The Canary Islands have a long-standing cigar making tradition dating back to the eighteenth century, and many of the key cigar factories in Havana were established by former Canary Islanders. Canary Island cigars had a strong U.S. following through the 1960s and '70s, mainly due to the Menendez and Garcia families, who earlier had established the reputation of Cuba's H. Upmann factory. They had left Havana for the Canaries after the Cuban Revolution, setting up a factory on Gran Canaria island. Their key brand, Montecruz, was top quality, the leading premium cigar brand sold in the United States in the 1960s.
Canarian cigar manufacturers often reminisce about the good old days, when they had all the tobacco, workers and sales that they needed. In the 1970s, Canary Island cigars had a strong following in the United States, mostly with such brands as Don Diego, Flamenco, Montecruz, Casa Buena and Don Alvaro (short filler). Montecruz sold nearly seven million cigars a year, mostly in the U.S. market, which annually consumed close to 20 million cigars from the islands at the time. That was in a total premium cigar market of 50 million to 55 million. The popularity of Canary Island cigars continued until the early 1980s, when prices substantially increased because of changes in duties as well as labor cost increases after Spain entered the Common Market, in 1985. The price increases literally priced Canary Island cigars out of the market.
The Profesor Sila cigars were at one time also produced in the Canary Islands, but have, like many other manufacturers, moved production to Santiago, Dominicana Republica to reduce the cost to produce their brands. The company recently introduced two new brands in 1997, one of which, the medium-bodied Navegador, is comprised of all Dominican binder and filler tobaccos and an Ecuadorian Sumatran wrapper. The line is available in eight sizes, five of which are variations of coronas. The Santa Maria line is a more full-bodied interpretation of its sister brand, boasting of a double binder which makes use of both Dominican and Indonesian tobaccos.