A Conversation with Angel Daniel Núñez
The man behind Macanudo cigars—and the Connecticut shade tobacco grown to wrap them.
From the Print Edition:
Dennis Haysbert, Nov/Dec 2006
(continued from page 2)
Q: So you would never pick this up and handle it?
A: Not anymore. (Laughs) I did it for a sample.
Q: Was it difficult to pick the other tobaccos to go into this blend?
A: No. Everything is planned. We put aside the best binder, the best long filler, to go with this. We've been [doing this] since '94, and in '95 we documented everything—everything is documented in General Cigar—that we must put aside 10 of the best bales that we handle. So when we were working on [the Partagas 160], already the long filler that was going to go with it was part of the process.
Q: Last year, you came out with the Partagas Decadas. Is that the first to use some of that tobacco you've been setting aside each year?
A: That's the first one to use what I had in mind back in 1994. It's to deliver to the consumer something special, something different. The wrapper is 10 years old, the binder is 10 years old. It's just going back, to stay with the basics. Let's not reinvent the wheel.
Q: Speaking of basics, you've taken a remarkable journey, rising to the top of General Cigar. Take me back to growing up as a boy in the Dominican Republic.
A: I was just a kid with a lot of ambition. It comes from my mother. She was a very ambitious lady, and she believed in me since I was a little kid. We are five in my family. My father was a farmer. He grew plantains, a little bit of tobacco, a little bit of everything. My two older brothers were mechanics, and they were very successful. When I finished eighth grade, I won a scholarship to a private school, but I said to my mom, "I don't want to do that, I think I want to go with my brothers and be a mechanic." She said, "You can do that, but you are my only hope of someone to have a life where you wear clean clothes. If you want to be greased up, go with your brothers, but it's your choice." And that's all it took.
Q: So your mother pushed you?
A: My mother used to get up with me at five in the morning to study every single day. And then I enrolled in an agricultural vocational school, with the only conviction that by doing so I would have my secondary degree, which is high school. And if I didn't have enough money to go to college, I could work as an agronomist. And so I did, only with a surprise: the month before I graduated, five Americans came into the room. I was 15 years old, 105 pounds, and they said, "We have a test for a full scholarship to go to Texas A&M." And I won. I didn't speak one word of English, I had never slept away from home, and from a small village in the town of Moca to Houston—it was quite a jump. When I arrived in the United States, it was my first contact with an escalator. That was two hours. Can you imagine, a kid, two hours going up, and down? How can this thing take me up and take me down? (Laughs) It was a lot of fun. Then there were the cowboys. Those were the days of segregation still.
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