You know you’re really into cigars when you know about all the celebrities of the cigar world. Move over Britney Spears - today I'm writing about the Fuente family, the makers of Arturo Fuente cigars. Carlos Fuente and Carlos Fuente Jr., who now oversee the operations of the Arturo Fuente Cigar Company, are illustrious figures in the cigar world. Why? Not because they wear too-short skirts when climbing out of their limousines, but because their cigars are some of the most famous in the world. They’re also some of the most elusive - these great cigars are pretty darn difficult to come by.
The History of Arturo Fuente Cigars
The famous Fuente cigar was born in the United States in 1912, when Arturo Fuente established the A. Fuente Cigar Company. Arturo Fuente is a company with an interesting history... and a somewhat ironic tendency to be destroyed by fire. The factory burned down in 1924 in Tampa, Florida. And then burned down again in the 1970’s, after moving to Nicaragua. Then once more two months after moving to Honduras.
I guess tobacco is pretty flammable, eh?
After his cigar factory burned down for the first time in 1924, Arturo Fuente was in dire straits. To avoid being overrun with creditors (guess he never heard of insurance?) Arturo had to take a job with another cigar company. But he didn’t give up, and in the 1940’s re-opened the A. Fuente Cigar Company - selling cigars out of the back of his house. But the company did well quickly, and the family soon moved into a larger factory in Tampa.
Since then, the company has moved all over the place, from Florida to Nicaragua to Honduras, back to Florida, and finally ending up in the Dominican Republic. Today, the Dominican-based company has more than 2500 employees and four factories - a big improvement over the literal mom-‘n’-pop shop he was forced to run from the back of his home (at that time, his only “employees” were his wife and a few family members. And I bet his wife didn’t let him call her an “employee.”).
The entire Fuente family still has a large stake in the company today. The Fuentes’ old factory in Tampa is now the Tampa Sweethearts Cigar Company, and is run completely by members of the Fuente family, selling cigars and cigarettes through mail order and over the Internet.
Until the U.S. embargo on Cuba in the 1960’s, Arturo Fuente cigars were made with Cuban tobacco. They’re now made with Dominican tobacco, and are considered some of the finest Dominican cigars in the world; medium- to full-bodied works of art aged in vaults of Spanish Cedar.
The Opus X
How can your talk about Arturo Fuente cigars without talking about the Opus X? This insanely good cigar is probably the most famous in the U.S., and is considered the brand’s flagship cigar. Part of the reason for this is the rarity of the Opus X - this cigar is nearly impossible to find. But if you are lucky enough to find one… well, you should be careful. The Opus X, with its incredible aroma and full-bodied flavor, can turn into a very expensive addiction.
All-in-all, the Fuente family has done well for itself despite all the company’s ups and downs... something which is easy to see whenever you sit down to smoke an Opus X. We’ll all just hope they’ve learned about fire insurance (and maybe have bought a smoke detector or two) by now.
Photo credit: Flickr