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Montecristo

In July 1935, Alonso Menéndez purchased the Particulares Factory, makers of the popular Particulares brand and the lesser-known Byron. Immediately after its acquisition, he created a new brand named Montecristo.

The name for the brand was inspired by the Alexandre Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo, which was supposedly a very popular choice among the torcedores (cigar rollers) in their factory to have read by the lector on the rolling floor. The now-famous Montecristo logo, consisting of a triangle of six swords surrounding a fleur-de-lis, was designed by John Hunter Morris and Elkan Co. Ltd., the brand's British distributor.

In July 1936, Menéndez founded a new firm with a partner, naming it Menéndez, García y Cía. With the growing success of the Montecristo brand, the firm purchased the faltering H. Upmann Factory from J. Frankau SA in 1937 and transferred Montecristo production there J. Frankau continued as sole distributor of the H. Upmann brand in the UK, while John Hunter Morris and Elkan Co. Ltd. was the sole distributor of Montecristo in Britain. In 1963, these firms merged to become Hunters & Frankau, which today is the sole importer and distributor of all Cuban cigars in the UK.

Through the efforts of Alfred Dunhill (the company), the Montecristo brand became incredibly popular worldwide and to this day accounts for roughly one-quarter of Habanos SA's worldwide cigar sales, making it the most popular Cuban cigar in the world. Menéndez and García fled during the Cuban Revolution, and on September 15, 1960, after which the Montecristo brand, the factory, and all assets were nationalized by the government of Fidel Castro.

Menéndez and García re-established their brand in the Canary Islands, but were later forced to quit due to trademark disputes with Cubatabaco (later known as Habanos S.A.). In the mid-1970s, the operation was moved to La Romana and released for the US market, since Cuban government rights to the brand were not recognized under American law due to the 1960 nationalization and subsequent embargo. Menéndez, García, y Cía is now owned by Altadis S.A., who controls its distribution and marketing in the United States.

The Montecristo No.2 is the most popular cigar in the world market. In 2004 the Edmundo was added, a large robusto-sized cigar named for the hero of Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantès.

Montecristo is regularly chosen to be featured in Habanos SA's annual Edición Limitada selection of cigars with a darker vintage wrapper, and issues numerous limited editions of cigars for special occasions, anniversaries, the annual Habanos Festival, charities, etc.

A new, lighter-bodied line was released at the 11th Habanos Festival in February 2009. The planned name for the new line had been Sport, but because of EU regulations prohibiting marketing tobacco with sports imagery, the name was changed to Open with vitola names inspired by sports such as golf and yachting.

Montecristo also produces three machine-made cigarillos: the Mini, the Club, and the Purito.

Written by Oliver Partington - 04/07/2020

 

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