As the end of the 19th century approached there was one status symbol that signified ones wealth and that was smoking a cigar. At this time Vice President Thomas Marshall went to the Senate and proclaimed – “What this country really needs is a good five cent cigar”.
During this time frame in American history one of the more popular premium brand cigars was the Henry Clay. It was named after the famous Statesmen, Henry Clay and was originally manufactured by Julian Alvarez in Havana, Cuba. Henry Clay cigars date back to 1840 and are one of the oldest original Cuban cigar brands.
Henry Clay (1777-1852) also known, as “The Great Pacificator” was one of America’s most noted Statesmen. His strength was being able to bring people together. Henry brought his compromising skills and resolved 3 disputes between States that eventually prevented a civil war. From Lexington, Kentucky on his estate known as “Ashland” he ran for President 3 times, but was unsuccessful each try.
In 1888 Alvarez sold his business to a part of the Tobacco Trust known as the British firm Henry Clay and Bock & Company.
In 1898, Rudyard Kipling stated in his poem The Betrothed that:
“There’s calm in a Henry Clay”
The cigar brand finally died out around the time of the Great Depression. In the late 1990s, the brand found new life and was restored and is now manufactured by Tabacalera de Garcia, in the Dominican Republic. The label on the box shows the original Henry Clay factory in Havana Cuba.
Henry Clay also introduced his Washington, DC constituents to the Mint Julep drink at the world famous Willard’s Hotel’s Round Robin Bar. It’s here that the straw was also invented lending more credence to the famous mint juleps appeal. In 1938 the drink became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.
Greg Elam –
Content Writer – Windy City Cigars