ANABELLE de GALE
Legendary Cuban cigar man Ramon Cifuentes, who owned the Partagas
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
``He left Cuba when they took the factory away from him,'' said
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,
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
maintaining the quality of the product.
Made entirely by hand, Partagas cigars acquired great cachet during
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
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,
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
been living in Madrid.
He is survived by his wife, Celia; daughter, Celia; and several
nieces and nephews.
Services were held in Madrid.
Copyright 2000 Miami Herald