Montecristo cigars are world famous but there is some confusion on where they originate from. Are Montecristo cigars Cuban or Dominican? The answer is a little bit of both.
As a cigar aficionado, you learn to recognize cigar quality, styles and flavor profiles by their manufacturer and where the tobacco is grown. But for one of the most loved cigar brands, those details are less clear.
How can you tell a real Cuban Montecristo from the Dominican Montecristo cigar? Is there a true difference? Why do they have the same name? We’ll explain it all in simple terms.
Where Was the First Montecristo Cigar Made?
The first ever Montecristo cigar was rolled in Cuba in 1935. The man behind this highly coveted cigar is Alonso Menéndez, a businessman that bought the cigar-rolling factory, Particulares Factory, that same year.
However, the Montecristo cigar brand quickly outgrew its humble beginnings. Like the inspiration behind its name, Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo, it became ragingly popular within Cuba but also worldwide.
Menéndez decided to start a new company with new partners and named it Menéndez, Garcia y Cia in 1936. The company became so successful that they were able to take over the legendary H. Uppmann cigar brand and factory which by then had lived past its greatest glory days.
The H. Uppman Factory was and is to this day, one of the largest cigar rolling factories in the world with over 1000 workers within its walls daily. Cuban Montecristo cigars are still made there today.
Montecristo Cigars from the Dominican Republic
For decades the Cuban Montecristo, specifically the Montecristo #2 cigar, was an international hit. The brand took the number 1 spot as the best-selling Cuban cigar worldwide. However, this Cuban national pride went through serious changes after 1960.
When the Fidel Castro regime nationalized industries in 1960, the Menéndez family fled the country leaving behind their fortune. They found their first new home in Spain’s Canary Islands.
With Alonso’s son Benjamin at the helm, they began producing a Montecristo copy called Montecruz. The Montecruz held the same shape but instead of a Havana wrapper, it now used a Cameroonian wrapper. The original sword on its fleur-de-lis was replaced by cross.
Eventually, production moved to the Dominican Republic, closer to the biggest Montecruz market; the United States. The Montecruz brand benefited from the fact that Montecristo cigars were no longer allowed to be imported into the US.
Because of a loophole created by the trade embargo, Montecruz was able to regain the Montecristo name as long as it was only sold in the United States. It quickly grew to become the favorite cigar of Americans.
Where Popular Montecristo Cigars Are Made
With two separate producers using the same brand name, it can be difficult to tell them apart. Both the Cuban Montecristo and Dominican Montecristo are still creating a wide variety of fantastic cigars.
Popular Cuban Montecristo Cigars
- Montecristo #2
Undoubtedly the greatest Montecristo success. This torpedo cigar is a true original with all its elements produced locally in Cuba.
- Montecristo Robusto
The robusta size is one of the newer styles for the Cuban producers. It was first released as a limited edition in 1998 and more modern iterations of its are still being made.
- Montecristo #4
This is a petit corona that is about as popular as the #2. It has a gentle profile which makes it a good beginners cigar.
- Montecristo B, Montecristo #6, Montecristo #7
Finding one of these rare cigars is a true treasure because they are discontinued. A box of 30 Montecristo B cigars sold for $8,500 at a Christie’s auction.
Popular Dominican Montecristo Cigars
- Montecristo White Series
The Montecristo White Series is made in the Dominican Republic using Nicaraguan binder and a blondish Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. It is complex, nutty, woodsy and a wonderfully long finish.
- Montecristo Monte
Those expecting the signature smooth Dominican flavor profile will be pleasantly surprised by this spicy alternative. It has an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with a binder made of Dominican Olor leaf and Nicaraguan Corojo leaf for extra deep and intense tastes.
- Montecristo Cincuenta
This is a special edition released to mark the 50th anniversary of the Dominican Montecristo brand. The special occasion is also marked by a very special price.
- Montecristo Epic
This cigar lives up to its name. It is one of the most intense cigars so prepare yourself for a long slow night when smoking this bad boy.
How Can You Tell a Real Cuban Montecristo from the Dominican?
Still don’t know whether you have a Cuban cigar in your hand or from another tobacco-producing country? Here are a few tips to know the difference between Montecristo cigars.
The first thing to look at is the fleur-de-lis (which is also the best way to spot a fake Montecristo). You know that you are holding a Cuban Montecristo when it says Habana underneath the sword symbol.
Another key clue is where you bought it. Up to this day, Cuban cigars are still not allowed into the United States. So, if you’re walking into an American cigar shop and see a Montecristo, it was most likely made in the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua.
Cuban vs. Dominican Montecristo Cigars: Which Is Better?
This is a debate that we could have for hours on end because both nations produce excellent cigars – if not the best in the world. Also,because of their entangled history it is difficult to give one credit without the other.
Obviously, where the binder and wrapper are grown makes a big difference in the flavor profile. Although the Menéndez family and those that continued the brand have put great effort into mimicking the original Cuban, it’s never exactly the same. On the other hand, some argue that the cigars not made in Cuba are of a more consistent quality.
Now that you know where your Montecristo cigars come from, we’ll let you decide which version is the more superior smoke.