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Cigar Aficionado's Hall of Fame Class of 2012

Andrew Nagy
From the Print Edition:
Cigar Aficionado's 20th Anniversary, September/October 2012

Fifteen years ago, Cigar Aficionado honored six men for their dedication to the cigar industry by inducting them into the magazine’s Hall of Fame. Those men, industry giants in their respective ways, were Edgar M. Cullman (1918–2011), Zino Davidoff (1906 –1994), Carlos Fuente Sr. (1936–present), Frank Llaneza (1920–2010), Stanford Newman (1916–2006) and Angel Oliva Sr. (1907–1996).

Today, the Class of 2012, made up of nine men, is being inducted into the Cigar Aficionado Hall of Fame. The total number of Hall of Famers now stands at 15. Like their Hall of Fame predecessors, the members of the Class of 2012 have dedicated their lives not only to tobacco, but to improving the overall quality of cigars available in today’s market.

Carlos Fuente Jr.
President, Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia.,
Santiago, Dominican Republic

Carlos “Carlito” Fuente Jr. is one of the most recognizable faces in the premium cigar industry. As president of Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia., Fuente helped his father (and fellow Hall of Famer), Carlos Sr., turn the small family business into a monolith that rolls more than 30 million cigars a year by hand, including the Fuente Fuente OpusX Double Corona, Cigar Aficionado’s 2005 Cigar of the Year.

From a young age, Fuente showed a great interest in tobacco. He sneaked his first cigar at age six and often followed his father and grandfather, Arturo Fuente, around while they attended to cigar business. As he matured, Fuente became more involved in production. He helped his father revive the perfecto shape when the two debuted the Hemingway cigar line, and paid homage to his father with the 1986 release of the Don Carlos brand.

Fuente had another goal in mind—to create a full-bodied cigar made solely of tobaccos grown in the Dominican Republic. In the early 1990s, the Fuentes planted Cuban-seed tobacco in an area that would later be called Chateau de la Fuente. Many told the Fuentes that quality wrapper leaf could not be grown in the Dominican Republic. In 1995, though, Fuente and his father proved their detractors wrong with the release of Fuente Fuente OpusX, a cigar wrapped in a gorgeously dark, shade-grown Dominican wrapper, an industry first.

This year, Fuente, 58, is celebrating the company’s 100th year. He is actively involved in the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit organization he cofounded to create meaningful change to the communities of the Dominican Republic through education, health care and the development of eco-friendly business ventures.

Hendrik Kelner
President, Tabadom Holding Inc.,
Santiago, Dominican Republic

Born and raised in a tobacco family, Hendrik “Henke” Kelner has fittingly been called a tobacco master by many of the most respected people in the cigar industry.

Since 1984, Kelner has been producing Davidoff and Avo cigars,  some of the world’s most popular Dominican cigar brands. Kelner, who operates in a three-factory complex in Villa Gonzalez, also rolls a slew of smaller brands, bringing the total production under his control to about 22 million cigars per year. Kelner, now 67, believes the only way to produce quality cigars is to control the entire cigarmaking process, from seed to shelf. One of his most recent ventures is growing tobacco in the remote Dominican region of Yamasa.


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