Torpedo

Arturo Fuente Don Carlos

 
Arturo-Fuente-Don-Carlos.jpg

Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Cameroon
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)

Q&A

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.

 

Arturo Fuente Rosado Sungrown Magnum R

 

Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuador
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
Price: $7.25  - $8:00

Available in 5 sizes:
Vitola 44 (Petit Corona) - 4.78 X 44 
Vitola 52 (Robusto) - 5 X 52
Vitola 54 (Toro)- 6.5X54
Vitola 56 (Doble) 
- 5.58 X56
Vitola 58 (Torpedo) - 5 1/4 X58 [pictured]

Q&A

Carlos Fuente, Jr.
President of Arturo Fuente Cigar Company

the release of the Arturo Fuente Rosado Sungrown Magnum R in late 2009 went completely against the grain. the cigar market was in the midst of a surge in power and you launched acreamier, more balanced and nuanced cigar. What kind of smoker were you targeting with this brand?

Honestly, I don’t think that way. I just try to make a great cigar. Magnum R was something that I thought there was a need for in the market at that time. I just thought that, with the great tobaccos that we had, and with the experience that I’d had up to that point, Magnum R was a cigar that was important to introduce. It was different than anything else I had done. It was an accumulation of all of the teachings.

When you said you “thought there was a need” for Magnum R in the market at that time, what did you mean by that?

The market was going toward very, very young tobacco. Very strong. Like you should get a buzz after the first three puffs. The market went that way, but my teaching was always that a cigar needs to be balanced. It’s a cigar that doesn’t bite you, and it’s just enjoyable. So when I saw the market going to strong, strong, strong, I thought, “that’s not good for the business.” It’s not good for the retailer and it’s not good for the manufacturer.

I also think about farming; the plant gives you only so many leaves. Whether it’s 12, 14, or 16, depending on how you harvest and what you do, there are only so many of the leaves that really give you that strength. And those leaves have to be aged for many years for them to reach their optimal taste and sweetness, otherwise it’s “crudo” (raw).

There’s a reason why the old school cigars are blended a certain way. It’s part of our philosophy and our teaching, which was taught to me by my father and my grandfather, which was taught to them by the previous generation. That’s why I wanted to do Magnum R .

You also said that the Magnum R was unlike anything else you had done. How so?

The idea of that cigar was to have something balanced and flavorful, but different. With a little spice and everything that I find in another brand we make but not as “in your face.” You get all the flavors you’re looking for but when you finish that cigar, you want to smoke another one. It leaves you with that, “I w ant more.” I compare it to women. You know how when you’re young and you’re in love and you… you know what I mean? If, afterwards, you say “I don’t want to see you for a week,” that’s not good. But if you say, “let’s have a glass of wine and go for some more”… I think, in a cigar, that’s ideal.

I think we get it .
Now, on the surface, the biggest difference with Magnum R is that the wrapper is incredibly thin.
What is the reason for that?

It is very thin and delicate. It’s very fragile. It’s an Ecuador Habano that is grown for us by the Oliva family (Oliva Tobacco Co.).

The Oliva family, John and Angel Oliva… their family has been our backbone for generations. They grow that tobacco for us, but in order to get the proper balance for the Magnum R, we have to re-select the tobacco and try to find the leaves that are not as hearty, a little thinner. Not the heavier leaves like we use f or the Sun Grown or brands like that.

Now, keep in mind these are all judgment calls by humans as they go through all of the tobacco by hand, but that’s what we try to achieve. And I find that, for that blend, that works a little better.