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History of La Aroma de Cuba Cigars

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Winston Churchill & La Aroma de Cuba

In a rush to confront military combat in the context of a pivotal campaign, Winston Churchill arrived in Cuba in 1895 as a young lieutenant. There, he embedded with Spanish troops engaged in a menacing confrontation with Cuban rebels. Churchill took on fire, turned 21 years old, and received commendation by the Spanish in his role as soldier and war correspondent for London’s Daily Graphic. He also cemented his love for handmade cigars.

Contrary to popular belief, Churchill was previously exposed to premium cigars in advance of his arrival in Cuba through his father, Randolph, who set up an account for him at London’s historic J.J. Fox Cigar Shop. It was in Cuba, however, where Churchill’s direct contact with the product caused his passion to flourish. Inevitably, Churchill’s affinity for cigars proved to be as much a part of his destiny as military conquest. The man and his cigar are rarely separated in countless photos and accounts of his vast contribution to the military and political strategies of the Allies throughout WWII. Among his favorite early brands were Romeo y Julieta and La Aroma de Cuba. Churchill readily amassed these and many dozens more at his country estate, Chartwell Manor, in Kent, England. His collection often ballooned between 3,000 and 4,000 cigars, which is not obscene for an individual who consumed between 8 and 10 per day.

The Revival of a Classic

While Churchill collected and smoked a number of historic Cuban labels during his lifetime, La Aroma de Cuba bears a special allegiance to its Cuban roots today. At some point past the turn of the century, the trademarks for La Aroma de Cuba fell off the radar – not an uncommon occurrence for dozens of cigar companies that were bought and sold or traded as capital among Cubans and other investors. A full-scale revival of La Aroma de Cuba emerged in the early 2000s. In the 1990s, the brand’s trademarks had been acquired and registered by the Levin family, owners of the historic Ashton brand. Focused on expanding their cigar portfolio, they officially launched a Honduran-made La Aroma de Cuba in 2002 to satisfy the growing audience for medium to full-bodied cigars. The brand’s original artwork was resurrected on the bands and boxes.

The appeal of La Aroma de Cuba quickly registered among consumers and it sold well. By the mid-2000s, the Levins decided to transfer production from Honduras to Nicaragua and into the hands of a rising cigar maker, Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia, following the successful debut of another brand Garcia was charged with making for them: San Cristobal. Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia, simply called “Pepin,” was a far cry from an ordinary, up-and-coming cigar maker. Pepin immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in the early 2000s, where he had been a master cigar-maker for decades. Pepin oversaw production for a number of renowned Cuban brands, including Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, and Cohiba, having trained some 200-plus rollers throughout his tenure.

With the support and dedication of his family, Pepin quickly established his presence in the premium cigar market in the U.S. by launching a handful of small-batch brands from a modest factory in Miami’s historic Little Havana district. Among the first of Pepin's cigars to catch the attention of critics and consumers was Tatuaje (Spanish for “tattoo”), a brand the Garcia family blended for Pete Johnson.

As Pepin’s reputation earned praise among cigar lovers, his candidacy to revive La Aroma de Cuba as a premier Nicaraguan brand was clear to the Levin family and the management at Ashton. Today, Pepin and his son, Jaime Garcia, produce a number of award-winning brands, including My Father and Flor de las Antillas. La Aroma de Cuba is among the most renowned and bestselling lines made at the family’s modern cigar-making facility in Estelí, Nicaragua. 

A Prominent Portfolio

In 2008, the first Nicaraguan La Aroma de Cuba cigars blended by Pepin Garcia debuted. La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial is drafted from a glistening Cuban-seed wrapper leaf grown in Ecuador and a marvelous recipe of vintage Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos grown on Garcia family estates. The blend was ranked as the ‘#4 Cigar of the Year’ in Cigar Aficionado following its release. In 2020, the cigar was reblended with tobaccos from a higher priming on the tobacco plant for enhanced flavor. It was also repackaged with new bands and boxes for a fresh look. The new edition received an even higher 94-point rating from the critics. Remarkably Cubanesque flavors of smoked almond, cocoa, leather, and espresso bean notes emerge in a wide variety of classic shapes.  

Due to the critical reception of La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial and its immediate popularity with consumers, the Levin family was convinced the Garcias could successfully assume production of the original La Aroma de Cuba blend. In 2009, the decision was officially made to transfer its manufacture from Honduras to Nicaragua under the care of Pepin and his son, Jaime. The original blend consists of a succulent Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over a hearty interior of premium aged Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The medium-bodied profile displays notes of brown sugar, cedar, earth, and a host of signature Nicaraguan spices. La Aroma de Cuba scored an exceptional 93-point rating and Cigar Aficionado declared the brand the ‘#1 Cigar Industry Best Buy.’ A comprehensive collection of balanced shapes starts at $5 per cigar.

La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor launched in 2011. Pepin blended a dark brown San Andrés wrapper leaf, harvested from fertile volcanic soils in Mexico, over an ultra-premium blend of Nicaraguan long-fillers. The cigar’s medium to full-bodied profile of cracked black pepper, espresso beans, almonds, and cocoa reflect tremendously versatile flavors that shift between spicy and sweet. Mi Amor earned a well-deserved 95-point score and the ‘#2 Cigar of the Year’ title from Cigar Aficionado.

Pepin then blended La Aroma de Cuba Reserva with a darker Cuban-seed San Andrés Oscuro wrapper in 2012. The wrapper was aged for an extended period to produce deeper, richer flavors. A robust blend of Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos comprise the interior. Notes of hickory, wood, dark chocolate, leather, and black pepper converge with magnificent accord. The soft box-pressed Corona Gorda shape scored an impressive 94 points following the cigar’s debut.

The 94-rated La Aroma de Cuba Pasión debuted in 2021 and adds new a new dimension of taste to brand’s portfolio. What sets Pasión apart is a glistening Shade Grown wrapper harvested in the unique microclimate of Nicaragua’s fertile Namanji region where the Garcias discovered the perfect conditions for growing premium tobacco more than a decade ago. Warm days and cool nights foster crops nourished by the basin’s snaking river on a private 300-acre estate. More than one third of the Garcias’ farm is dedicated to Shade Grown wrapper. A well-aged blend of premium long-fillers from Estelí, Jalapa, and Namanji fill out the blend for Pasión in six classic shapes. Tasting notes of smoked cashew, leather, nougat, molasses, cedar, and spice layer the palate before a mouthwatering finish lingers.

In 2023, La Aroma de Cuba Connecticut – a milder version of the original La Aroma de Cuba blend – came out and became an immediate hit. This mellow and creamy smoke earned a 92-point rating from the critics in Cigar Aficionado shortly after its debut. Approachable notes of cedar, almond, cashew, and coffee bean mingle with a hint of buttercream in seven popular sizes. La Aroma de Cuba Connecticut is an ideal blend for new cigar lovers who want to explore a high-quality Nicaraguan blend at an excellent price point.

La Aroma de Cuba is sought after for its exclusive, award-winning portfolio and the unrivaled value it offers. Experience one of the most popular Nicaraguan brands produced today. Were Churchill still alive, he would no doubt stock a box (or several dozen) of the La Aroma de Cuba cigars we’ve come to savor and love over the past decade.

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