There are very few lines as popular with smokers as Montecristo cigars. Around 25% of all Cuban cigar sales every year are accounted for by this brand; the Montecristo No. 4 is the best-selling Cuban cigar in the world. In every shop on the planet where Habanos are sold Montecristo will have some extent of availability; 26 continuous production cigars across three distinct imprints (each with a different strength profile) all sell enough to warrant their place in the catalogue. The simple brown bands with the fleur-de-lis in the centre have become truly iconic, in a world which severely overuses that term, and the cigar universe simply would not...READ MORE
There are very few lines as popular with smokers as Montecristo cigars. Around 25% of all Cuban cigar sales every year are accounted for by this brand; the Montecristo No. 4 is the best-selling Cuban cigar in the world. In every shop on the planet where Habanos are sold Montecristo will have some extent of availability; 26 continuous production cigars across three distinct imprints (each with a different strength profile) all sell enough to warrant their place in the catalogue. The simple brown bands with the fleur-de-lis in the centre have become truly iconic, in a world which severely overuses that term, and the cigar universe simply would not be the same without Montecristo.
The origin of the name is also engrained into cigar culture. The lectors – people employed to read to the torcedores as they work – of the Havana factories are almost as famous as the cigars themselves. Like Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo was named for a famous piece of literature which became a favourite of the workers in short order. The Count of Montecristo, Alexandre Dumas’ 1844 tale of vengeance, resonated so deeply with those on the factory floor in 1935 – the year the brand was born – that they chose the name to be put on their handiwork.
Shortly after being founded, the brand had generated enough income for its founders to purchase the H. Upmann factory and move production there. The efforts of the brand’s distributors in the UK and US saw the popularity and sales skyrocket, and Montecristo were soon one of the biggest brands in the world. The vendors who sold them the H. Upmann factory – J Frankau SA – and the distributors of Montecristo in the UK – John Hunter Morris – eventually merged to form Hunters & Frankau, giving Montecristo an extra connection to the valuable UK market.
The numbered cigars – Montecristo 1 through 5 – have been in production since the outset, having been the first five cigars produced at the brand’s inception, and show no signs of their appeal decreasing. In 1969 three new cigars were released to mimic the sizes produced by Cohiba – whose cigars were still only available as diplomatic gifts – and manufactured at the legendary El Laguito cigar factory. The mammoth Montecristo A arrived in 1971 and is still produced today, albeit when harvests offer wrapper leaves big enough to cover its 9 ¼ inch by 47 ring gauge format. The trend of the early 2000s towards short, thick vitolas was catered for with the release of the Edmundo and Petit Edmundo. By constantly updating to offer what smokers demanded, Montecristo has been able to stay ahead of the curve and hold the interest of its audience.
Unlike most other Cuban marcas, Montecristo offers a range of different strength profiles. The classic line is blended to be medium-to-full strength, has provided enjoyment for many years now and is considered the ‘true’ Montecristo expression. Keen to expand the appeal even further, Habanos released in 2009 a new imprint within the marca blended to be slightly lighter than the rest and aimed at smokers who enjoyed outdoor sporting pursuits. The Open line, as it was named, was intended to be enjoyed while strolling round the golf course or sailing round a sunny coastline. Now comprising 4 vitolas, it has been a resounding success. In 2017 a little more weight was asked for – the Linea 1935 is made up of three very large sticks blended to be decidedly full strength.
Montecristo No. 4: The original, and most popular. This classic Mareva – 42 ring gauge by 5 ⅛ inches – consistently outperforms every other cigar Havana produces. About 30 minutes of smoke, filled with warm, earthy flavours and notes of chocolate and spice.
Montecristo Open Eagle: 54 ring gauge by 5 ⅞ inches, and presented in handsome tubos, this is the perfect cigar for a full 18-hole round of golf. The blend is indeed lighter than the traditional Montecristo, and notes of cedar and spice will mix for the 90 minutes it smokes for.
Montecristo Linea 1935 Leyenda: 6 ½ inches long and 55 ring gauge, this is the thickest regular production cigar of all from Montecristo. Full in strength and rich in flavours of pepper, spice and earth. This cigar is perfect beside a large cognac after an opulent evening meal.
The massive size and popularity of Montecristo means that, like the other 5 Global Brands in the Habanos pyramid, they are not available for distributors to select for Regional Editions. Rather they are selected with great regularity to be the subject of Limited Editions, such as that produced to mark the 80th anniversary of their founding, and have featured in the Reserva and Gran Reserva series. Only the most prestigious releases are used for this most prestigious of brands, and their grip on the lions share of the market does not look to be loosening any time soon.
Brand Founded: 1935
Strength: Medium; Medium-to-full; Full
Construction: Handmade, Tripa Larga
Continuous Production Cigars: 26