The History of Honduran Cigars
To truly appreciate the tastes and aromas of Honduran cigars, you must have an understanding of the history and struggle that preceded their creation. Honduras has a centuries old relationship with tobacco, but the industry has been threatened several times from civil unrest, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Despite all, their cigars remain loved and are continually increasing in popularity.
The commercialization of Honduran tobacco and cigars began with the arrival of Spanish colonists. The royal crown took notice of the exotic varieties of wild tobacco growing in the area, and recognized it as an opportunity for wealth. By around 1765, the Spanish established a cigar trading post near present day Santa Rosa in the hopes the thriving business would encourage more settlers. Although, they were successful, several other Latin American countries competed with similar products, and after each nation achieved independence, it seemed Cuba was leading the industry.
Rise of Honduran Cigars
Cuba’s nationalization of the cigar industry in the 1960′s triggered resistance from some of the large, tobacco growing families. Many of these important growers took their seeds and businesses to neighboring countries. Additionally, around the same time the US (one of the world’s top consumers of cigars) placed an embargo on all Cuban goods. Although these events were detrimental to Cuba’s cigar sales, it provided a distinct boost to Honduras’ industry. Besides acquiring some of Cuba’s commerce, Honduras also benefited from a supportive government that sponsored cigar companies. Meanwhile, other nations, such as Nicaragua, struggled with political turbulence. Throughout the 1960′s and 1970′s the Honduran cigar industry boomed and the country saw the growth of many plantations and factories.
Times of Struggle
By the 1980s, the social unrest in Nicaragua seeped into Honduras. Although some Nicaraguan tobacco farmers and cigar rollers immigrated to Honduras, this addition was overshadowed by the military bases and resistance groups that took over much of the area. A great deal of the country’s resources were devoted to defense and support instead of on supporting trade and Honduran Cigars. Making a bad situation worse, around 1985, Honduras was plagued with blue mold, which wiped out a good portion of the tobacco crop. It took about five years to recover, but in that time manufacturers surpassed their former success and, along with the Dominican Republic, were the top exporters of cigars to the United States (shipping about 40 million per year). However, their victory was short lived. Hurricane Mitch arrived in 1998 and decimated almost all of the tobacco and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure.
Current Condition of Honduras’ Cigar Industry
Honduras has since replenished its crops and rebuilt its transportation channels (although roads and water distribution are still spotty). The country faces yearly possibilities of hurricanes, and the area is naturally prone to flooding. Because of this, Honduran cigars are always under constant threat. Today, the cigars contain a rich combination of flavors brought from Cuban and Nicaraguan exiles and from Honduras’ native crops. No matter how many times Honduras must start over, its unique cigars will always remain one of the world’s favorite tobacco products.