Between 1930 and approx. 1997, all cigars from Cuba, regardless of brand or factory used Vuelta Abajo grown corojo tobacco leaves for their wrappers. Famed for their spiciness and peppery smoothness, this leaf provided the unique “punch” Cuban cigar lovers recognize. As you can imagine, non-Cuban cigar companies would have given an arm and leg for corojo seeds with the hope that they can be grown outside Cuba (due to soil and temperature and weather variables, the only place experiencing modest success in this venture has been Nicaragua).
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, some seeds were smuggled out and that’s when the industry began to see non-Cubans made with corojo leaves such as the wildly popular (and flavourful) Camacho Corojo range of cigars.
Its a terrible irony that the moment corojo tobacco began growing outside Cuba, Cuban growers stopped growing it in favour of the more resilient Habana 2000 leaf! Blue mold and other tobacco diseases were decimating the harvests of corojo leaves in Cuba — an alternative needed to be found. The old-style corojo was cross breeded with another leaf and the Habana 2000 was born.
Most aficionados i’ve met claim that the last REALLY good batch of cigars from Cuba was the 1996-97 harvest. That was also the last year Cuban-grown corojo was grown and harvested. Now the only way to smoke a cigar with corojo leaf (the leaf that made Cuban cigars famous) is to smoke a non-Cuban cigar. This world is full of strange ironies.