EASTON, PA - Mention the name José Blanco to just about anyone in the premium cigar business and odds are they've either worked with José in some professional capacity or know him personally. Moreover, the cigars José has been responsible for creating, such as the La Aurora 1495 and Cien Años series, Cuenca y Blanco cigars, and most recently, Señorial and Freyja cigars have all received the highest critical acclaim. Not bad for a fellow who, at age 16, began his career by working with his uncle, Arnaldo Blanco, founder of Tabacalera Palma in Santiago, the Dominican Republic; the same factory that today produces Señorial and Freyja cigars for José's Las Cumbres Tabaco Company.

During this recent Cigar Advisor podcast, José offers listeners a look into his past, present, and future. Not unlike the many Cuban cigar emigres in the cigar business whose families suffered at the hands of Fidel Castro, José's family experienced similar hardships under the tyrannical rule of Rafael "El Jefe" Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. His father, who grew tobacco in Tamboril, opposed the regime and had to leave the country for fear of his life. As José tells it during the thirty-minute-plus interview, other family members were not so lucky.

Since retiring from La Aurora in 2011, José had the good fortune to work with other cigar visionaries like Dr. Alejandro Cuenca of Joya De Nicaragua Cigars with whom he created the highly-rated Cuenca y Blanco selection.

"That was a great experience for me," José said. "I've known Alejandro for a long time and had a wonderful time working with him and people like Jonathan Drew and Steve Saka at Drew Estate who distributed the brand."

In spite of numerous offers to work with other cigar manufacturers, in 2014 José decided to start his own company and founded Las Cumbres Tabaco with his wife, Emma Viktorsson. A former Swedish Match executive, Emma is also the creator of Freyja cigars.

During the podcast, José also talks about the recent regulations imposed upon the cigar industry by the FDA. Calling the new rules "insane," José says, "If you're old enough to fight for your country, you should be able to smoke cigars. It's totally hypocritical."

Also discussed are José's blending seminars which are held at retail cigar stores around the country. When asked about the inspiration for this hands-on experience that allows the participants to learn about the different varieties of cigar wrapper, José says, "The idea came from my days at La Aurora when we used to do tours of the factory," said José. "People always had so many questions. So, besides talking about the basics like fermentation, aging, and humidification, I felt that if I could make it interactive, they would get much more out of it; some have even taken the seminar multiple times."

Looking towards the future, José will continue doing his seminars while he and Emma continue to promote and nurture their Señorial and Freyja cigar lines, respectively. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, click here.

About Cigar Advisor

Cigar Advisor, the nation's premiere online cigar magazine, proudly serves cigar enthusiasts with a uniquely down-to-earth perspective on the enjoyment of premium cigars. Well-known and highly regarded for providing acclaimed educational cigar content and behind-the-scenes industry articles from some of the business's top names, the Cigar Advisor editors deliver an array of content that speaks directly to those who enjoy the cigar lifestyle.

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