Tobacco has been grown in Jamaica for as far back as anyone can tell. Much like Cuba, Jamaica has the perfect climate and soil conditions for rich, flavorful tobacco. But, Jamaica has always been like the little brother of the Cuban cigar industry – everybody knew it was there, but nobody really cared – they wanted the Cuban cigars…
The Jamaican cigar industry was rather stagnant and didn’t develop much in the early 1900’s, but that all changed when the 1940’s came around.
A big boost to the Jamaican cigar industry came from the Second World War. During the colonial era, the British had developed a liking for tea, sugar, and most importantly tobacco. So, when the war broke out, money couldn’t be spent outside the Commonwealth. Since Cuba was not a British colony, the Cuban cigar market dropped in a hurry. How could Cubans take advantage of this situation and sell their cigars? They jumped on a boat to Jamaica, which was a British colony, and started producing their cigars there. Eventually, most went home when the war was over, but the cigar making tradition, the crops, and the infrastructure remained. That is how the modern tobacco industry in Jamaica got started.
Growing tobacco in Jamaica isn’t always easy, either. If there is one thing that has limited the growth of the Jamaican cigar industry, it has been hurricanes. Most people just see this as an event that hurts tourism and causes a big mess, but in reality, a hurricane can wipe out a whole crop of tobacco like it wasn’t even there. It’s not like you can just start growing again either – it can take years to reestablish yourself.
If there is one single person who can be credited with rebuilding the Jamaican cigar industry after the multiple disasters that took place before the 1990’s, it is Barrington Adams. This businessman, a native Jamaican himself, decided to give back some of his success to his home country by building factories and producing multiple lines of Jamaican cigars. Now, the industry is growing very quickly and regaining some of its lost reputation.
While Jamaica is still rebuilding its cigar industry to what it once was in the past, there are still some great buys available. You can get a very high quality Jamaican cigar for a fraction of what a comparable Cuban cigar would cost. Add in the fact that Jamaican cigars are more accessible to more people, and you really have a winner!