If you have picked up a cigar more than once in the last twelve months…or maybe even in your life, there a serious chance you have heard of Arturo Fuente or even its third generation owner, Carlos “Carlito” Fuente Jr. Carlito is perhaps the most recognized person within the industry today. Due to his never-ending passion to the craft of making premium cigars, his effort to leave no stone unturned when connecting with his fanbase, steamrolling the continued building of the monster company his grandfather started back in 1912, or his unrivaled passion of defending the industry that has given him the life he could of never even dreamt of, this is a man who I swear never sleeps and probably won’t until he is in the ground. I have had the very privilege of witnessing a small portion of his daily life back in 2022 and I can tell you he along with his sister Cynthia, Ciro Cascella, and the rest of the Fuente family and staff are a group of people unlike any other.
One of the things I know means so much to Carlito and company is their legacy as a company and part of preserving that was by way of the release of Arturo Fuente: Since 1912. This book written by author Aaron Sigmond and published by luxury publisher Assouline debuted early last year in a small quality that immediately caught the attention of the Arturo Fuente fanbase and other admirers alike. This beautiful work of art will provide many people with an understanding of who this family is, where they have been and where they are heading for years to come. One thing I know is important to them is their vision for a a future even bigger and beyond just premium cigars, but that is a story you’ll have to ask Carlito about.
Last year was the increased return of Carlos “Carlito” Fuente Jr. to the public eye. More specifically, he began to venture out more frequently and go on a tour of the United States and other parts of the world visiting cigar shops and attending events with fellow industry veteran Jose Blanco.
The last few years, Carlito has been selective about his travels and events mostly due to his extreme busy schedule and the COVID-19 pandemic before that. This has helped him reconnect with many of his fans and customers while also promoting and bringing continued attention to the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation, an academic charity the Fuente family operates in Bonao, Dominican Republic with the Newman family of J.C. Neman Cigar Co. In addition, due to the changing market space outside the US with Habanos S.A. products, it has helped Carlito begin to really set the Fuente name into stone in more places in other parts of the world taking market share away from those who used to be primarily Habanos customers.
In addition and perhaps one of the bigger points on this list, Carlito along with over a dozen other fellow manufacturers and brand owners played an integral part in the victory in Washington regarding the case against the FDA and its ruling. Carlito has been a major supporter of the Premium Cigar Association and the Cigar Rights of America and has been very outspoken about not only his support, why it is important, but also calling upon others who have stood by and watched events unfold in the industry and have done little to nothing to help the group as a whole defend our rights as cigar enthusiasts and business owners. He gave a speech at the Rocky Patel booth during the 2023 PCA Trade Show in which he spoke on all of this and really set the tone as to where the industry needed to be – unified.
For these reasons and many more I won’t write about in an effort to keep this somewhat short and sweet, Smokin Tabacco has named Carlito Fuente our 2023 Person of the Year for his efforts to the industry, his company, and to his loyal customer/fanbase all around the world.