HUMBLE BEGINNINGS: MACANUDO’S ORIGINS
From a small Jamaican factory to one of the largest brands in the cigar industry, we’ve overcome a lot of challenges. But while many know the name Macanudo, few know the story of how the company came to be.
A SEED IS
Our story begins in World War II. During the war, England had no cash to send to the Old World for cigars. Jamaica – at the time, a member of the British Commonwealth – became a lush new option for cigar makers. Since the colony was an extension of Britain’s own government, cigars could be crafted with no cash required. And thus, Jamaica’s cigar industry was born.
Not long after, the creators of our cousins, Punch Cigars, wanted a new brand to sell to England. King Edward was infatuated with the word “Macanudo” that he picked up from Argentinian polo players.
Meaning “fantastic,” Macanudo became the go-to name for a new cigar brand that wanted to win the favor of the King.
A BOLD EXPERIMENT
Skip forward twenty years, and Jamaica is the hot new place for cigar makers. In the mid-sixties, the island was home to burgeoning author Ian Flemming, incredible views, and was easily accessible via direct flights from New York City.
At the time, industry legend Edgar Cullman took a risk on a small factory there to continue Macanudo’s legacy as the flagship of its namesake. But there was no guarantee of success.
Cullman’s expertise was growing Connecticut shade tobacco. Back then, Connecticut shades were often used for cheap cigars, not premium exports. Cullman took a chance on what he knew had potential and used the deeper flavors of the plant’s upper primings to develop the first true Macanudo.
Cullman took a chance on what he knew had potential and used the deeper flavors of the plant’s upper primings to develop the first true Macanudo.
Aficionados of the time went wild. Commercial success soon followed, and as sales grew, so too did Macanudo’s offerings. But Cullman’s eyes lay on the path forward. An idea had been gnawing at him.
Inspired by the process behind vintage wines, he wanted to save the best of the best tobacco leaves to one day create a vintage cigar series.
Every year, bales were set aside to build this dream. And every year, the crop would be tested to see how it had developed while resting. Tobacco would be lost at every check-in as not all varietals held up to extended aging. But he remained true to his dream.
At six-month intervals, he would test the remaining blends until the right tobacco developed at just the right moment to meet his ambition. In 1989, the Vintage Cabinet Selection was launched using 10-year-old tobacco, the first time this had ever been done in the cigar industry. Now that he had pioneered the precise process for particular tobacco leaves, he could begin his Vintage series.
Demand was through the roof, and Macanudo’s popularity soared. But with the 90s on the horizon, the world of cigars was about to change forever.
In 1996, everything changed. With the “Cigar Boom,” the popularity of cigar smoking soared higher than ever before, and by this time, Macanudo had already secured a revered status in the eyes of cigar lovers.
Driven by their pursuit to stay ahead of the curve and provide a space where aficionados could live the lifestyle, Macanudo developed Club Macanudo in New York City. It was the first branded cigar club in the United States and remains a mainstay of cigar culture and New York nightlife to this day.
But change is a symptom of time. As the nineties came to a close, a major shift occurred in the world of cigars, and Macanudo’s fate would hang in the balance.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
With more and more people enjoying cigars, new trends in the industry were taking hold. As the palettes of the industry grew and changed over time, many were looking for stronger, more robust, full-bodied cigars. Macanudo moved production to Santiago, Dominican Republic, in 2000, shortly after releasing the Macanudo Maduro. But even while keeping with the times, the brand stayed true to its roots.
Soon, the brand defied convention by releasing Macanudo Gold Label. A sweeter and more mellow cigar inspired by Macanudo’s origins. Using a unique Connecticut Shade leaf and a creative aging technique, the annual release remains a statement to the world that a truly great Connecticut shade leaf can always stand out from the crowd.
To this day, Macanudo Gold Label is released alongside cigars like those found in the Inspirado and M lineups. As the palettes and fans of Macanudo have grown and evolved with the times, these lineups have provided cigar lovers with more ways to enjoy Macanudo.
While we are proud to embrace an impressive history, our story is still being written.
As we look to our future and the stories we will one day tell, we make every decision with the values and learnings of previous generations in mind.
For more information on some of the cigars outlined here or more stories about Macanudo, explore the Macanudo Moments page.
Making the cigar is only half the journey. Explore the moments and memories Macanudo fans have shared with their cigars.