May 19th, 2023
In the world of cigars, one family has stood the test of time for over a hundred years, and that is the León Family, makers of the world-renowned brand, La Aurora. If you're a cigar aficionado, you've surely heard of them, and if not, you're in for a treat.
La Aurora is one of the oldest and most iconic cigar brands in the world, with a rich history spanning five generations. The brand has been passed down through several generations of the León family and continues to thrive today as a name that is synonymous with excellence in the world of premium cigars. This year (2023), La Aurora celebrates its 120th year in business, a testament to the family's enduring legacy and commitment to quality.
The León Family has a long and storied history in the Dominican Republic. The company was founded back in 1903 in Guazumal (making it the oldest cigar factory in the Dominican Republic), by the relentless 18-year-old Eduardo León Jimenes who was born to a 2nd generation tobacco grower. In the name of transportation, Eduardo had one donkey who assisted him in his search for the region's finest tobacco.
As demand grew, it became necessary to expand the factory, and the decision was made to move to the bustling Calle Independencia in Santiago de los Caballeros. There, Don Eduardo and his brother Don Herminio built a striking yellow building with colonial-style windows, a beacon for cigar lovers from all over the world. The brothers chose the lion as the symbol for the brand, a nod to the cigar's strength, opulence, and majesty.
The León family has been instrumental in the success of La Aurora, with several generations of family members involved in the business. In 1937, Don Eduardo passed away, leaving his brother Don Herminio to take stewardship of La Aurora. This change in leadership came during a critical time for La Aurora, as it was more than just a business - it was a family mission. Don Herminio recognized the importance of preparing the company for the next generation of Leóns and made it his focus.
Remembering the León Family Creed "We are a proud family of rural origin, forged with persistent work under a strong sun. Humble and honest people. People who, along with cultivating the land, cultivate love, happiness and faith", Herminio's goal was to mentor Eduardo's sons and pass along his passion for tobacco to them. This would ensure that the family mission would continue to thrive for generations to come.
In 1951, a pivotal moment occurred in the history of the León family. With the passing of Don Herminio, his nephews – Fernando, Eduardo, Guillermo, and Jose – took over the family business. While Eduardo expanded the company's interests, it was Fernando who became the driving force behind the cigar business. As a master blender, he was the fourth generation of Leóns to work in the tobacco industry, and he quickly gained a reputation for his unwavering demand for quality, extensive knowledge of tobacco, and strong relationships with Dominican farmers. Fernando León had arrived, and the world of premium cigars would never be the same.
The León family’s passion for excellence is not limited to their business. They are also committed to their workforce. With a promise to pass on their conviction and passion to the next generation, the León brothers did something truly remarkable in 1957, they decided to band together to create a union that would recognize workers' rights and ensure that they were treated with the respect and dignity that they deserved.
This was no small feat, considering the climate of the time and the fact that many employers saw their workers as expendable cogs in a machine. But the León brothers knew better. They understood that their workforce was their greatest asset, and they wanted to make sure that they were taken care of. With this collective agreement, they sent a powerful message to the world that the human element in the industry was essential and that new technologies should be used to enhance, not replace, the expertise of their hard-working employees.
As time passed, Guillermo León, the grandson of Eduardo León and son of Fernando León, became the fifth generation of Leóns to work in the tobacco industry in the year 1995, marking the beginning of a new chapter for La Aurora. Alongside his father, Guillermo brought fresh insights and a modern perspective to guide La Aurora into the 21st century. After years of growth and expansion, the La Aurora factory moved back to its roots in Guazumel in 2007, the same place where it all began in 1903, a complete circle. However, the year 2009 was a sad moment for the entire tobacco world as Don Fernando León, a legend in Dominican tobacco culture, passed away at the age of 87. His lifelong passion, knowledge, and strong relationships with tobacco growers in the Cibao Valley earned him respect and admiration, making him a beloved and influential figure in the cigar industry. Today, several of La Aurora's cigars bear his name in honor of his devotion.
The León family has a long tradition of passing down their knowledge of cigar-making from generation to generation. In the year 2016, Don Guillermo continued the legacy of his family's passion for premium cigars by establishing the La Aurora Cigar Institute. With his grandfather Eduardo and his father Fernando setting the bar high, Don Guillermo, the current CEO of La Aurora, learned the family business from the ground up and sought to train a new generation of cigar artisans to maintain the high quality and exceptional taste that La Aurora is known for. Thanks to his leadership, La Aurora is now available in over 80 countries across five continents, fulfilling the vision set forth by his grandfather years ago. This dedication to excellence and unwavering commitment to crafting a world-class cigar will undoubtedly continue to be passed down from generation to generation, cementing La Aurora's place as a top choice among cigar aficionados worldwide.
What makes La Aurora special isn’t just its rich history, but also its unique approach to cigar making. The León family believes that their intergenerational knowledge is what makes their cigars so special. Also, they use only the finest tobacco, both grown locally by Dominican farmers, as well as by trusted partners abroad. Once the tobacco leaves are harvested, they go through a rigorous process of sorting, fermenting, and aging. This ensures that every cigar they produce is of the highest quality.
The León Family is a true cigar-making dynasty, with a rich history that spanning 120 years. The family's passion, dedication, meticulous attention to detail, and commitment to producing quality cigars (which even three decades of dictatorship couldn't stop) are evident in every stick that they produce. When you light up a La Aurora cigar, you're not just smoking a cigar – you're experiencing a piece of history. So, the next time you're in the mood for a great smoke, reach for a La Aurora cigar and taste the passion and heritage that have been passed down through generations.