Five years ago, I wrote an article similar to this after my first meeting with AJ Fernandez. What began with an article unveiling him to the public for the first time ended with super stardom. AJ has a reputation for blending some of the industry's greatest cigars and his popularity all started with a simple article. I thought my random meeting with AJ and discovering a super star blender was a once-in-a-lifetime event; however, on a recent trip to Honduras I encountered another extremely talented tobacco man who's been flying under the radar for four decades! He's worked in every facet of the cigar industry, from tobacco buyer and processor to blender. So, who is this new mystery tobacco man you need to know about? They call him Ramón Bueso.
The cigar industry is a small community featuring only a tiny group of well-known cigar makers who have ever penetrated the U.S. market. However, there are many cigar makers and tobacco men throughout Central America whom fame and notoriety have escaped, many times because they don't speak English and found no way to access clients in the States. So, I'm always keeping my eye out for talented, overlooked blenders. Unfortunately, 99 times out of 100, I come up empty-handed as I'm rarely impressed with the individuals I find. But there is always that one percent chance that I'll meet someone who really grabs my attention; such was the case with AJ Fernandez and such is the case with Ramón Bueso. While visiting Nestor Plasencia Jr. in Honduras, I kept hearing about this new cigar around town called "Bueso;" it was the cigar Ramón Bueso personally blended and enjoyed. I ventured into the back of Nestor's factory and introduced myself to this mysterious Ramón Bueso character. Fortunately, he offered me a cigar before I had the chance to ask. Upon first inspection, I knew immediately why everyone was falling in love with Ramon's cigar; it sports a dark and oily Broadleaf maduro wrapper grown in Connecticut. This tobacco is a rare prize. Found only at a small handful of factories and known for its deep flavor, which is rare for such a heavy leaf that's fermented to such a dark color. Ramón and I enjoyed a coffee as I burned through his treasured blend. I found it exceptional with medium to full-bodied notes of earth, leather and a pleasant spiciness that continued to the finish. After enjoying the cigar and hearing Ramón's story, I knew I needed to get this cigar into the United States.
Currently in his 50s, Ramón was born in Honduras and was brought into the cigar industry in a series of unlikely events, affording him amazing opportunities. His first memory of tobacco took place on a small plot of land owned by his grandmother, which she leased to Angel Oliva in the 1960s. After the Cuban revolution and the subsequent nationalization, the most notable cigar makers from Vuelta Abajo fled Cuba to continue their passion for tobacco cultivation and cigar creation. Honduras was perhaps the most popular country these Cuban refugees called their new home. At the time, the tobacco pioneers in Honduras were Angel Oliva, Julio Eiroa and Frank Llaneza, all legends in their own right. Ramon's grandmother's farm was essentially ground zero for the growth of Honduran tobacco as we know it. At only 15 years of age, Ramón found his first job at the now-famed Villazon factory. As a bunchero and roller, Ramón took to cigar-making like a duck to water. His ability to quickly learn all aspects of cigar-making didn't go unnoticed. Eventually, Ramón became Frank Llaneza's right-hand-man in helping as a buyer and processor of tobacco. Ramon ended up working with Frank's partner Estelo Padrón; a name thoroughly known throughout the cigar industry. At their side, Ramón learned some of the oldest traditions in cigar making.
I, along with my Cigar.com expert staff, am a true believer in Ramón. While Ramón's name may not be familiar to you now, I'm betting his name will be as common as Pepín García, AJ Fernandez or Rocky Patel in a short period of time. His debut blend is the very same cigar I enjoyed last year, now called Genesis The Project by Ramon Bueso.