Rafael Nodal is going to be very busy. Tabacalera USA has just named him head of product capability, a wide-ranging position that will require Nodal to support Tabacalera’s overall premium cigar business, including Altadis USA’s premium brands as well as its catalog and retail subsidiaries JR Cigar and Casa de Montecristo. The job will also have Nodal in the company’s factories to ensure consistency for both blending and manufacturing.
He reports directly to Javier Estades, head of premium cigar operations and president of Tabacalaera USA.
“Rafael will work with the manufacturing partners to enhance Tabacalera USA’s portfolio and identify opportunities for cigar innovation within the current regulatory landscape.” Estades said.
In May, Nodal signed on with Altadis U.S.A.—Tabacalera USA’s premium cigar division—for what Nodal called a “strategic alliance agreement.” Altadis took on distribution of Nodal’s Boutique Blends Cigars company. In addition to the distribution deal, Nodal agreed to work for Altadis, focusing on the development of the company’s premium cigar lines, which include major brands for the U.S. market like the non-Cuban versions of H. Upmann, Romeo y Julieta and Montecristo.
Nodal owns Boutique Blends Cigars along with his wife, Alina, and partners, Hank Bischoff and José "Jochy" Blanco, tobacco grower and owner of the Tabacalera Palma factory in the Dominican Republic. The company gained attention in the world of premium cigars when it debuted its line of Aging Room smokes (the Aging Room Quattro F55 line was named Cigar Aficionado's No. 2 cigar of 2013 in the Concerto size). Before the distribution deal, Boutique Blends collaborated with Altadis U.S.A. to create Romeo By Romeo y Julieta Aging Room Small Batch F25.
“Rafael has a great deal of experience in the cigar industry, having led the Miami-based Boutique Blends Cigars,” added Estades. “I am confident his support will strengthen our business operations.”
Altadis U.S.A. and Tabacalera USA are subsidiaries of Imperial Brands PLC, the huge, England-based tobacco concern that also owns 50 percent of Cuba's Habanos S.A.