July 1935 was a great year for Alonso Menendez, as he bought the Particulares Cigar Factory. This sale included the lesser known cigar called the Byron. Alonso took no time at all to start on his new brand and Walla the Montecristo Cigar was born.
The cigar name came from the famous novel The Count of Monte Cristo by author Alexandre Dumas, where legend has it the “Cigar Rollers” were serenaded with the novel on the rolling floor.
1936 proved to be another important year in the growth of Montecristo cigars history when Alonso started a new firm with a partner naming the company Menendez Garcia y Cia. With the continued success of their Montecristo brand the new firm purchased the failing H, Upmann factory in 1937 and moved all of Montecristo production there.
Because of Alfred Dunhill’s efforts the Montecristo brand became wildly popular worldwide and today its cigar accounts for nearly ¼ of all of Habano SA’s worldwide cigar sales. Even though the Montecristo cigar was the most popular cigar on earth Menendez and Garcia had to flee Cuba during the revolution of 1965, where the brand, factory and all assets were nationalized by the Fidel Castro run government.
Menendez and Garcia were able to start back up again in the Canary Islands, but later were forced to stop due to trademark issues with Habanos S.A.. In 1975 the company moved to La Romana during the U.S. takeover of the Dominican Republic and released for the U.S. market. Cuban rights to the brand were not recognized under American law because of the 1960 nationalization and embargo. The company is now owned by Altadis S.A. who runs the distribution and marketing in the United States.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s new life was breathed into the brand with five new sizes, which included the A, the Especial No. 1 and No. 2, the Joyita, and the Petit Tubo. Today Montecristo cigars continue to gain popularity among cigar smokers around the globe, remaining one of Cuba’s top selling cigar lines.
Greg Elam –
Content Writer – Windy City Cigars