Arsenio Ramos, the master blender at Aganorsa Leaf, died this weekend at his home in Pinar del Río, Cuba. He was 83 years old, and passed on September 15.
Born December 14th, 1934, Ramos knew Cuban tobacco like few others, and spent decades working for Cuba’s tobacco industry. He was the head of processing for Cubatabaco for the tobaccos grown in Pinar del Río, specializing in the critical step of tobacco fermentation. When he reached retirement age, he met Eduardo Fernández, the owner of Aganorsa, the major grower of Nicaraguan tobaccos, and joined his company. He worked for 18 years with Aganorsa and Fernández, making cigar blend after cigar blend.
“He was a good man and a giant in our industry,” Eduardo Fernández told Cigar Aficionado. “We will miss him greatly. He was the foundation of everything we’ve done.”
In a 2012 story in Cigar Aficionado, Ramos spoke about the philosophy and science of growing tobacco while standing in familiar territory for him, a field of verdant green Cuban-seed tobacco, swaying in the tropical breeze. “Tobacco requires tender loving care from the seedling to the ash,” he said while lighting one of his ever-present cigars. “There are 292 times when the human hand comes into contact with the cigarmaking process. The soil is very important, the climate is very important and the man is even more important.”
He had a rich sense of humor to pair with his immense knowledge. At one point when he was showing a visitor how tobaccos pair well together, he put two small cigars in his mouth at the same time, and puffed away happily.
Ramos has a cigar that bears his name, the Casa Fernandez Arsenio. He is survived by his wife, his son and his daughter.