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An Interview with Manuel Quesada

Owner, MATASA, makers of Fonseca, Licenciados, Romeo y Julieta, Jose Benito, Cubita, Royal Dominicana, Credo and Casa Blanca cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Denzel Washington, Jan/Feb 98

(continued from page 16)

CA: Has there ever been controversy over a Dominican cigar not having all of its raw material grown in the Dominican Republic, which also really applies to many other countries with the exception of Cuba?

Quesada: No. There never has been controversy because the concept of Dominican Republic has always been a blend, and a blend necessitates different origins to make a product. We have been always blending, so we know that the Dominican element is present, but the quantity will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, the basis, and this perhaps is where your question is coming from, the basis of the blend in the filler, in the binder has been Dominican and without quoting numbers among manufacturers, 60 percent to 80 percent of the filler and binder blends were from Dominican Republic always.

CA: What percent of handmade Dominican cigars are Connecticut wrapper?

Quesada: Well, the traditional brands are definitely using Connecticut tobacco. The nontraditional are not using Connecticut, because it is not available to them.

CA: What's your take on the potential for Dominican-grown wrapper tobacco, and do you have any sense or plan to grow it or buy it or in putting your cigars in it in the near term?

Quesada: Well, Dominican Republic has been toying with the idea of a wrapper for decades now, and a number or projects have been done in Dominican Republic since the late 60s, early '70's. None were anywhere close to successful until three or four years ago, when the Fuentes took over the now Oliva farm and started growing wrapper. And that has proven that wrapper can be grown in Dominican Republic.

CA: Do you and other manufacturers have plans to get into that market?

Quesada: Yes. There are some experiments in some of the farms that are controlled by different manufacturers. But they are still experimenting with different seeds and different variations of growing conditions with an eye towards the future.

CA: Do you have a specific plan to have someday a 100-percent Dominican brand?

Quesada: Our goal is to accomplish that; whether we are successful or not, we don't know yet. We are toying with it and we are experimenting with it.


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