Saint Luis Rey Cigars
Over the years a handful of Cuban cigars have been created solely for the enjoyment of one particular nation of smokers – Saint Luis Rey cigars are a perfect example. Just as Quai d’Orsay cigars were originally only available to buy in France, Saint Luis Rey is a brand originally conceived for the United Kingdom market, by a pair of shrewd businessmen from London, before eventually being released to the world at large. Designed for exclusivity, these sticks have always been produced in limited numbers, and today only one regular production smoke is offered. Despite this...READ MORE
Saint Luis Rey Cigars
Over the years a handful of Cuban cigars have been created solely for the enjoyment of one particular nation of smokers – Saint Luis Rey cigars are a perfect example. Just as Quai d’Orsay cigars were originally only available to buy in France, Saint Luis Rey is a brand originally conceived for the United Kingdom market, by a pair of shrewd businessmen from London, before eventually being released to the world at large. Designed for exclusivity, these sticks have always been produced in limited numbers, and today only one regular production smoke is offered. Despite this relative obscurity, Saint Luis Rey is a marca which is considered one of the finest available by the most knowledgeable of Habanos fans.
Records show the registration of a company named Zamora y Guerra in 1940 as the beginning of the Saint Luis Rey story. An agreement was signed between Cubatabaco and N.R. Silverstone Limited, a London-based cigar importers, for the brand to be exclusively distributed by them and limited only to the UK market. This agreement withstood even the Cuban Revolution before eventually, in 1993, it was decided that the firm’s monopoly on the brand would be halted and their presence made worldwide. Up until this adjustment, Saint Luis Rey were the only brand not brought to the UK by Hunters & Frankau (the sole UK importer for all other Cuban brands); after 1993 H&F held responsibility for all UK Cuban cigar sales and Saint Luis Rey began their journey into other markets. Pacific Cigar Company were the first to bring the brand to their region, importing the cigars to Hong Kong from 1994, before all other regions followed suit.
At its peak, Saint Luis Rey production saw more than 10 different vitolas leave the factory – the same Briones Montoto factory where Rafael González and Romeo y Julieta cigars are made – before gradually reducing to just the one we have today. Many factors are said to have contributed to the scaling back of the brand, not least the competition for large wrapper leaves among the Habanos portfolio – among the vitolas to be discontinued in the last 25 years were 2 separate Double Coronas. Whatever the reason, the exclusivity it has created now afford Saint Luis Rey a touch of added mystique, and has led to it being a popular choice for Regional Edition cigars.
Saint Luis Rey Regios – The sole survivor of the scaling back of the brand is this elegant large corona. At 5 inches long by 48 ring gauge, it will provide about 40 minutes of full-strength smoke, with honey and wood among the flavour notes.
Saint Luis Rey Herfing – The 54 ring gauge by 5 ½ inch Duke vitola made popular by the Partagas Serie E No. 2 cigar was chosen for this Medio Oriente Exclusivo in 2017. Production was typically limited, but a few are still available and provide a wonderful post-prandial treat for lovers of full-strength cigars.
Saint Luis Rey Pura Vida – Just as thick as the Herfing, but 2cm shorter, is the Pura Vida, the most recent expression of the marca, released as a Regional Edition for Costa Rica. Only 60,000 cigars were ever rolled, making this a particularly rare treat.
It is perhaps fitting that the brand originally developed for the UK market has a royal connotation in its name. Two differing theories on the origins of the moniker compete: one holds that the name was chosen in tribute to a novel written in 1927: Thorton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey. The book won the Pulitzer prize in 1928, was made into a movie the same year (and again in 1944, with a third version following in 2004) and was extremely popular at the time the brand was launched. Given the subject matter – investigating the tragedy of a collapsed bridge and the resulting deaths – it perhaps seems a bizarre, somewhat melancholy choice for a brand name. Far more likely is the alternate hypothesis, that the brand was named after the Vuelta Abajo town of San Luis. The literal translation of the name is “King of Saint Luis”; with the tobacco used to craft the cigars coming from the Vuelta Abajo region, it stands to reason the entrepreneurial minds behind the brand wanted to project a lofty status for their new venture, and announce it as king from inception.
In the 80-odd years which have passed since Messrs de Keyser and Silverstone brought this brand to the world it has seen a fair amount of turbulence and change. From obscurity to celebrity and back again, Saint Luis Rey is now usually known only to the most educated of cigar aficionados. The extremely limited production of the cigars does little to expand their visibility, but the quality of those that do reach the market has delighted smokers for nearly a century, and the elusive nature gives an added beauty to the brand. Saint Luis Rey will no doubt be around in some form for plenty more years.
Brand Founded: 1940
Construction: Handmade, Tripa Larga
Continuous Production Cigars: 1