocencio and Manín's cigar factory, cigar rollers asked the cigar factory reader — such exceptional actor who entertained workers' workday — to read time and time again the Spanish translation of Romeo and Juliet's fascinating romance.
While encasing with love and magnificence those actual handmade jewels, which came out of their hands with seductive appearance, the peculiar audience exploded with joy and started hitting the table with their knives in the zenith of the novel.
Not even William Shakespeare would have imagined that, in the distant Spanish colony of the Greatest of Antilles, the evocation of Romeo and Juliet's tragedy embraced with its charm the legend of one of the best Habanos' brands ever.
Those cigar rollers, deemed to be illiterates, inspired both Astoria's natives in adopting the tragedy title as trademark for its elegant Habanos.
From that moment on, an exhilarating, successful career was built through today. Between 1885 and 1900, the small factory Romeo y Julieta produces Habanos in limited quantities, but of excellent quality, harvested in the famous region of Vuelta Abajo (Pinar del Río).
According to historians, Inocencio Alvarez hired the best cigar rollers in Havana and demanded — first and foremost — the quality of both the Habanos and their presentation.
This way, the brand swiftly gained prestige among its most demanding smokers worldwide. For example, the gold medals earned in international Cigar Expos held in Antwerp (1885), Brussels (1889), and Paris (1900) speak for themselves and are stamped in the brand's logo.
The company was successful thanks to a simple but extremely efficient call: “to achieve a praiseworthy Habanos, it was necessary a high-quality tobacco.”
For his part, to guarantee the leaves highest quality, Manín García created an experienced observers' Corp that spied the best tobacco plantations in Cuba with precise instructions to pay close attention to every stage that plants experienced until curing. Thus, it was much easier to decide where to purchase every season.
However, another Asturian young man —arrived in Cuba with nine years old in 1885 and after having studied in Cuba and universities in the United States, paid by his tobacco grower uncle, he decided to return and work in the industry to the extent he came to know every detail and came to own and boost advertising as no one had done before — raised the merchandizing of Habanos Romeo y Juliet to its highest degree. After gaining experience as former manager of the Cabañas factory in Havana, José Pepín Rodríguez Fernández purchased Romeo y
Julieta in 1903, and gave up the idea of working for
American companies that came to offer him a blank check to set his fees.
He cared for and enhanced it “as if it were my own daughter,” he said to an American businessman who tried his best to purchasing Pepín's burgeoning factory, which was one of the most important in Havana by 1905, with a total area of 1.960 m2 and more than 1.000 workers.
Over the period of 1903-1916, Romeo y Julieta increased its production from 2 to 18 million units per year.
Don Pepín, as he was known, was reputed to be simple and easygoing man. He treasured a natural gift and inherited business instinct paired with a great creative skill. He was regarded as a pioneer of advertisement.
The brand gained fame worldwide in the early years of the 20th century, after Don Pepín Rodríguez realized the importance of cigar bands as the cornerstone for success.
Former British PM Winston Churchill visited Cuba in 1946 and Pepín proved his sagacity. As soon as he knew about the likes of the famed politician regarding the Cuban tobacco, after Churchill's trip to the island in 1895, and his preference for Romeo y Julieta, the company launched a 178 mm long Habano with a ring gauge 47.
Churchill's devotion for the brand Romeo y Julieta lasted to his dying day. His name was not only used in Habanos cigar bands, but also gave a name to the most famous vitola of the brand. When he died, 69 years after he tasted a Cuban cigar for the first time, Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill had smoked more than 250.000 Habanos, averaging 4.000 per year, according historians Bernard Le Roy ad Maurice Szafran.
One of the weirdest curiosities surrounding the wisps of smoke of the Habano is that it was first tasted by Europeans around the same time Shakespeare was making an impression in London's theater scene. Five centuries later, the legend of Romeo y Julieta triggers passion and hidden pleasures in enthusiasts of Habanos Romeo y Julieta as well as the secrets of its universal charm.