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Edgar Cullman Jr.

CEO, General Cigar Company
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Demi Moore, Autumn 96

(continued from page 8)

Cullman: We're not interested in selling it. We want to develop it.

CA: But why is it that other people can launch new brands of very high quality?

Cullman: I'll be very frank with you, Marvin--the number of unique tastes that are out there today, are not that significant. Once you get beyond a Dominican style cigar and I would say a Honduras/Nicaraguan, there isn't that much. But Opus X is a very interesting new cigar, even thought it's not available in any quantity so that consumers can really taste it. But it really is the germ of some very interesting new approaches to a new taste in the cigar business. That's what we're looking for and we're working very hard as the Fuentes [Tabacalera A. Fuente in the Dominican Republic] were before us. Unfortunately, we didn't get going as fast as they did. But we are very interested in developing new tastes. It will only come from experimentation. You can only grow a crop of tobacco once a year.

CA: You mentioned Opus X. I was thinking of Opus X among a number of brands from the Dominican Republic as well as Honduras. Are you doing anything in terms of experimentation or growing wrapper tobacco in the Dominican Republic?

Cullman: Yes. We've always grown wrapper tobacco in the Dominican Republic. We still grow it. What we grow mostly is candela. Candela is the green, fire-cured tobacco that is used as wrappers for many of our Garcia y Vega cigars. It is not used on premium cigars very much, but it is quite popular in the domestic [machine-made] end. We're doing a lot of experimentation in terms of new seeds and variations of seeds and taking variations of filler and binder tobaccos in the Dominican Republic, in Mexico where we grow also, and in Connecticut.

CA: Are you today growing wrappers in areas within the Dominican Republic that are conducive to the kind of quality wrapper that the Fuentes is producing?

Cullman: Yes.

CA: Is the quality high enough to be destined for future General Cigar products?

Cullman: Yes. Definitely. Absolutely. That's exactly what we're doing.

CA: Could you expand on it, I mean, where, how big, how soon?

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