The father-son team that runs Mexico's largest cigar-tobacco operation and makes the famous Te-Amo brand discusses the family's 110-year history of growing in that country.
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Q: And how old will that wrapper be?
Alejandro Turrent: Again, I think about 10 years. But as we were looking for some tobacco, we found two bales, three bales. That will be very, very limited.
Alberto Turrent: It's an accident, to have all this old tobacco. Normally we ship to customers by containers. For maduro, a full container holds 120 bales. Maybe at the end of the crop, we produce 150 bales. So we can't ship 30, and we keep it. Then we looked at inventory, and we said, "Wow." Really, it was an accident.
Q: That's a happy accident. What's your favorite size cigar to smoke?
Alberto Turrent: Most of the time, I like robustos. I cannot smoke the big ones. The Churchill is too long—I love the robustos.
Q: And you?
Alejandro Turrent: 48 by 5—a robusto.
Alberto Turrent: I smoke all the cigars to taste them—but when I smoke for pleasure, I smoke robustos. When I go to a restaurant, and I don't have too much time, I might smoke a corona size.
Q: What is special about the tobacco grown in Mexico? What are some of the defining characteristics?
Alberto Turrent: It's sweet. It's very good for blending. It's not very dominant, the Criollo. And I think the Havana-seed tobacco is also very sweet.
Q: What about the soil?
Alberto Turrent: It's very rich, volcanic soil.
Q: Do you have to use a lot of fertilizer?
Alberto Turrent: We use beans, legumes. It's a special bean that we grow on the land—60 tons of green material. We plow that in, for natural fertilizer. Organic material.
Q: How many acres of land do you grow on in San Andrés?
Alberto Turrent: All San Andrés? It's about 2,000 acres. That includes wrappers and fillers. And it was double in the boom [during the mid-1990s].
Q: And you're the biggest growers of cigar
tobacco in Mexico?
Alberto Turrent: Yes.
Q: What else should our readers know about your cigars and your tobacco that they don't know already?
Alejandro Turrent: We are vertically integrated, keeping the control from the tobacco in the fields to the end of the process. Now we are trying to grow each seed according to soil that is better for it. Also, selecting different cuts, different primings, and separating each leaf. Back when we only made Te-Amo, the blend was not a big secret—it was light tobacco, dark tobacco, Sumatra wrapper, and some sizes dark binder, others light binder—that was it. Now we have four different blends, different types of tobaccos, different years . . .
Alberto Turrent: And we have very good maduro wrappers.
Q: So Alejandro, you're the sixth-generation Turrent to grow tobacco?
Alejandro Turrent: No, my son is.
Q: How old is he?
Alejandro Turrent: Almost two. [He turned two in October.]
Q: And what's his name?
Alejandro Turrent: Alejandro.
Q: I know he's young, but I'm willing to bet that he enters the cigar business.