Produced in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, Macanudo Cigars are some of the number one selling premium brand in the United States. And while this partly has to do with the fact that they’re, well, available in the America (not being Cuban), it’s mostly because Macanudos are distinctive, subtle, and tasty – unlike some brands, I’d say they definitely live up to the word “premium.”
To learn a bit about Macanudo, I had to dig deep. Pretty much every cigar company I’ve researched has a long and convoluted history. But Macanudo is a bit more difficult, and Macanudo’s history is sort of like a cigar itself – the brand (and the family that owns it) needed the influence of several generations to truly develop.
Macanudo is owned by the General Cigar Company, and is their most prestigious brand. There’s not much to tell about the original owners of Macanudo, who sold the brand and the production factory to General Cigar in 1968. And part of the reason for the previous owners are considered unremarkable, I’ve gathered, is because General Cigar is what made Macanudo the cigar it is today.
Unless you’ve beefed-up on your cigar history, you probably imagine a company called General Cigar to be the Kellog’s or Kraft of the cigar industry. It might be a little disappointing to think that your favorite cigar might be part of a big conglomerate rather than a small company. But the name is misleading. Like most of the best cigar manufacturers, General Cigar actually began as a small, family-owned company, and is still overseen by the same owners today.
The first of this entrepreneurial family to come to America in 1848 was Ferdinand Cullman… and Ferdinand made cigars. Not much is known about Ferdinand’s cigar business, and it seems he didn’t do particularly well. Early on, there wasn’t a lot of success for the Cullmans in the cigar business. In fact, Ferdinand’s son, Joseph, also worked in tobacco but had to play piano in the evenings to supplement his income.
It was Joseph Cullman’s son, Joseph Jr., who had the spark of a crazy idea that would turn Macanudo Cigars into what they are today. Despite the fact that his father thought him nuts, Joseph Jr. began to plant Havana seed in the fields of Connecticut. And the tobacco surpassed all expectations – the light, distinctive wrappers still used in Macanudo cigars today were a huge hit among customers. They transformed the family’s cigars… even the brands, like Macanudo, they didn’t yet own.
While Joseph Jr. and his Connecticut wrapper started the family on the road to becoming one of the most successful cigar manufacturers in the world, it’s his son, Edgar Cullman, who made the Cullman cigar truly distinctive. To really learn the business, Edgar Cullman spent time rolling and cultivating tobacco – he really wanted to understand cigars, to get a feel for the leaf and how to work it. He wanted to create one of the best cigars in the world.
But Edgar had to have a company, and so bought General Cigar Company in 1960 and Macanudo in 1968. Cullman wanted to do something really distinctive with the brand. So he worked with a partner to combine his father’s beloved Connecticut Shade wrapper with a unique mix of aged tobacco… and history, you could say, was made. Macanudo’s distinctive blend quickly transformed it into one of the premier cigar brands in the world.
A now-bald Edgar still runs the company today, and makes time to watch the rolling of his cigars… and probably smoke a few, too.