After graduating high school, Heinrich Villiger initially wanted to study German. Instead, he joined the family business at the age of 20, devoting his life to tobacco and continuing the success of VILLIGER Söhne in the third generation to this day.
This success is now being shaped by around 1,700 employees worldwide, with VILLIGER cigars and cigarillos being exported to more than 100 countries. Several vital decisions decisively influenced the fascinating history of VILLIGER Söhne.
Ingredients for success
VILLIGER’s recipe for success has always been based on five key points: an entrepreneurial mindset, a long tradition, innovation, and the quality and variety of cigars and cigarillos. However, assuring the quality of the company’s cigars and cigarillos was just as important as the founding of 5th AVENUE PRODUCTS TRADING GmbH (1989) and INTERTABAK AG (1995), which ensured VILLIGER is the official exclusive distributor of Cuban cigars in Germany, Austria, Poland, and Switzerland. Today, many tobacco enthusiasts think of VILLIGER when they hear the name “VILLIGER ORIGINAL-KRUMME.” However, the cigar was not originally developed by VILLIGER. This Swiss national treasure has only been produced and distributed by VILLIGER since 1988 – following the acquisition of the “Helmut Eichenberger” cigar factory.
A new lease of life
VILLIGER KIEL, on the other hand, is one of the world’s best-known VILLIGER products and is made by VILLIGER. In 1907, Louise Villiger complained about loose bits of tobacco getting in her mouth when she was enjoying a cigar. To address the unhygienic practice of spitting out these bits of tobacco, Heinrich Villiger’s grandmother was the first in the world to have cigars made with mouthpieces – made initially of goose quills. Between the World Wars, production of these KIEL cigars had come to a standstill until Heinrich Villiger revived it in the 1950s. However, plastic mouthpieces are used nowadays, and the patron compares the VILLIGER KIEL to the Swiss Army Knife. After all, the premium VILLIGER cigars and cigarillos made from Indonesian tobacco are also exported worldwide. In fact, one of the best-known celebrities who smoked VILLIGER KIEL was Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, who was stationed in Germany for two years during his time in the United States Army.
Created by the President himself
Having joined the family business instead of studying German after graduating from high school, Heinrich Villiger learned the cigar trade from the ground up. Thus, it is no coincidence that the now 92-year-old patron launched a cigar on the occasion of the company’s 120th anniversary he created himself.
The VILLIGER 1888 was also the first hand-made premium cigar to bear the VILLIGER name. Named after the year Villiger was founded, it surprises with a complex, well-balanced smoke for lovers of medium-strength cigars composed of tobacco from the finest growing areas. The VILLIGER 1888 is sure to satisfy even the most discerning tastes not only in terms of flavor but also appearance. The innovative and broad VILLIGER portfolio also includes other creations of Heinrich Villiger.
If you look at everything Heinrich Villiger has done for VILLIGER and the global tobacco and cigar industry in his 70 years of service to tobacco, it is hardly surprising that he was honored with two of the most prestigious awards in the cigar world. In 1998, he won the “Habanos Man of the Year” award at the Festival del Habano in Cuba. Heinrich Villiger has visited the tobacco island almost 100 times. In an interview on www.heinrichvilliger.ch, the cigar patron recounts an impressive appearance by former Cuban President Fidel Castro during one such annual Habano Festival.
In recognition of his tremendous contribution to the tobacco industry, Heinrich Villiger in 2020 received a Hugo Chairman Award from the prestigious United States Tobacco Business Magazine. The magazine stated that Heinrich Villiger has been both resilient and innovative in adapting his company to meet the ever-changing demands of the global tobacco market.
Heinrich Villiger was recognized for his life’s work as early as 2009 when the International Cigar Journal honored him with the “Cigar Trophy Award for Lifetime Achievement”.
While Heinrich Villiger launched cannabis cigarillos in 2019, e-cigarettes are out of the question. According to him, they are e-waste. Moreover, he is not a pharmacist who sells water in cans. Given the large selection of premium VILLIGER cigars, some of which he has created himself, it is indeed difficult to choose a favorite. Still, the 92-year-old prefers to smoke one of Villiger’s Brazilian cigars. In fact, he finds that they are slightly better than Cuban Havana cigars in terms of flavor.