Cigar Aficionado's Hall of Fame
Six men who dedicated their lives to building the cigar industry -- and improving the cigars we smoke
From the Print Edition:
10th Anniversary Issue, Nov/Dec 02
EDGAR M. CULLMAN
Chairman, General Cigar Holdings Inc., New York City
Edgar Cullman has won a string of tobacco industry accolades, but his greatest pride comes from the consistency of his Macanudo cigars. Cullman, 84, has called the success of the brand "the most rewarding experience of my life" -- a weighty statement from a man with the following curriculum vitae.
In 1961, Cullman decided that the future lay in cigar making, so he assembled a group of investors and bought General Cigar Co. He was 43. At that time, General's main business was machine-made cigars, including White Owl, William Penn and Robert Burns. The company bought its first premium brand, Gold Label, in 1963, and the Temple Hall factory in Jamaica in 1969. The sale included Macanudo, a brand that wasn't sold in the United States at the time. Cullman launched Macanudo in 1971 with the slogan "the ultimate cigar." He purchased the U.S. rights to Partagas from Cuba's Cifuentes family in 1974, and the two brands have anchored General's premium cigar business ever since.
In 2000, Swedish Match AB acquired 64 percent of General Cigar, but Cullman and his son, chief executive officer Edgar M. Cullman Jr., manage the company. The elder Cullman still reports to his offices every day. His preferred smoke is a Macanudo Vintage No. IV, but on special occasions, he'll dip into his treasure trove of pre-Castro Cubans. And he enjoys his work. "I think it's the most romantic business," he says. "I love it. I love the business."
Founder, Davidoff et Cie., Geneva
Davidoff's father urged him to visit tobacco lands, and after stints in Argentina and Brazil, the 20-year-old landed in Cuba, where he spent two years on a tobacco farm. His Cuban years gave him an appreciation for Havanas, which he would spread like gospel for the rest of his life.
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