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Two New Havana Cigar Releases Into The UK Market

At their 9th Summer Cigar Party on June 14, 2016 at The Corinthia London, Hunters & Frankau (H&F) offered the first samples of two new Havana cigars – the Montecristo Aniversario 80 and the 2016 UK Regional Edition the Juan Lopez Seleccion Superba. According to Jemma Freeman, H&F’s Managing Director, both cigars caught the last possible plane out of Havana that would allow their presence at the spectacular event. “We are hoping that the Montecristo 80 will be available more widely in the next month or so and are expecting the Juan Lopez Superba in autumn”, Freeman said.

Montecristo was founded in 1935, so 2015 was its 80th Anniversary year. “No doubt that is true in Cuba, but it is not the case in this country”, Mrs. Freeman explained. “In an article that appeared in the August 1935 issue of Habano Magazine, Alonso Menendez of Particulares S.A. made the first ever mention in print of his new brand called Montecristo. He went on to say that his partner José-Manuel (Pépé) García would shortly be visiting England. Pépé Garcia’s goal in London was to find an importer for Montecristo. Legend has it that he visited all the major British companies but none of them showed the slightest interest for his new brand until he arrived at John Hunter, Morris & Elkan Ltd, one of the forebears of Hunters & Frankau. It was here that the thirty-five year old Managing Director, a former Royal Air Force pilot called Jack Benham, saw the potential for a more modern style of Havana brand. On 10th February 1936 Hunters received a letter for Alonso Menendez at Particulares (see scan), offering the company a 15 year, exclusive contract for Montecristo in the English market. Amazingly this relationship with the brand has continued ever since despite the effects of a World War and a Revolution. So, as you see, 2016 is really is the 80th Anniversary of Montecristo in the UK”, as Mrs. Freeman illustrated.letter-alonso_menendez

The Montecristo Aniversario 80 is a unique vitola with a ring gauge of 55 and a length of 6 ½ inches (165mm). H&F’s Summer Party was the first time that the finished product has been presented outside Cuba in its commemorative box of 20 cigars.

Juan Lopez Seleccion Superba is a Geniales size like the Montecristo Open Eagle, 54 ring gauge by 5 ⅞ inches (150mm), Hunters & Frankau’s UK regional Edition for this year. The last time H&F offered a Juan Lopez was in 2009 when it was another large vitola, the Seleccion Suprema. Once again H&F have printed a special band with the size name on it. But this time H&F also recreated an old Tapaclava label, which covers the nail on the labelled box of 10 cigars. It has been beautifully modelled on an original example found in the collection of Peter Vrijdag, the Dutch printer whose company, Vrijdag Premium Printing, produced it for H&F.

To accompany the cigars Hunters & Frankau offered some exceptional rum – Havana Club’s ultra premium Tributo 2016. This is the first of a new series of limited edition rums created with exceptional reserves set to be unveiled once a year. Only 2,500 bottles were released.

Reinhold C. Widmayer

His journalistic career began in 1979 as a freelancer for German-language newspapers in the US, and later for Austrian media including Die Wochenpresse and Das Wirtschaftsblatt. For ten years he also produced programs for over 60 radio stations around the world. In 1994, Reinhold C. Widmayer devoted himself to all things cigar, publishing technical articles in cigar magazines. He began working for Cigar Journal in 2001 and became editor-in-chief in 2005; under his auspices the journal has established itself as the world’s leading cigar magazine.


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