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- More from News & Features
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.
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.
Comments 13 comment(s)
JONATHAN DREW — NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES, — February 12, 2014 2:38am ET
James Nierodzik — February 12, 2014 9:43am ET
LES MANN — East Providence, Rhode Island, UNITED STATES, — February 12, 2014 9:56am ET
Jerome Lauzon — Lachine, Quebec, Canada, — February 12, 2014 10:45am ET
Ben Lee — February 12, 2014 11:10am ET
G — February 12, 2014 1:03pm ET
Barbara A. Daniels — February 12, 2014 1:27pm ET
Harold Lensen — Arnhem, Gelderland, Netherlands, — February 12, 2014 5:23pm ET
Lancero Arsonist — February 12, 2014 9:29pm ET
Frederick Amodeo — Bellport, New York, USA, — February 13, 2014 8:01am ET
Jamie Allen — vicksburg, Mississippi, US, — February 19, 2014 3:20pm ET
Dennis Saum — Overland Park, Kansas, USA, — February 25, 2014 4:59pm ET
Stephen P LaPre Sr — Phoenix, Az, USA, — February 25, 2014 5:57pm ET
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