Named after the famous book The Count of MonteCristo, Montecristo Cuban cigars where founded by the already successful cigar businessmen Alonso Menéndez and José García in 1935.
At the time, the partners business, Menéndez, García & Co, had recently purchased the H. Upmann brand of cigars. The cigars where released to the public in 1936, as an offshoot of the brand called H. Upmann Montecristo Selection and popularity soon escalated due to the business devotion to creating the fines smoke possible.
However, despite this success, the brand was neglected by the company as it attempted to revive the business fortunes of H. Upmann. When purchased, the group was in financial difficulties, and required extensive modernization to return to profitability. Fortunately, business for the brand soon picked up and the business began to focus on the Montecristo brand.
The name we know today was caused by a change in the brand's distribution agent. The British agent John Hunter insisted for the name to be shortened to Montecristo. Success grew rapidly when Alfred Dunhill Ltd started to carry the brand in its network of stores.
The industry took a huge shake up with the rise of Castro in Cuba. The tobacco industry was nationalized in 1962 and placed under the control of Cubatabaco. The founding partners of the brand fled the country, and after a failed attempt to recreate the brand - left the tobacco business.
Montecristo's originally where only available in 5 sizes (which were only known by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - not names as is typical in Cuban cigars). In the 1970s, to increase market share by suiting changing tastes and expectations in their customers, Montecristo's began to be available in a greater amount of styles and sizes.
Due to the embargo on Cuba, the US market was closed to the Montecristo brand. This changed, when an alternative operation began in the Dominion Republic. This was possible due to the rights of Cuban copyright being limited by the embargo. Due to these measures, Montecristo cigars (to a similar quality to their cuban counterparts) once again became available to the US. This operation soon became owned by Altadis SA which also control distribution and marketing in the US.
Dunhills cooperation with Cubatabaco ended in 1992 due to complaints regarding the quality of cigars being produced under the Dunhill brand name. Currently, Dunhill only sells cigars manufactured in the Dominican Republic.
In 1994 Habanos SA was formed to handle distribution and marketing of Cubatabaco's products overseas. The brand has continued to expand its range and regularly releases special editions for its anniversar, and the brand has become one of the best known cigar brands worldwide.
In 2006, Habanos released a variety of snus produced using the same tobacco as used in Montecristo cigars. Released in Sweden the brand has become well known due to its highly distinctive aroma and taste when compared to traditional Swedish snus. The brand is now also associated with cigarillos, with three varieties being available.
Montecristo accounts for almost 50% of all cigars exported from Cuba.