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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 5)

Q: You've used many of these different tobaccos for new products, which I'd like to talk about. Consumer expectations for new product are certainly different from when you first came into the business. Is there pressure to come out with something new every year, and if so, is that good or bad for the market?

A: No, there is no pressure. This year we have one new product from Dominican. There are two things we have developed since 1994—tobacco and people. There is no rush. Our bread and butter, the flagships, are still Macanudo and Partagas. And, of course, out of Honduras, Punch. Once again, when we purchased Villazon, it was Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey and Excalibur. Three brands. Now, today, we have the Rare Corojo, the Sumatra, the 1066. That portfolio has been expanded, without any rush. And if you take a Black Label today—it's been three years in the market—it's our commitment that it should taste the same as the first one. It should follow the path of Macanudo and the philosophy of quality and stability.

Q: Is that the most difficult thing about this business? That a Macanudo Hyde Park Café should taste the same today as it did six months, a year ago?

A: Twenty years ago. I keep boxes from every year, and we all test it. That's sacred. We can't play games with that. There is just no way we will change Macanudo—if you smoke one today, it should be the same.

Q: And there's no magic formula?

A: No, you have to play with it. That's why you need four years of inventory, to keep it stable. Because you will have crops that will be a little bit heavier, a little bit lighter, and you make adjustments.

Q: I know you have to make adjustments, but are they ever so dramatic that you change a country?

A: No. We might eliminate a crop, as we did in '98. Not one Macanudo was made with '98 crop. Not a single one. And I can tell you that this event represented a tremendous financial loss. Because not one leaf made it to the minimum standard of Macanudo.

Q: That's a huge decision. What happened in '98 to cause that?

A: It was a bad year, not only in Connecticut, but also in Dominican and Mexico. In Cameroon. That was when El Niño hit. I still have piloto Cubano tobacco left from that. I'm going to use it all for short filler.

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