The island of Santo Domingo was the first place in the New World where Europeans cultivated tobacco for commercial purposes. This agricultural product had spread there from its original area in the Andes, where it is estimated that it began to be cultivated more than five thousand years ago.
Both the cultivation of tobacco and the production of its derivatives have always been a deeply rooted activity in this Antillean country, so much so that by the beginning of the 20th century there were numerous cigar factories in Santiago de los Caballeros, the capital of the region known as El Cibao.
However, the tobacco market changed considerably after 1920 as cigar-making machines made their appearance, dominating the scene for several decades. Hand-rolled cigars became a small part of the market and the majority were made with tobacco from Cuba, which had established supremacy in the world.
A political event, Fidel Castro's rise to power in Cuba in the late 1950s, forever changed the world of cigars and led to the rise of the non-Cuban cigar industry.
The history of Dominican cigars was also transformed.
The nationalization of the cigar industry in Cuba led to the exile of its famous cigar makers, many of whom settled in the Dominican Republic, where they began to cultivate, from Cuban seeds, different varieties more suitable for that environment. This meant the beginning of a boom time for Dominican cigars and a growing export process that intensified after the 1962 embargo, although not to the level expected, because the United States -the main consumer of Cuban tobacco- decided to import from other countries, and not from the Dominican Republic.
In the 70s, investments from large tobacco companies began to arrive, which were responsible for the beginning of a period of boom and recognition of Dominican cigars. In the 1980s, the Dominican Republic became a fashionable place for the manufacture of cigars and the long-awaited dream of entering the US market came true, in which they became leaders in a short time.
Presence in the US market
The US tobacco market was also transformed, with the end of 1992 beginning a period of impressive growth in imports of premium (hand-rolled) cigars, with consumption tripling in just four years.
For more than three decades, the Dominican Republic led the United States cigar import market and its products received, and continue to do so, numerous recognitions and important awards from specialized magazines. So much so that, in the last five years, three of its premium cigars received the Cigar of the Year award, given by the prestigious Cigar Aficionado magazine.
In 2016, according to figures from the Cigar Association of America (CAA), they were displaced from the first place in purchases of premium cigars in the United States, when Nicaragua began to lead the purchase ranking in this country, which continues to this day. However, Dominican premium cigars continue to have exceptional quality.