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An Interview with Manuel Quesada

Owner, MATASA, makers of Fonseca, Licenciados, Romeo y Julieta, Jose Benito, Cubita, Royal Dominicana, Credo and Casa Blanca cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Denzel Washington, Jan/Feb 98

(continued from page 15)

CA: I'm not talking about quantity, I'm only talking about quality.

Quesada: If we had had enough tobacco of the quality that we're looking for, we would have been supplying the market in the numbers that the market needed. We didn't; therefore, a huge shortage occurred. But we didn't play with the quality, so we didn't have the cigars.

CA: Do you think that what you just said applies to the other manufacturers as well?

Quesada: There are a number of manufacturers that I respect enormously and have committed themselves to that principle, and I can probably name a whole bunch of them, but...

CA: Given the influx of so many new factories--I've heard that there's some 30 new factories. Is that approximately right?

Quesada: It sounds right, but the exact numbers are very hard to judge.

CA: OK. But then, where are these new factories getting the tobacco from, and what kind of tobacco is it?

Quesada: There are two areas where the new factories are finding tobacco. One is from nontraditional areas of growing, even in Dominican Republic, for example. And in countries from which we have never used tobaccos. European markets have used these tobaccos always, but we, in this part of the world, have never used those tobaccos. I am talking about Italy, Germany, Indonesia, Philippines, Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia. These are countries that have produced tobacco always, but mostly for short-filler cigars in Europe, and cigarettes.

CA: Can you smoke those cigars and tell the difference?

Quesada: You can probably tell that they have tobaccos from those countries of origin because they have distinctive tastes. However, if you blend in very minute quantities with more Dominican and more Nicaraguan, more Honduran, you could probably hide some of those tobaccos in a blend. But you need to have the other tobaccos to hide those in.

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