The Miami Herald
January 11, 2000
Cigar legend Ramon Cifuentes
He was responsible for internationally prized Partagas brand


 Legendary Cuban cigar man Ramon Cifuentes, who owned the Partagas Cigar
 factory in Cuba until exporting his brand to the Dominican Republic when Fidel
 Castro came to power, died Jan. 3 from natural causes at his home in Madrid. He
 was 92.

 ``He left Cuba when they took the factory away from him,'' said Oscar Boruchin,
 owner of Mike's Cigars in Miami Beach. ``Don Ramon was the best cigar man in
 the world. Partagas is the closest to a Cuban cigar in the United States.''

 An uncompromising perfectionist in the age-old art of cigar making, Cifuentes
 learned the trade from his father who bought the business in 1900 from Jaime
 Partagas, a Catalonian immigrant who started the company in 1845.

 The senior Cifuentes extended the range of cigar brands while focusing on
 maintaining the quality of the product.

 Made entirely by hand, Partagas cigars acquired great cachet during the 1920s
 and `30s. The rich, full-bodied brand was a favorite of cigar aficionado Evelyn
 Waugh, who favorably mentioned it in his novel, Brideshead Revisited.

 When his father died, Cifuentes took over the business.

 In 1961, Cifuentes fled Cuba and went to the United States. For two years in the
 early 1960s Cifuentes worked for almost nothing, separating leaves in a
 Connecticut tobacco house.

 He then moved to Santiago, Dominican Republic, and a decade later forged an
 alliance with General Cigar.

 In 1991, Cifuentes created Partagas Limited Reserve, which is aged more slowly
 than any other cigar.

 The Partagas' 150th Anniversary cigar, released four years later, became an
 instant classic and a rarity sought by collectors, Boruchin said.

 Up until his 80s, Cifuentes guided the making of Partagas cigars by the General
 Cigar company in the Dominican Republic. His cigars use tobacco from the
 Dominican Republic, Cameroon, Jamaica and Mexico.

 Cifuentes also had homes in Madrid and New York City, and most recently had
 been living in Madrid.

 He is survived by his wife, Celia; daughter, Celia; and several grandchildren,
 nieces and nephews.

 Services were held in Madrid.

                     Copyright 2000 Miami Herald