Cuban Cigar Luminary Enrique Mons Dies

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.

"He made me an espresso and pulled a cigar from his shirt pocket and handed it to me. It was a lonsdale which was not my style but when Enrique Mons hands you a cigar, you take it. At that time, he called it the Mons Dali, later to become the Monsdale. It was heaven. I visited with him a few years later and asked for the Mons Dali. He laughed and pulled one out. I asked him if it had gotten longer since last time. He said his doctor had told him to cut back from the 10 to 12 cigars he smoked daily. So he made it longer to smoke fewer! Genius. It was an honor. Well done, Enrique. RIP, amigo." —March 25, 2014 17:11 PM
"The world lost a great CIGAR legend. Thanks for all the knowledge you had, and passed on to people like myself. May you rest in PEACE. Jose Ramos - AMANO CIGARS South Africa" —March 25, 2014 16:01 PM
"RIP Friend." —March 21, 2014 11:57 AM
"I just still can't believe it's true. Condolences to his family and may G-D comfort them. The cigar world has lost a beacon of light. I will miss you terribly tio." —March 21, 2014 09:36 AM
"Thrilled to have met him twice. Requiescat in pace. If prayers are smoke, heaven should be nice." —March 20, 2014 21:19 PM
"The cigar world has lost a cherished voice. Many of us have lost a cherished friend. RIP Maestro." —March 20, 2014 00:43 AM