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Interview: Frank Llaneza of Villazon

A discussion with the president of Villazon & Co., makers of Hoyo de Monterrey and Punch.
Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
John Travolta, Jan/Feb 99

(continued from page 13)

CA: What did you do?

Llaneza: Mr. Oliva brought me tobacco from three farms that were growing tobacco in Ecuador. He also had his own farm that he had purchased from a former employee of the American Tobacco Co. They were losing money, and it was going to be closed up. But Mr. Oliva bought it. He started making fire-cured wrapper there. We had already tested the natural wrappers, but he had one farm that had a distinctive taste and had the flavor that we needed.

CA: Was it Connecticut-seed wrapper or was it Cuban-seed wrapper?

Llaneza: No, it was Sumatran.

CA: Wasn't it a big change for your cigars?

Llaneza: A big change.

CA: When did that change take place?

Llaneza: Almost immediately. I would say 1980-'81. We had to make that transformation because we didn't have that kind of inventory of Nicaraguan wrappers.

CA: In the late '70s, I remember, the Nicaraguan wrappers were just like great Cuban wrappers. They were brick-red and smooth.

Llaneza: Yeah, a brick color, like this [Holds up a sample cigar].

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