If there is one moment that defines post-revolutionary Cuban cigar history, it is when Fidel himself smoked a cigar given to him by his bodyguard in 1965. The Cohiba cigar was born soon after.
Cohiba, the word for tobacco in the language of the indigenous Taino people of Cuba, as we all know today, has become the most sought-after brand among Cuban cigars.
The story begins innocently enough. As Castro and his bodyguard were riding together in a car, the bodyguard was puffing on what he told El Comandante was a ‘fuma’ made by a friend, Eduardo Rivera Irizarri, who worked in a cigar factory. Castro asked for one of the cigars and liked it so much that he ordered more.
It became his regular smoke and he gave them out to his main guys, including Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. The cigar, a long, thin panatela was also sent to other world leaders who smoked cigars, among them Omar Torrijos of Panama, Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, and Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser.