Recorded: 10-8-15

Lane: Welcome to the Cigar Café. Today we have a very special guest with us. Jose Blanco, owner of Las Cumbres Tobacco Co., is joining the show today from the Dominican Republic. This is our first international episode! Jose, thanks for joining us today!

Smoking on the show today:

Lane and Harris: Senorial Corona Gorda (Jose Blanco’s first blend from Las Cumbres Tobacco Co.)

Jose Blanco: Experimental test blend Lonsdale (non traditional country tobacco, variety)

Jose Blanco’s wife Emma created Freya a new unique blend she worked on solo.

Senorial by Jose Blanco

Jose: Its important to not rush the blending process. I always take my time and try to create something unique. Senorial (my first release from the new company) took over 7 months to blend. We went through 30 test blends. The cigars were aged for 120 days after they were rolled.

Jose Blanco Senorial new cigar release from Las Cumbres Tobacco Co.

Jose doing what he loves.

Part of the process was to test the blend to see how it aged 21 days, 30 days, 60 days.

Jose: I think it is also very important to be very active on social media for stores and cigar companies. I am very active on all of the major sites and try to respond to every question I’m asked by fans.

Jose: The Pro Cigar Festival is the best cigar event of the year. It is a great opportunity to meet the cigar manufacturers and consumers all in one place.

Jose: Harris is young and up and coming in the industry. He listens and has a passion to learn everything possible in the industry. This is important to be successful.

I am currently hosting cigar blending seminars across the country. Never judge a cigar by the color of its wrapper.

You should smoke everything. That’s what I do. Evolve your palate.

Sean Cigar Background

Sean: I started with Java’s in January and have worked my way up to smoking a little bit of everything now.

Jose thoughts on what cigar retailers need to be focusing on

  • Cigar shops need to have a knowledgeable staff
  • Motivation
  • Passion
  • Sales skills
  • Fair prices
  • Customer service

Jose: I’m the 4th generation in my family to be in the tobacco industry. My Cousin is Ho Chi Blanco, one of the biggest tobacco growers in the Dominican Republic. You need passion to make it in this business.

I started smoking cigars at the age of fourteen. I spent a lot of time with cigar industry veterans growing up.

Jose Blanco Career

2011 retired from La Aurora

Went to work for Joya de Nicaragua created Cuenca y Blanco brand (CyB)

Left to start Las Cumbres Tobacco (current company)

Jose: My wife Emma was the director of sales for Swedish Match in Russia and Europe. She recently developed her own brand Freya as a solo project. She is an expert on Cuban Tobacco.

Cigar Blending Questions

Sean: Jose when you blend do you start with a goal flavor profile or blend something to fit in the industry?

Jose: I always want to create something new and different. Something not in the market. Senorial was my first blend with Las Cumbres my new company. It’s like cooking, putting ingredients together.

Senorial maduro wrapper is aged 5 years. Ho chi Blanco is my first cousin. We are very close. My cigars are made in his factory and with this tobacco. It is a lot of work to get the cigar blends right. Not easy at all.

Cigars with Age – How do they age?

Sean: Do cigars just mellow with age?

Jose: Depends on the wrapper. Some will age well and some will not.

Sean: Jose, What else are you smoking these days?

Jose: I don’t like to answer this specifically, I love many different cigars. Check out my social media feeds to see what I’m smoking every day. I always post it.

Lancero Project

Jose: I’ve been working on a special lancero project. The first 200 boxes went very fast. I let them rest for an entire year. The 7×38 cigar size is very hard to roll.

CRA Cigar Rights of America

Harris: Jose, Tell us a little about Cigar Rights of America (CRA). I know you are very involved with this organization.

Jose: We all must join together to fight the coming FDA regulation or we will all be gone and there will be no new cigar blends.

Why join CRA?

Jose: We need to build the grass roots movement. Its only $35 per year to join and membership includes two free cigars. The executive director Glynn Loop does an incredible job running the CRA.

Sean: going into a brick and mortar cigar shop is a wonderful experience.

Senorial Corona Gorda (smoking on the show today)

Lane: Description of the cigar – spice, sweet, chili pepper, full on the retrohale, terms full and strong are very different.

How are the different?

Lane: Strong has more strength than flavor. Full = complex and works together

Cigar Retrohale

Jose: If you retrohale a cigar you can pickup 400+ unique notes of flavor in a cigar. If you don’t do this you are not really tasting the cigar.

There are some silly reviews out there. I ran across one about a blueberry muffin.

Jose: I’ve never tasted blueberry muffin in a cigar!

Lane: Cigar blending is like being a chef. My recipes have evolved over the years. The whole is greater than the parts. It’s a process.

Cigar Blending

Jose: You can’t make everyone happy. Don’t try. Focus on something and do it really well. Variety is great

FDA update from Jose Blanco

Jose: no big updates, we need people to sign the petitions and be contacting their representatives. We can’t be reactive, must be proactive. Its about small business. Most shops are owner operator stores.

Other Notes:

  • Jose loves to dance, movies and travel
  • Thanks to Harris for his leadership in the cigar industry (Jose)
  • The bluberry muffin review was on the Oktoberfest cigars link
  • Jose is coming to Birmingham soon
  • Pro cigar festival link
  • Visit a cigar factory!
  • Up to 240 hands tough a cigar before it makes it to the consumer (Lane hopes these are clean hands)

Thanks again to Jose Blanco for joining us on the show today. It was great!

Links to other info on Jose Blanco from

Cigar Manufacturer Spotlight – Jose Blanco of Las Cumbres Tabaco

Tobacconists Association of America TAA Holds 2013 Annual Meeting

For more details click the link to listen to the show recording.

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