Alex Svenson (AS): Ramón, what are your earliest memories of tobacco?
Ramón Bueso (RB): I was barely seven when I started trying to earn a few extra cents for my pockets and I remember my grandmother working at the “Gina” farm, which was the property of mister Angelo Oliva, so I started bringing her lunch every day and she would give me 5 cents each time. On the weekends, I would spend a couple of hours helping her thread tobacco leaves together. When I turned 15, I went to the Honduras American Tabaco Factory to look for work as an apprentice buncher. I needed to study and had many siblings, but my father didn’t have the resources to pay for my school, so I had to help out in every way I could.
AS: Your story and history are both very interesting. You started at the bottom and worked your way to the top, being mentored by some of the industry’s biggest names along the way. For our readers who don’t know your story, how did it begin and how did you get to where you are today?
RB: People whom I learned from and shared tobacco knowledge with include Angel Oliva, Edgar Cullman Sr., Frank Llaneza, Daniel Nuñez, Estelo Padrón, Jose Martinez, Cesar Lopez, and Isaac Rodriguez. From this group of people, I acquired knowledge in different stages of my life, for all of which I am incredibly grateful. Each of these men are iconic in the cigar industry and each had a very specific skill or passion they enjoyed above all others. I was able to absorb their passion and develop my very own philosophy surrounding the growing of fine tobacco, its processing, cigar blending, rolling, and everything else that goes into a fine cigar.
AS: What is your favorite part of the cigar making process? Where is your passion most evident?
RB: I believe a good cigar starts with the best ingredients. Of all the things I do, inspecting and buying tobacco is a true treat. I love seeking out and acquiring truly unique bales. Each farmer utilizes different processing methods and each farm maintains different soil content. My goal is to get the best of the best. If you don’t have that, you don’t have good cigars, and good cigars are what I aim to deliver.
AS: How many cigars do you enjoy per day and do you have any sort of rituals when it comes to relaxing with a cigar?
RB: Believe it or not, I actually burn through 15 to 17 cigars each day, sometimes a little more depending on the ring gauge and size of the cigars. When you burn that many cigars each day, it’s hard to have a ritual since there is a cigar in my hand almost every waking hour. That being said, my favorite cigar is always the last one of the day, when things calm down and I can relax after a hard day’s work.
AS: Your debut release was nothing short of spectacular. How did you blend Genesis the Project and what were you trying to achieve?
RB: What inspired me to use the name Genesis? On a daily basis I read the greatest book in the history of mankind — The Bible. This helped motivate me to give my best effort and fully dedicate myself to this project, always thinking of the true meaning of Genesis in its entire splendor. Remember, if someone gives you the opportunity to demonstrate all of your knowledge, there is nothing better than that. Genesis also happens to have significance in its reference to the beginning of something great, which is what I was setting out to do with my inaugural blend for the US market. I know consumers right now love rich and full flavors balanced with just the right amount of strength, which is what I like too. The blend I went with was actually one I have always enjoyed, but never had an audience for it here in Honduras.
AS: What was your reaction to the huge response to the brand in its first year?
RB: I will be very honest. Many of the famous brands out on the market have a great part of my life in them and not a word of my name has ever been mentioned. I felt this was the appropriate moment to jump in and tell enthusiasts who I am. I give all of you my appreciation and thanks because for the first time in my life, I heard from many people who told me how they felt about every cigar I have ever made, and I received nothing but unexpected praise. This has made me truly understand what enthusiasts enjoy because I finally had the chance to live it with many of them. Thank you for accepting me in this part of your everyday life.
AS: This year you released your second line, Ramón Bueso Odyssey. What’s special about this new cigar?
RB: I learned that every enthusiast has different preferences in what they want to taste in a cigar. Many of these preferences were brought to light by the people I spoke with during my visit to various cigar events in the US. I understood them and I came to realize what it was that they were looking for in every cigar. So the name says it all: Odyssey. For me, it was an odyssey making it from Danli, Honduras to the United States (laughs), under a strong rain and heavy fog with little visibility. Who knows if I would have been able to make it if it weren’t for a police car that helped me find my way when I was lost? What’s really special is to show each enthusiast, through example, that we owe it to them to make them feel great satisfaction with each and every cigar I blend. That’s what’s so special about my cigars. I blend them for enthusiasts, not for distributors, and Odyssey encompasses that. It’s made with a Connecticut leaf, but a very rare one grown right here in my home country of Honduras. It may look mellow, but don’t be fooled. It is one of the most complex cigars I have ever blended.
AS: What is most important when it comes to blending a cigar?
RB: When you blend tobaccos, you must be sure the fermentation of each leaf is perfect. To make sure your entire palate is satisfied; you need to blend each cigar leaf by leaf, one by one, until you obtain the most delightful delicacy which I like to call the “climax of the palate.”
AS: Is there anything you want to say to all of your cigar fans in the United States?
RB: I would like to tell everyone, especially all of my followers, that I will always be willing to create the best cigars for your delight and I will always be thankful for accepting me in your everyday lives. I love you all, thanks!