The Henry Clay brand was first created in the 1840s by the Cuban tobacco magnate, Spanish emigrant Julian Alvarez. The name was proposed by Alvarez when he was in the service of an employer and he maintained it once he was in business for himself.
The brand is mentioned in Irish writer James Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses: "Long John Fanning made no way for them. He removed his large Henry Clay decisively and his large fierce eyes scowled intelligently over all their faces".
In Thomas Mann's Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain, 1924), Hofrat Behrens, the sanatorium physician, recalls how he became deathly ill after smoking two Henry Clays with his coffee and was revived with a camphor injection, ice compresses, and massage.
In Russian and Soviet poet, playwright, and actor Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky's 1925 poem Блек энд уайт/Black and White portraying issues of racism and capitalist exploitation, the setting is a Henry Clay and Bock Ltd. cigar factory in Havana: "В Гаване все разграничено четко: у белых доллары, у черных—нет. Поэтому Вилли стоит со щеткой у «Энри Клей энд Бок, лимитед»". . . . "И надо же случиться, чтоб как раз тогда к королю сигарному Энри Клей пришел, белей, чем облаков стада, величественнейший из сахарных королей".