Now is a good time as ever for Jose Blanco to come out with his own brand. His great grand-father, his grand-father and his father all grew tobacco back in Tamboril, Santiago, Dominican Republic – all from the Blanco-side. It was Jose´s Uncle Arnaldo Blanco who founded Tabacalera Palma in 1936, and it is now his son (meaning Jose´s first cousin) Jochi Blanco who is running the factory. Jose Blanco learned to work tobaccos with his family ever since his first cigar when he was 16 years old and onwards.
Nonetheless, he spent 30 years working for La Empreza Leon Jimenes, former owners of La Aurora. He went from Marlboro cigarettes (without smoking them, he always only smoke cigars) to Presidente Beer, all through which he was always part of the tasting panel of La Aurora´s cigars. It was in 1999 when he was finally moved to work officially for La Aurora , for which he climbed up the ranks to Sales Director, as well as blending, all throughout those years. Blanco retired from La Aurora in 2011 in order to start his own brand, but he made a two-year-contract for his Senior Vice Presidency of Joya de Nicaragua, which was a decision based on his great interest in Nicaraguan tobaccos as blended into his chosen variety of origins. In 2013, he moved back to his Dominican roots to start working on his own.
In February 2014, his own company, Las Cumbres Tabaco was officially founded by himself and his wife Emma Viktorsson, to carry Jose´s own cigar, Señorial. Everything about Señorial cigars and Las Cumbres Tabaco have been created within the family, from the blend (blended by himself) to the production at Tabacalera Palm, to the name and designs by Emma. See more about this story in detail in Emma Viktorsson´s blog called Cigar Fantasia.
Jose Blanco´s Blending Seminars
Jose Blanco started an educational seminar back in 2004 that he named “Blending Seminar.” However that is just a name, it is not teaching how to blend. “How to blend” would not be possible to learn in such a manner anyway. Blending takes years, focus and dedication on another level as many master blenders, like Jose did, learned how to blend through life, family and tradition within the tobacco world.
Jose´s Blending Seminar is a highly interactive seminar during which each attendee smokes and gives opinions almost as much Jose himself talks.
He used to base these sessions on pure grades used for fillers. Nowadays he switched to making it based on wrappers. He hands out a bunch (filler and binder) with a wrapper changing at each inch. He may use wrappers from anywhere from Connecticut to Ecuador, Nicaragua to Dominican Republic, Cameroon to Mexico to Honduras… There are good wrappers and tobaccos from many origins and Jose helps the smokers feel the distinction. He changes the wrappers and orders from time to time to keep the participants captivated.
Jose makes sure to perform his Blending Seminars as much as possible on all his trips. Look out for the next one coming up near you!
Again, more information can be found in Emma´s blog where she will tackle these subjects in depth.