General Cigar Co. is one of the world's leading manufacturers and marketers of premium cigars. With a corporate history that spans over 50 years, General's cigar manufacturing operations are located in The Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua. All combined, they encompass a stable of the world's best cigar brands including Macanudo, Partagas, La Gloria Cubana, CAO, Hoyo de Monterrey, Excalibur, Foundry, and Cohiba cigars.
The General Cigar story actually began in 1848, when German wine merchant, Ferdinand Kullman, emigrated to the United States. Upon his arrival, Kullman anglicized his surname by changing its spelling to Cullman and set up his wine business. He later expanded the by making and selling cigars with his son Joseph Cullman as the company's tobacco merchant.
In 1904, Joseph Cullman Jr. joined his father in the tobacco business and the company was incorporated under the name Cullman Brothers. Together they began developing their renowned Connecticut Shade tobacco. Grown from Cuban tobacco seeds, this mild and naturally sweet wrapper leaf became the Cullman family's crowning achievement. This leaf not only set the industry standard for growing the best Connecticut Shade tobacco; it would also be used as the wrapper for Macanudo cigars and many other premium cigars to come.
By the end of World War II, Edgar Cullman Sr. had become the fourth generation patriarch to become a partner at Cullman Brothers. Edgar learned the tobacco business from seedling to rolling, and this newfound knowledge helped make Cullman Brothers one of the most sought-after tobacco merchants by cigar makers in the industry. This success inspired Edgar to make his own cigars, and in 1960 he purchased the General Cigar Company, who, at that time made Van Dyck, Robert Burns, William Penn, and White Owl cigars.
In 1968 General Cigar acquired Temple Hall, a Jamaican cigar factory that made Macanudo cigars. At the time, the Macanudo brand was just a blip on the radar screen, produced only for the British market in small batches. Cullman was determined to increase sales, but it would take a makeover of the blend and quality of the cigars to do it.
Enter Ramón Cifuentes, the renowned master blender for Cuban Partagas cigars, whom Cullman hired to implement the traditional Cuban standards and methods for making handmade cigars.
In 1971, the Macanudo cigar that smokers know and love today was introduced in the U.S. with a new and unique blend of tobacco grown exclusively by General Cigar, and to this day the brand has never looked back, having become the bestselling premium cigar in the United States.
Over the years, other famous Cuban cigar trademarks were licensed and added to the company portfolio including Partagas, Cohiba, which, along with Macanudo, are now made in The Dominican Republic. Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey were added after General acquired leading Honduran cigar makers, Villazon & Company, in 1977.
In 1999 General sold its mass-market cigar business to Swedish Match AB, who purchased the El Credito Factory in Miami, the manufacturer of La Gloria Cubana cigars.
By 2010, Swedish Match contracted with the Plasencia Group to develop and expand leaf growing, processing, and cigar-making operations in Nicaragua and Honduras. Later that same year, the company merged with Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG), which added CAO Cigars to their ever-expanding selection, and today, General Cigar is the second largest cigar company in the world.