The History of Por Larrañaga
Early History to Present Day
Established in 1834 by a Spanish immigrant to Cuba, Ignacio Larrañaga, Por Larrañaga is the oldest Cuban cigar brand still in production today by a fairly considerable margin. It is said that Por Larrañaga were the first Cuban cigar brand to be registered after the legendary Cabañas brand, considered to be the very first registered cigar brand hailing from Cuba, though this fact was disputed by the cigar icon Zino Davidoff in his 1967 book “The Book of the Cigar Connoisseur”.
By the end of the 19th century, the brand had gone on to engender a solid reputation as a premium cigar brand, prized by high society socialites and celebrities because of the excellent quality of its cigars. In fact, it was so coveted that some artists have featured it in their works. Notably, the famous British writer Rudyard Kipling dedicated a poem to it “The Betrothed” in 1886, he wrote: “There is peace in a Larrañaga, there is calm in a Henry Clay”. However the brand had always maintained a range of less expensive vitolas in order to still provide smoking experiences for their more modest clientele
From their humble beginnings in their first factory in Havana, Por Larrañaga eventually purchased a larger factory building for $100,000 on Carlos Tercero (Carlos III) Street in Havana in 1920, where production remained until being relocated to the legendary La Corona factory following the Cuban revolution, at which time they were regarded as the sixth largest cigar producer on the island. It was here at their Carlos Tercero based factory that Por Larrañaga became the first Cuban cigar producer to introduce machines into their cigar-making process, following years of labour interruptions and staff shortages. This innovation allowed for vastly lower production costs, as the new technology could use high quality Cuban tobacco leaves and produce a cigar with an acceptable draw for only about 25% of the cost of a hand-rolled cigar, and a machine operator could be trained in two weeks, as opposed to the years of training required to teach a torcedor the prerequisite skills needed to hand roll a cigar efficiently and effectively. However, this decision proved to be unsurprisingly unpopular with the workforce and led to a boycott by the factory's employees, ultimately leading Por Larrañaga to return the machines to the United States.
Post-revolution, the brand maintained the solid reputation it had acquired since the end of the 19th century, however signs of decline began to emerge, and by the 1980’s their production had slowed to virtually a standstill with no warning and seemingly no reasoning. These issues were further compounded in the 1990’s, with trademark litigation reducing exports of Por Larrañaga cigars to but a sparse handful of countries globally.
The brand’s fortunes were set to change in 2002 however, with the announcement that going forwards all Por Larrañaga vitolas would return to being fully constructed by hand using both long-filler and short-filler tobaccos, which came as rapturously received news to the cigar world at large.
In the modern era, Por Larrañaga are quietly producing deliciously mild yet very flavourful sticks albeit a very small core range of them, contained to four fantastic vitolas; the Por Larrañaga Petit Coronas, an excellent and immediately recognisable Mareva size (42 ring gauge x 129mm length) vitola owing to its distinctive all-gold band; the Picadores, a popular Hermosos No. 4 vitola (48 ring gauge x 127mm length) discontinued in the 70’s but resurrected in recent years as a treat reserved for La Casa Del Habanos and Havana Cigar Specialist retailers; the Montecarlo, a slim panetela vitola known as a Deliciosos (33 ring gauge x 159mm length) which is heavily prized by fans of longer, more slender vitolas for its marvellously mild yet impressively thorough delivery of flavour; and most recently the Galanes, an all new format of Robusto unique to the Por Larrañaga brand and the first of its kind in the Habanos portfolio (52 ring gauge x 120mm length).
Alongside their tried and tested backbone of vitolas, both long-time fan favourites and impressive newcomers alike, Por Larrañaga have been selected for numerous Regional Edition releases since 2006, with the Por Larrañaga Lonsdale dedicated to the German market proving incredibly popular with German cigar enthusiasts and those cigar aficionados well travelled enough to snag a box, starting a trend which has seen a further 16 Por Larrañaga Regional Edition releases follow in the years hence, culminating with the incredible Por Larrañaga Gran Robusto being created as a Regional Edition for the Netherlands in 2017!
With such renewed enthusiasm and interest for the brand, the future is certainly looking bright for Por Larrañaga and its fans!