Country: Dominican Republic
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
Price: $8.85 - $12.60
Available in 7 sizes:
No. 4 (5 1/8 x 43)
Robusto (5 x 50)
Belicoso (5 3/8 x 52) [pictured]
No. 3 (5 ½ x 44)
Double Robusto (5 ¾ x 52)
No. 2 (6 x 55)
Presidente (6 ½ x 50)
Carlos Fuente, Jr.
President of Arturo Fuente Cigar Company
Cameroon wrappers have played a key role in some of Fuente’s most significant releases. What is it that you love about that wrapper?
I inherited that love from my father because he was using Cameroon back in the ‘70s. He used it on some of the very finest cigars we made. My father would say, “This is the best blending wrapper in the world. It’s like a loose woman; she’s sweet and she’ll get along with anyone.” He loved it. It was the most expensive wrapper and back then there weren’t that many wrappers available. But Cameroon built our business. Before it we were making Cazadores Deluxe, Selección Privada No.1, and so on. Just like everyone else after the embargo began, we were making a lot of different cigars.
Then, I think it was in 1975, my father came out with the 8-5-8 with a Cameroon wrapper in honor of my grandfather and it was different than any blend we had ever done. That really started it for us; it was like “pan caliente” (loosely translates to “it sold like hot cakes”). We were a little sleepy company that nobody knew about outside of Cubans living in Miami, Tampa, and New Jersey. And it was the 8-5-8 that really took off. And that evolved into the Hemingway Series, and then the Don Carlos.
So your father made the 8-5-8 in honor of his father.
Did you blend the Don carlos in honor of your father as well?
Yes. The Don Carlos blend I made in honor of my father and I made it originally for Europe because it was a brand that we started in Nicaragua and then it was taken off the market. In 1986 I started working with Rick Meerapfel on securing special wrappers for the blend. And the blend evolved from the Hemingway blend, which evolved from the 8-5-8; that’s how I was taught. But it was heavier and fuller than those other cigars and today people might think that it’s medium compared to everything else but back then it was a pretty hearty blend. Some people just think it’s the best cigar that we make.
We’ve heard that comment from a number of consumers as well as industry insiders. How do you feel about that? Do you have a favorite blend?
I don’t think there’s such a thing as the best cigar we make. I think Don Carlos is among the best cigars we make, if that’s the taste you want. The one thing I can say is that they are extremely consistent. I believe they are as consistent as humanly possible. We try very hard. We do everything possible because that has my father’s name. But those blends are like my children; I can’t pick favorites.
You mentioned Rick Meerapfel earlier. I think today’s newer generation of cigar smokers lacks awareness of the contributions that the Meerapfels—namely Rick—have made to the cigar business. You and Rick were extremely close, but since his passing, do you still purchase your cameroon from the Meerapfels?
Every leaf of Cameroon that we use is from the Meerapfels. It’s really the best that we can get. It’s the most difficult tobacco in the world to secure and it cost Richard his life.
It was his birthday and he was at my house. He came to see me and then he was going back to Miami to see his wife and have dinner with Jorge and Beba Padron. While he was at my house he got a call that his whole company, I’m talking millions and millions of dollars, was taken over by the government. Everything was locked down; all the shipments, everything. I remember we had shipments coming over and after he got off the phone he tells me, “Don’t worry brother, I’m going to pull through for you, it’s not going to be the end of the world.” He went to Miami that day and I got the call from Jorge, he said, “Carlito, I have bad news. I was going to pick up Rick and I got a call that he had a heart attack and he’s in the hospital. They say he’s not going to make it.” He was like my brother and my closest friend.