Arsenio Ramos, the longtime blender for AGANORSA and its associated Casa Fernández and Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) entities, has died.
Like many, Ramos’ story began in Cuba. He worked for Cubatabaco for over four decades, eventually becoming in charge of processing tobaccos for the state-run company in Pinar del Río, Cuba’s most famous tobacco-growing region.
His tenure outside of Cuba began around the turn of the millennium. It coincided with the purchase of Tabacalera Tropical by Eduardo Fernández. Ramos would then serve as the head of a manufacturing team, many like him from Cuba, that would expand Tabacalera Tropical into the juggernaut that is AGANORSA.
“We’ll miss him a lot and he was the foundation of everything we’ve done,” said Fernánez in a statement to halfwheel.
“He was a great human being above all else and everyone who ever met him was struck by his knowledge and willingness to share about tobacco. He was a charming individual, always with a twinkle in his eye, full of stories in the old Cuban way. His love of the leaf was unquestionable and he dedicated his life to tobacco from a very young age.”
Ramos’ work is all over the modern cigar market.
While he is best known to consumers for his blending of cigars, particularly the Casa Fernández blends that have had his name on them, he was an expert when it came to everything prior to rolling: varietals, growing and fermentation. Because of AGANORSA’s massive Nicaraguan tobacco operations, it means that tobacco Ramos and Jacinto Iglesia—another Cuban tobacco expert—grew and processed is literally all over the world.
At factories most recently the TABSA factory, Ramos served as the master blender for AGANORSA and its dozens of clients. From venerated brands like Illusione to newer brands like HVC to dozens of retailers who developed smaller private labels, Ramos was the one who clients would lean on the most for advice and final approval.
“Many of us will dig deep into our memories of him. A story, a joke, a poem he wrote and shared with us, the way he enjoyed tobacco and smoked it,” said Max Fernández Pujals. “Everyone he came across will remember his truly affectionate nature. He never failed to show people his youthful side and lasting wisdom at the same time. When a person like that comes along you always remember them and learn from the grace they always had.”
A funeral will be held tomorrow in Pinar del Río.