Blanco Joins Joya de Nicaragua

José Blanco, the high-profile cigar man who left La Aurora S.A. in June, has taken a new job in the cigar industry. Blanco is assuming the new position of senior vice president of Joya de Nicaragua S.A., the maker of various lines of Joya de Nicaragua cigars, including the ultra-high-octane Joya de Nicaragua Antaño.

Blanco, 61, will be responsible for developing brands and blends for the company and for interacting with the public, reporting directly to the brand's owner, Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, and the company's board of directors. He is in the process of moving from Santiago, Dominican Republic, to Managua, Nicaragua.

In an exclusive interview with Cigar Aficionado, Blanco said one of his goals was "to bring Joya to the next level, because I believe the company has the tradition, has the tobacco, has the name, and the people at Joya are very professional people with a great passion and a love for great tobacco." Blanco also said he will continue to do blending seminars, something he did for Aurora. "In the last four years," he said, "I've done probably 450 seminars."

Blanco worked for 29 years at Aurora or its parent company. He was hired by Empresa León Jimenes CxA in 1982 and spent 18 years in its beer and cigarette divisions. In 1999, he became part of La Aurora S.A., the cigar division. Just as Aurora is the oldest maker of cigars in the Domincian Republic, Joya de Nicaragua is Nicaragua's oldest cigarmaker.

"I'm very excited," said Dr. Martinez Cuenca in a phone interview with Cigar Aficionado.

"I've known José for more than six years. I always was impressed with not only his knowledge of tobacco, but the way he relates to people." Dr. Martinez Cuenca called Blanco the "missing link" for his company. "He knows what our weaknesses are and knows how we can deal with them."

Joya de Nicaragua will continue to be distributed in the United States by Drew Estate. "I have always respected José," said Drew Estate president Steve Saka in a statement. "He is one of the few guys in our business that will tell you what he really thinks. I like that in an individual, plus he is as crazy about cigars and tobacco as I am. He is a total cigar geek so I am really looking forward to having the opportunity to work with him to grow the love for Joya de Nicaragua. He is going to be a great fit."

Joya de Nicaragua was created 43 years ago, and is Nicaragua's oldest cigar factory.

To read more on Alejandro Martinez Cuenca and Joya de Nicaragua, click here.

To read a Q&A with José Blanco, click here.

"Welcome Back Jose, I look forward to seeing you in the Future, also I love Joya De Nicaragua, what a GREAT brand to be associated with, Bueno Swarte Mi Amigo!!" —September 1, 2011 03:37 AM