The most famous of the many famous Havana brands started only in 1935 as a new brand from Menendez, Garcia y Cia., then the owners of the H. Upmann brand. The name is reported to have been inspired by Alexandre Dumas' 1844 novel Le Comte de Montecristo. With a strong marketing effort from Alfred Dunhill of London, this brand became the most popular of all Havana exports.
Montecristo is one of the most recognizable cigar brands in the world. Even nonsmokers are able to identify the brand's iconic logo—six golden rapiers that form a triangle around a centered fleur-de-lis. Like many Cuban cigar brands, there is both a Cuban version and a non-Cuban version of Montecristo sold in cigars shops throughtout the world.
Whether or not you enjoy lighting up the Cuban or non-Cuban version of Montecristo, the brand has an interesting history. Here's a list of nine facts you may (or may not) know about Montecristo: Compared to brands like H (order Montecristo cigars). Upmann (created in 1844), Partagás (1845) and Romeo y Julieta (1875) Montecristo is a relative youngster.
Today, it’s one of the world’s most popular cigars. It was born via acquisition. In 1935, Alonso Menendez acquired Cuba’s Particulares Factory and created a new cigar brand. Cigar rollers would be read books and stories by a lector while they were working, among them the novel The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
The Montecristo No. 4, a petit corona that measures 5 1/8 inches long by 42 ring, was the most popular Cuban cigar for many years. (It has been overtaken by Partagás Serie D No. 4s, but it remains immensely popular.) You can find them just about anywhere, and they’re remarkably good despite being produced in immense quantities, and in more than one factory.
You can buy them in boxes of 25, or in handy five packs. They’re reasonably priced: $6 in Cuba, and £13. 20 ($17) in London. About one year after creating Montecristo, Menendez created Menendez Garcia y Cia., which quickly bought the H. Upmann factory (and the brand with it). They turned it into the largest in Havana, with more than 1,100 workers.
Upmann cigars. When the Menendez family lost the brand to Cuban nationalization in September 1960, they left Cuba, virtually penniless. In 1961, Benjamin Menendez (the son of Alonso, who owned Menendez Garcia) opened Compania Insular Tabacalera S.A. in Las Palmas, Canary Islands and began making Montecruz. Alonso was an investor in the company.
The 1972 lawsuit Menendez v. Faber, Coe and Gregg Inc.—the latter an importer of Cuban cigars—was the landmark case that established the right of the cigarmakers in exile to market their versions of the brands they used to make in Cuba. The lawsuit led to the creation of Cuban Cigar Brands NV, which owned the trademarks H.
The 1970s saw the creation of the non-Cuban Partagas and H. Upmann brands. In 1990, Consolidated Cigar Corp. (which eventually became Altadis after mergers) began making Montecristos for the American market. The Montecristo brand has at least 15 sub-brands made in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. In Cuba, you can choose from the core Montecristo, plus the Montecristo Open (which went on sale in 2009) and Montecristo Línea 1935 (a brand-new version that began shipping last year).
For non-Cuban Montecristos, there are at least a dozen versions, ranging from the mild Montecristo White to the strong Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez. Romeo y Julieta Fabulosos, Sancho Panza Sanchos and Davidoff 80 Aniversarios are long-gone “A” sizes from Cuba, but the Montecristo “A” remains. The 9 1/4 inch smoke is the longest made in Cuba today on a regular basis.
But up until quite recently, the Cuban Montecristo brand didn’t have a regular-production robusto size. The Montecristo Robusto appeared first in 1998 in a limited-edition Millennium jar, then as an Edición Limitada in 2000. For regular-producton smokes, the new Montecristo Línea 1935 Dumas (5 1/8 inches long by 49) is the closest to a robusto format.
The non-Cuban line has long had several robustos, including the Montecristo Nicaragua Robusto, Cigar Aficionado’s No. 10 cigar of 2018. There once was a Montecristo B, a cigar that was discontinued years ago. It measured 5 3/8 inches by 42 ring. A box that was only partially filled (it had 30 cigars) once sold for £6,500 ($8,500) at a Christie’s auction, or £216 pounds ($284) per cigar.
The original Dominican Montecristo’s were all highly rated, yet they mostly all fell into the mellow to medium body category. In 2013, that all changed with the introduction of the Monte by Montecristo. This is a straight-up, spicy, flavorful, full-bodied smoke and the perfect cigar to showcase Montecristo to the new age cigar smoker.
The finishing touch is an intensely flavorful Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. It offers up notes of black pepper, a dash of coffee, cinnamon, and leather. Up to that point, it was not only the strongest Montecristo available but among the most flavorful. The Monte by Montecristo set the tone for all future Montecristo releases.
While it is not as strong as later releases, the Platinum was the first Montecristo to really leave the mellow realm and add some more strength and flavor. The Montecristo Platinum is also among the more unique products from the brand when discussing its blend. It uses a combination of filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Nicaragua, giving it an incredibly complex core.
AUSA took the legendary Habana 2000 seed and grew it in the San Andres Valley in Mexico. The result is a solid medium body that is sweet, rich, spicy and earthy all at once. Even though it is one of the core Montecristo lines, the platinum doesn’t get the recognition of the other lines, and that’s a damn shame.