The traditional ceremonial carriage seen on the Diplomaticos cigars band and box may give the impression that this is one of the ancient and well-established Cuban cigar brands. Things are not always as they seem, however, and in fact Diplomaticos have only been around since 1966. What is today one of Havana’s smallest brands – with only one Regular Production cigar, much like La Gloria Cubana – came into being fewer than 60 years ago, making it a relative newcomer to the market; in fact, Diplomaticos were the...READ MORE
The traditional ceremonial carriage seen on the Diplomaticos cigars band and box may give the impression that this is one of the ancient and well-established Cuban cigar brands. Things are not always as they seem, however, and in fact Diplomaticos have only been around since 1966. What is today one of Havana’s smallest brands – with only one Regular Production cigar, much like La Gloria Cubana – came into being fewer than 60 years ago, making it a relative newcomer to the market; in fact, Diplomaticos were the first new brand to be released to the public following the Revolution. This novelty does not equate to a lack of expertise, however, and aficionados around the world have quickly come to adore the Diplomaticos style.
The sepia tone of the band, the yellow-and-red livery on the boxes, and that quaint old carriage are designed to give an impression of age. Given the history of Cohiba and Trinidad cigars (both formed after the Revolution, but neither made publicly available until long after Diplomaticos) both being given as diplomatic gifts to official visitors to Castro’s government, one would be forgiven for the assumption that Diplomaticos cigars were intended for the same purpose many years before. The reality is quite different. The original release was with the intention to offer a more accessibly-priced alternative to Montecristo, who had rapidly risen to the status of high luxury just 30 short years after being founded. The blend is medium-to-full strength, like the classic Montecristo line. The initial size offerings copied Montecristo exactly – numbered 1 through 5 – and each cigar was, and is, hand-rolled with Tripa Larga (long-filler tobacco) from the Vuelta Abajo. The manufacture was even done in the same factory.
Having borrowed style, size and strength from one sister brand, Diplomaticos then began a strategy it would eventually lend to another. The first cigars to be released had noticeably lighter wrappers than many other Cuban cigars would normally – this was an intentional tilt at the French market, and their preference for more gentle colouring and gentle flavours. While this tactic may or may not have been successful for them, it was part of the approach later used by Quai d’Orsay to garner great results in the same territory. Perhaps if Diplomaticos had used the same ‘national exclusivity’ angle that Quai d’Orsay eventually began with, they would have seen more Gallic sales.
While they may not have reached their initial goal of dominating the French market, Diplomaticos cigars did go on to be loved around the world. After the first 5 vitolas proved so popular another 2 were added, this time taking on the shapes of Cohiba’s Lancero and Especiales, in 1976. These elegant panatelas did not do as well as their counterparts, and were taken back out of production just a few years later. Sales waned further and, by the time 2010 rolled around, only one vitola was left in continuous use.
Diplomaticos No. 2: The last survivor of the line, the ‘Diplo 2’ is a wonderful Piramides shape, 52 ring gauge by 6 ⅛ inches and smokeable for around 60 minutes. Initial floral and woody flavours are followed up by richer notes of chocolate and honey.
Just a few short years after the vitolario of Diplomaticos was cut to only one, it began to be selected for Regional Editions by distributors around the world. From Canada to Asia, and even in Cuba itself, smokers appeared to clamour for their own version of the Diplomaticos they missed so much. It remains to be seen whether this sudden craving leads to Habanos reinstating some of the lost expressions, or creating new vitolas more in line with modern tastes, but the phenomenon has resulted in some cigars which are now cult favourites and extremely collectable.
Diplomaticos Bushido Exclusivo Asia Pacific: A 7 ¼ inch by 50 ring gauge Double Robusto, the Bushido came presented in varnished wood boxes with decorative outer casings. The outer boxes are jet black, inlaid with gold foil and decorated with scenes reminiscent of the Samurai code of honour the cigar’s name is taken from. The release was timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the visit to Cuba by Samurai master Hasekura Tsunenaga, said to be the first Japanese person to set foot on the island.
Diplomaticos Norteños Exclusivo Canada: The first time the marca used a classic Robusto – 50 ring gauge by 4 ⅞ inch – size, these cigars smoke for around 45 minutes. Only 6,000 boxes of 10 cigars were produced, making it a rare treat. Cedar, cream and walnut flavours are underpinned by a beautiful, gentle sweetness.
The rate of release of these special edition Diplomaticos has been an average of one per year since the first arrival in 2012. This could be a sign that Habanos are listening to the market; as they hear the uproar about the cancellation of manufacture of almost an entire brand, they are slowly building up to replacing what was lost. It could also be that a switch to solely Limited Edition cigars was always the plan for Diplomaticos, and we will continue to see a gradual expansion of the line, albeit with a degree of difficulty in obtaining them. Whatever proves to be the truth, it does not appear that these wonderful cigars will be permanently vanishing from our grasp anytime soon. This can only be good news for all cigar smokers.
Brand Founded: 1966
Construction: Handmade, Tripa Larga
Continuous Production Cigars: 1