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Cigar Diary: Mexico's Cigar King

Max Gutmann is one of the world's great collectors of Cuban cigars as well as Mexico's official Cuban cigar agent.
James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
Armand Assante, Mar/Apr 2008

(continued from page 6)

I said to myself, "If I tell them that they need to pay me for the use, what can they do? They didn't have money at the time. They couldn't even afford to grow the tobacco crop at the time. And if I say no, they won't sell me cigars." So I gave them half of my business and I said to them, "Don't forget that I was the first one!" It's like never forgetting your first love. That's all I cared about at the time.

CA: So when did you become the agent for Cuban cigars?

Gutmann: It was two years later. The agent for Cuban cigars was involved with liquor. They were the people from Domecq brandy. We spoke to them and they were not interested in Cuban cigars anyway. For them, it was a relief to get rid of it...so we took it over from them.

CA: When was that exactly?

Gutmann: 1994. They must have been sorry in the end that they gave up the distribution because the cigar boom started after that.

CA: Do you remember the first time you smoked a cigar?

Gutmann: I remember very well. I had a French-Moroccan brother-in-law and he smoked Cuban cigars all the time. I used to smoke cigarettes. He said, "Max, why do you smoke cigarettes? They are so bad for you. Why don't you smoke cigars?" And he pushed and pushed and pushed, and finally I smoked a cigar. I didn't like it at first. But then a couple of days later I tried another one. It was after a great dinner with really good food and wine, and it was a lot better. And from then on, I loved smoking cigars.

CA: What was it?

Gutmann: It was a Partagas Lusitania. I thought I should start with a smaller cigar, but he insisted that I smoke the double corona.

CA: When did you start collecting cigars?


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