The History of Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey Cigars

March 4, 2019

For many generations, the name Hoyo de Monterrey has been synonymous with cigar smoking perfection, tradition, and premium quality. It’s one of the oldest Cuban heritage cigar brands in existence and remains one of the most sought-after smokes on the planet. Today there are two different versions of Hoyo de Monterrey cigars, one being the Cuban and the other Honduran. While these two brands are produced in different countries, they both share the same historical origins.

The story of Hoyo de Monterrey begins in 1831 when a 13-year-old boy named Don Jose Gener y Batet arrived on the island of Cuba from Spain. For 20 years, Gener worked on his uncle’s tobacco plantation in the Vuelta Abajo region— a lush fertile valley north of Havana with the perfect climate and soil for growing tobacco. After mastering his trade, Gener opened his own cigar factory in Havana and began producing his first brand, La Escepción, which still has a counterpart that ’s being produced in Honduras today.  La Escepción became so enormously popular and profitable that Gener seized this opportunity to purchase the best tobacco farm in the country, and named a new brand of cigars after it called Hoyo de Monterrey.

The Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey cigars became an instant success, and production continued with the Gener family into the 1930s, where Hoyo de Monterrey became the largest cigar factory in Cuba. The brand was then purchased by the Fernandez, Palicio y Cia Company, which already produced the popular Punch and Belinda cigars— Two more world class premium cigar brands still being made in both Cuba and Honduras.

The Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey brand even played a part in the early stages of the Davidoff brands rise to fame in the 1940s, when the company produced the luxurious Hoyo and Chateaux series specifically for a Swiss distributor. The Chateaux line caught the attention of famed Swiss tobacco merchant Zino Davidoff, and he would achieve great success marketing the brand, so much so, that the Cuban government contacted Davidoff to establish a brand of cigars under their own name. This milestone began Davidoff’s domination of high-end luxury cigars that continues today.

In 1962, President Kennedy implemented a unilateral trade embargo against Cuba as a countermeasure to Castro’s pro-Communist stance, a prohibition that has remained intact for over five decades. The initial negative effect was that the Cuban cigar industry now saw their biggest market, the United States, off limits. The positive, however, was the creation of a global cigar industry. Up to this point, nearly all premium cigars were crafted in Cuba. This embargo forced many of the most prominent Cuban cigar manufacturers to move throughout South and Central America to create brands that could be legally sold in the U.S.A. One such manufacturer, the Villazon Company, headed by Fernando Palicio, took this opportunity to establish the Hoyo de Monterrey brand in Honduras where it becomes one of the first premium brands to be manufactured outside of Cuba.

The Honduran versions of Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey have seen renowned success in the United States and have a cemented place on the shelves of American tobacconists. In the 1990s the Villazon Company was sold to General Cigar, who continues production of Hoyo de Monterrey cigars today. In addition to Honduras, General owns factories in the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua, where they produce top-shelf brands like Excalibur, Cohiba, Macanudo, Partagas, La Gloria Cubana, and many more, making them one of the biggest names in the industry.

Now under the control of Habanos SA, the government-owned national tobacco company, The Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey cigar remains a prized smoke among true aficionados that either reside or travel abroad, and if you are lucky enough to get your hands on some, you will experience a handmade premium cigar of the finest quality, taste, and pedigree.

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