Romeo y Julieta was founded in Cuba in 1875 and was named after one of Shakespeare’s literary masterpieces, Romeo and Juliet. During the mid 20th century, Romeo y Julieta was becoming increasingly popular, but due to the Cuban Embargo, they decided to set up shop in the Dominican Republic. Today, cigar master José Seijas watches over the majority of Romeo y Julieta cigars and creates some of the most classic Cuban inspired cigars today. The Perlado, or pearl, comes packed full of a tri-country blend of Nicaraguan, Dominican, and Colombian long-fillers with a Dominican binder, and it’s all wrapped up with a seamless Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper and an elegant white band. Mild in body, expect notes of sweet tobacco and black pepper, with hints of hay. We found that a lemonade pairs beautifully with this smoke on a warm spring afternoon.
Though tobacco is indigenous to Hispaniola, the tobacco industry in the Dominican Republic existed in the shadow of Cuba’s dominance through the 1960s. When the exodus of Cuban cigar makers began in the wake of the revolution, many decided the Dominican Republic would be ideal for the resumption of their livelihoods. Unrest in Nicaragua in the 1980s fueled the Dominican cigar industry further. The country now makes more than half of the premium cigars imported into the U.S.
The Cibao Valley and the nearby city of Santiago are the center of cigar production in the Dominican Republic. Three main varieties are grown here: the mild and native Olor Dominicano; the intense Piloto Cubano, brought from the Vuelta Abajo of Cuba; and San Vicente, a milder and more acidic Piloto hybrid. Dominican puros were once unheard of as it was widely thought impossible to grow quality wrapper leaf on the island, but new growing techniques are now allowing some exceptional puros to be produced.
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