Benji and Felix Menendez both learned their craft in Cuba as they were heavily involved in the family business which created the Montecristo brand and was majority owner of the H Upmann factory in Pre-Castro era Cuba. Post-Castro the brothers left Cuba with father Alonso and opened up shop in Spain. After sourcing Brazilian tobacco from the Amerino family they were hooked on the now famed Mata Fina tobacco. Later in the early 1970’s Benji and Felix settled in Brazil and formed Menendez Amerino with the Amerino family. In Brazil during 1970 the brothers together with the Amerino’s,partnered with Arturo Torano andcreated the Alonso Menendez and Dona Flor brand.
The Alonso Menendez brand quickly became Brazil’s best-selling brand and exploded in the European Colonies. Known for its rich, robust and uniquely Brazilian flavor which is unmatched by any other tobacco in the world, it is a corner piece of Menendez Amerino. The Dona Flor brand was created after a friendship was struck between the author of the bestselling book, Dona Flor and her Two Husbands and Mario Amerino. Mario’s name was mentioned in the book so to return the favor they named a cigar brand after the book and the Dona Flor brand was born. Dona Flor is now Brazil’s most popular brand.
In the early 80’s Benji left Brazil to later work with General Cigars and was responsible for creating the award-winning Benjamin Menendez Partagas Master Series Majestuoso. Benji continues to make his family proud has he can now claim to be one of only 15 members in the Cigar Aficionado Hall of Fame.The induction ceremony took place last month at the Grand Havana Room in New York City.
As for younger sibling Felix Menendez, he stayed in Brazil, and oversaw Menendez Amerino which grew into a giant with strong sales in Europe and in South America. The Alonso Menendez and Dona Flor brands continue to be the most popular and are now making a push to create greater awareness of Brazilian tobacco in the U.S.
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