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A Conversation with Angel Daniel Núñez

The man behind Macanudo cigars—and the Connecticut shade tobacco grown to wrap them.
David Savona
From the Print Edition:
Dennis Haysbert, Nov/Dec 2006

(continued from page 4)

Q: What did they say when you said it was time to expand the blends?

A: They gave me the go-ahead, and there was no limit on resources. Of course, anything that could actually damage or do anything with Macanudo was a no-no, and always the philosophy was if it is going to be new, we're not going to just change the packaging or change the sizes. We decided the only way was to start from scratch—developing new, proprietary types of tobaccos.

Q: Where did you begin with these changes?

A: One of the biggest accomplishments is the Havana seed grown in Connecticut. Havana seed was brought into the U.S.A. right after World War II, and it adopted a lot of characteristics from Connecticut, and it was crossed. I started with our R&D department, and [in 1994] we grew 240 [plants from] different types [of seeds], and we started evaluating. The first year was 240, and [in 1995] we went up to 600. [With the Havana seed], the characteristics of those leaves in the field, and the aroma in the shed, was so outstanding, that I said, I'm just going to keep working with this, to somehow use it in a blend, because it's so unique. That's why that seed was put aside as a project.

Q: And that Havana became the wrapper for Partagas Black?

A: Yes.

Q: Where did you get these seeds?

A: It was part of the Bayuk Co. Each company used to have inventories of seeds.

Q: So to get a taste for the future you looked to the past.

A: I keep an eye on the future, and two eyes on the past. I don't believe in the present. It has no importance to me. It is ephemeral. When I think about the ultimate cigar, I think about a great marriage between the very best grown in Cuba and the very best grown in the Dominican Republic, as far as long fillers, wrappers and binders. In the meantime, we have already developed new types of tobacco like the Havana grown in Connecticut, the Havana grown in San Agustín [Honduras], the Havana grown in Ometepe [Nicaragua], and the Havana grown in the Dominican. Could you imagine a scenario where some of those tobaccos could be blended with a good Cuban from Remedios, and maybe a good binder from San Agustín, and maybe a wrapper, one leaf from somewhere, and just play with those concepts? Since '94, I've been developing different seeds, and I do believe strongly in Havana-seed flavor, so I grow it in different countries, I have crossed it with Connecticut shade. Some of those crosses are outstanding.

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