Carlos Fuente Jr. has become one of the most recognizable people in the cigar business. While at the helm of Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia., he has seen the company rise to one of the preeminent positions in the industry.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
John F. Kennedy, Nov/Dec 98
(continued from page 16)
CA: But you've never lived in the Cameroon, and you use a lot of Cameroon tobacco. What's happening in the Cameroon today?
Fuente:We do use a lot of Cameroon. I see the future of Cameroon as very positive. The tobacco continues to improve, and with the Meerapfel family running their wrapper farming operation and overseeing the tobacco production, there has been an incredible improvement in the tobacco.
CA: Which of your brands carry the Cameroon wrapper?
Fuente:Cameroon is used on the Arturo Fuente brand, principally the Don Carlos.
CA: Are most of your other brands basically Connecticut-shade-wrapper cigars, like the Ashton, for instance?
Fuente:Yes, Ashton, Cuesta-Rey, they are both generally Connecticut-shade-wrapper cigars. And most of the other ones are at least Connecticut-seed wrapper. For the Hemingway series, we use a Connecticut-shade wrapper, although all of the Don Carlos line is Cameroon wrapper. We use a Connecticut sun-grown for the maduros, and we use Ecuador wrappers from the Oliva family for some Arturo Fuente cigars, depending on the size. We're going to introduce in the Chateau Fuente series a special aged wrapper grown by the Olivas in Ecuador, which we've been aging for a couple of years now.
CA: Where do you see the premium handmade cigar market going in the next five or 10 years?
Fuente:Believe it or not, Marvin, I really don't follow the industry too much. I stay focused inside our four walls. I don't look to see what's coming outside. Of course, it's clear that we are in a cleanup period. I think that the interest for premium cigars is still growing; I think that people are maturing, too. They understand cigars better today. The average consumer has become very sophisticated and much more appreciative. And I see the cigar business adjusting itself to those new consumers. The best news is that there's still a growing interest in cigars and I see it as a very, very positive trend. Things have never been better for us.
CA: Do you have any plans to add new factories in the Dominican Republic or anywhere else, such as Nicaragua?
Fuente:If necessary, but I would like to see us keep building what we have in the Dominican Republic. I really believe that the Dominican Republic has been extremely good for us and, in life, we have to give something back when something has been given to us. I really believe that I could, or my family could, give more to cigar lovers by continuously struggling to improve what we've achieved in the Dominican Republic rather than go to other countries and divide ourselves. I really believe there's so much yet to be done in the Dominican Republic and I think as a part of history it's important that we continue to contribute as much as we can there.
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