Macanudo: The Evolution of an Icon

Macanudo Edgar Cullman
Edgar Cullman

The story of Macanudo begins with Edgar M. Cullman, a brilliant entrepreneur with a great vision, who built Macanudo to become one of the world’s most successful and enduring handmade cigar brands. Raised by a family of well-respected tobacco dealers, Cullman’s father, Joseph M. Cullman, began growing tobacco in Connecticut in the early 1900s. It was Joseph M. Cullman who pioneered tobacco growing in Connecticut. At one point, the Cullman family cultivated more than 1,800 acres of fine wrapper tobacco there. This very tobacco would later become the foundation of Macanudo.

Edgar Cullman was educated at Yale University and served in the military in Washington, D.C., for the Alien Property Custodians. After his service, learned to roll cigars in New York City in 1944, coincidentally not far from where Macanudo’s luxury cigar lounge, Club Macanudo, is located today. Fast forward to 1961. Edgar Cullman teamed up with a group of investors to purchase General Cigar Company for $25 million. The rest, as they say, is history.

In 1968, the Cullman’s General Cigar Company purchased the Temple Hall factory in Kingston, Jamaica. Temple Hall owned a small brand called Macanudo that was produced for the British market. That would soon change in a big way.

An Icon is Born…

Ramón Cifuentes
Ramón Cifuentes

Once the blend was firmly established, Edgar Cullman set his sights on quality and consistency, turning to legendary Cuban Cigarmaster Ramón Cifuentes. Cifuentes owned Partagas cigars in the pre-Fidel Castro heyday and had been working for the Cullmans since his exodus from Cuba. Cifuentes had a reputation for meticulous attention to detail and was not shy about his rabid devotion to flawless construction. With Edgar Cullman’s blessing, Ramón set forth the exacting standards required for Macanudo cigars, and these methods are still in play today.

With the blend and its standards set in stone, General Cigar began selling Macanudo in 1971, focusing distribution on the best restaurants in the country. The cigars sold extremely well and a market for Macanudo was born. Impactful advertising platforms also started in the 1970s, with magazine, newspaper and radio ads promoting Macanudo as “the ultimate cigar.” Soon, new sizes were added to the Macanudo Café line, and the brand continued its rapid ascent.

Macanudo continues to be made at General Cigar’s factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic, by a team still consisting of those hand-picked by Nuñez to succeed him in the business. Led by Diaz, the artisans who work hand-in-hand with him still maintain a laser focus on upholding Macanudo’s high standards of quality, set forth by the pioneers of the handmade cigar business.