On August 29, 2011, Joya de Nicaragua, S.A. (JDN) appointed Jose Blanco, formerly a director of La Aurora Cigars, as Senior Vice President. Blanco is bringing his 29 years of marketing, public relations, and tobacco blending experience to this legendary Nicaraguan cigar company. He will be responsible for overall brand and blend development and will be reporting directly to its owner, Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, and the company’s Board of Directors. Working closely with Drew Estate, their US Distributor, and their worldwide partners, Blanco will also be responsible for interacting with the public. He will be relocating from the Dominican Republic to Nicaragua in order to fulfill his duties.
Blanco, age 61, is a cigar expert held in high esteem throughout the industry who is known for being
simultaneously outspoken and gregarious. Cigars and tobacco have always been part of his life. As a youth he was tasked with sorting tobacco from his father’s farm and began regularly smoking cigars at the age of 16. He was hired by Empresa León Jimenes CxA in 1982 and spent 18 years in its core beer and cigarette divisions. In 1999, due to his passion for cigars, he was promoted into their historic cigar company, La Aurora S.A. Utilizing tobaccos from many nations, he was instrumental in the development of new products such as the 100 Años, Aurora 107 and 1495 Series. He also served as the public representative for the company and is heralded for his tobacco blending and tasting seminars until his retirement from the company in June 2011. Guillermo León, the owner of La Aurora, credited Blanco for being a big part of the company’s success in a statement to Cigar Aficionado.
In comment to why he decided to accept the position at JDN, Blanco states, “Joining Joya De Nicaragua allows me to do what I love and feel passionate for: working with tobacco. It is a choice that I feel very happy about and makes me look into the future with great enthusiasm. Joya De Nicaragua is in my opinion an honorable company with strong tradition and history, which I value highly. Furthermore, it will be a great honor to work with my dear friend Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca. In this company I visualize growth, creativity and overall great potential.”
Of Blanco says Dr. Martinez Cuenca, “Welcoming Jose Blanco as Senior VP of Joya de Nicaragua is a profound honor and pleasure for me. Jose will bring new blood and fresh ideas to our legendary company that will allow us to expand our lines of production. His experience in blending and marketing will complement our own efforts and will undoubtedly result in a great contribution to the development and growth of Joya de Nicaragua in both the US and worldwide markets.”
“I have always respected Jose,” states Steve Saka, President of Drew Estate, “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.”
Jonathan Drew, Owner and Co-Founder of Drew Estate added this comment via an iPhone video, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure he knows all about cigars, but the thing I like best about Blanco is his accent. Sometimes it is Dominican, sometimes it is Bronx, but it is never one of those Dominican-Bronx accents.”