Enrique Mons, an icon of Havana's cigar retail scene for 25 years, died Monday night at the age of 71.
Mons grew up in a tobacco family, working as a tobacco selector at a factory in Cuba's famed Pinar del Río region before moving to Havana in 1959. It was there that he trained as a cigar roller for two years and then began working in the Heroes del Moncada and José Piedra cigar factories.
In 1971, he was promoted to quality control director for Cubatabaco, the state-owned entity that owned all Cuban cigar brands at the time, where he spent 18 years before being named the director of Havana's first La Casa del Habano cigar shop on Quinta Avenida and 16th Street. Ten years later, in 1999, he helped open a second shop, Casa del Habano at Club Habana, where he was a familiar sight until his death.
The Club Habana shop features two cigar rolling stations that produce Mons' "Monsdale" cigar, which was the cigar luminary's own take on the lonsdale size. Slightly thicker than a normal panetela and rolled with a pigtail cap, the Monsdale has achieved cult status among Habanophiles.
"Cigars have brought me everything, from the people I've met, the countries I've visited, the hotels I've stayed in. What is a Habanos cigar to me? I couldn't have done those things any other way," Mons told Cigar Aficionado in a 2012 interview.
Mons is survived by his wife, Josefina, and four children.