José Blanco Returns to Cigars

G. Clay Whittaker
Posted: February 12, 2014

José Blanco is back in business.

The former vice president of Joya de Nicaragua and sales director of La Aurora has created his own company: Las Cumbres Tabaco, which already has a first blend in the works.

Las Cumbres Tabaco—literally "the summits of tobacco"—is based in the Dominican Republic. The first line will be a Dominican-made boutique cigar called Señorial by José Blanco. He's making it with Tabacalera La Palma, which is run by his cousin Jochi Blanco, the maker of the Aging Room Quattro F55 Concerto, Cigar Aficionado's No. 2 Cigar of 2013.

"I think it's time for me to do my own thing," Blanco told Cigar Aficionado. "We have been through many different periods of tobacco and taste-profiles, and even though all of us in the industry keep evolving and learning, we thrive to reach the summits of tobacco, so this is absolutely a name reflecting upon the industry as a whole."

Blanco's new job brings him back to the Dominican Republic, where he first began working in the cigar business. He joined Grupo León Jimenes—La Aurora's former parent company—in 1981. He began as a salesman, working on the company's best-known brands, Presidente beer and Marlboro cigarettes. A longtime member of Aurora's test-smoking panel, in 1999 he moved full-time to become sales director and was part of the blending process, working on such Aurora creations as Aurora 1495 and Aurora 107.

Senorial box top.
The box logo for Blanco's new brand, Señorial.

He left La Aurora in June 2011 and joined Joya de Nicaragua that August. His main project was working with Cuenca y Blanco, which later was shortened to CyB. Blanco spent two years at Joya de Nicaragua, leaving there in August. At the time he did not have a plan but promised a return to the industry.

Though an official press release said the blend for his new cigar was incomplete, Blanco told Cigar Aficionado that Señorial will have mostly Dominican guts, including a lot of Piloto Cubano, and an Ecuadoran wrapper. "It's going to be the strongest cigar I've ever made," he said.

The cigars will initially be five sizes: a 5 1/2 inch by 46 ring gauge Corona Gorda, a 5 1/4 by 52 Robusto, a 6 by 54 Toro, a 6 1/4 by 52 Figurado and a 6 by 60.

Señorial doesn't have an official release date—in fact nothing is firmly set yet, from MSRPs to the final blend—but Blanco expects the cigars out in May or June. Blanco is still in the process of deciding how they'll be distributed.

Blanco said he also hopes to create cigars with Guillermo Léon at the La Aurora factory in the future, though there are no details on that project at this time.

Welcome back my friend.
James Nierodzik February 12, 2014 9:43am ET
Good to see you back Jose!
LES MANN East Providence, Rhode Island, UNITED STATES, February 12, 2014 9:56am ET
Best of luck my good friend! Light em up!
Jerome Lauzon Lachine, Quebec, Canada, February 12, 2014 10:45am ET
Good luck to you Mr Blanco. I have a great deal of respect for your opinions on cigars as well as your past creations with La Aurora and JdN. Looking forward to smoking your next blend. Salud!
Ben Lee February 12, 2014 11:10am ET
Great news!
G February 12, 2014 1:03pm ET
Good luck Jose. Looking forward to smoking a few with you brother.
Barbara A. Daniels February 12, 2014 1:27pm ET
Great to see you back and better than ever! Congratulations!
Harold Lensen Arnhem, Gelderland, Netherlands, February 12, 2014 5:23pm ET
Congratulations with your very own new brand Jose! Hopefully we'll be able to sell them in Holland soon!
Lancero Arsonist February 12, 2014 9:29pm ET
Great to see you back. Cannot wait! One of the best blenders and people in the biz!
Frederick Amodeo Bellport, New York, USA, February 13, 2014 8:01am ET
Very Happy that Mr.Blanco is back in the business once again. Had the pleasure to meet him and learn from him at a Cigarfest in Pennsylvania and I found him extremely informative and lots of fun! Good luck sir and are waiting with extreme anticipation with trying your new line.
Jamie Allen vicksburg, Mississippi, US, February 19, 2014 3:20pm ET
Welcome back..
Dennis Saum Overland Park, Kansas, USA, February 25, 2014 4:59pm ET
Thumbs up!
Stephen P LaPre Sr Phoenix, Az, USA, February 25, 2014 5:57pm ET
Great news Mi Hermano! I pray you will be massively successful!
Looking forward to smoking and reviewing your latest creation!
Tom Ufer Palm Harbor, FL, USA, March 10, 2014 10:02pm ET
Great News, Best of luck Jose!

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