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 7)
CA: Do you see the day when the next generation--your children [Editor's note: Carlos Jr. and his wife, Rosita, have three daughters: Liana, 18, Lidiana, 9, and newborn, Carla Sophia], Cynthia's and Wayne's children, all the grandchildren of your father--will come into the business?
Fuente:My father taught us well. But he never tried to push us into the business, though it was always there if we wanted. Because he knows, and he knew back then, that you have to be totally committed to cigars to be successful. And he knew that is something that you can't teach someone, that it has to come from within. And in the same way, I believe Cynthia and I will not try to [push] our children, but it will be there for them. And, at this moment, thinking of my last moment on earth, if I could have my wish, it would be that I would see my family healthy, my nephews and nieces healthy, and see our children following in our footsteps.
CA: Your standard cigar, the Arturo Fuente, has always been described as a fuller-bodied cigar than the type of cigar that was historically popular in the American market. Given the success of Arturo Fuente, do you think the American palatte has evolved? Do Americans today prefer stronger cigars?
Fuente:I believe there's a very, very small minority of Americans that prefer stronger cigars. But our heritage is Cuban. The way we make cigars, the way my father blends cigars, was taught by my grandfather. Before the embargo, we made cigars strictly of Cuban tobacco. Our heart was in Cuban tobacco. After the embargo, we were forced to look for other tobaccos, but it was always that love, that heritage, that we adhere to because that's really what we feel with our hearts. Therefore, we make a cigar with that kind of complexity often found in Cuban cigars, yet always trying to achieve finesse and balance.
CA: Your cigar sales keep growing and growing, which would lead one to believe that more and more people are looking for a richer, stronger taste.
Fuente:There's no question that there was a time in the United States when people wanted things light. The secret to a great cigar is to achieve as much taste as possible while still maintaining balance and finesse.
CA: Some people still get a little bit confused because you have a red-and-green band and a red-and-black band. There are different bands for the Arturo Fuente line and the Don Carlos line. Is there any easy explanation for the difference in the bands?
Fuente:The classic Arturo Fuente, the red-and-green band, comes from my grandfather's day. He had a red band, but there was a green tax seal placed under the band, and so the ring of green showed around the red band. When the tax seal practice ended after the embargo, we created a red-and-green band for the classic Fuente brand, which was the Flor Fina 8-5-8, which is the flagship of Arturo Fuente cigars. And the reason I say the flagship, it is because it was the blend that my grandfather created after the Cuban embargo. That was his personal blend. But it's sad, because my grandfather never saw that blend for sale on the market. It wasn't until after my grandfather passed away that my father brought out that blend in my grandfather's honor. The reason he named it Flor Fina 8-5-8 was because my grandfather was 85 years old when he passed away and my father wanted the name to represent something from beginning to end. It represents the heritage and the tradition that my grandfather left us through his lifetime.
CA: What about the red-and-black band?
Fuente:The red-and-black is different from the Flor Fina, or classic, Arturo Fuente blend. It's a little bit heavier and the tobaccos are aged just a little bit longer.
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