Allow me to introduce you to Jochy Blanco. He’s one of the best tobacco growers in the world. José “Jochy” Arnaldo Blanco III is a fourth-generation tobacco grower, a second-generation cigar maker, and the CEO of Tabacalera Palma in the Dominican Republic. @tabacalerapalma is their Instagram handle. This industry runs in his blood. His great grandfather, Manuel Blanco Lozada, started growing tobacco when he emigrated from Spain to the Dominican Republic in the mid-1800s. In 1925, Jochy’s father, José Arnaldo Blanco II, founded Tabacalera Palma, which made him one of the country’s earliest cigar makers. You want to talk about a legacy? The kind of thing all the other guys are trying to claim? This is the real deal. Jochy made the Good Morning/Uncle Paulie’s Deli for us. Jochy does have a brand called La Galera, but our relationship with this farm is going to bring out the best damn cigars they ever made. Jochy is allowing us to rummage through the cigars he makes and pick the winners. Take this French Collection for example. Jochy visits France from time to time to explore vineyards and 300-year-old churches. On a trip about 5 years ago he visited an art gallery, and noticed many Old Master painters focused on religious figures as their subject matter. He was intrigued and started to research these figures, mostly cardinals. He became inspired to make cigars named after a few of them, that would pair well with wines. Art inspiring art. His ode to France and its rich history of wine, art and culture. No one could understand the branding, so they decided against selling them as a line, but these cigars were so damn good Jochy didn’t mind taking up some space and aging them for his own stash. Luckily, Privada came along and started doing some digging. Jochy offered, we tried the sticks and immediately decided to take most of them. He accepted, and this is the cigar you have in your hands. You may not get this exact cigar again, but we will have a few other items from the collection in the shop.
Tasting Notes: On the body I get apple cider vinegar and dried peach. The foot is rich tobacco and dried peach. Cold draw is very Cubanesque, like dried apricots and fruits with beautiful woods. Upon lighting I get florals, like a dryer sheet (common in Cuban cigars), sharp cedar and faint dried peaches on the retrohale. White pepper and cedar pick up on the retro and the smoke is very velvety. Theres light notes of vanilla and woods, faint baker’s spices and maple syrup along with florals and woods. Holy cow is this thing balanced to perfection! The second third transitions to more fruit forward notes, brighter citrus and sparkling water. Crisp effervescence. Leather enters the equation, it’s sweet and ramping up in the body. Dried mango? Maple syrup? Whoa! I even start to get an over-ripened banana bread. The final third is still fruity and banana-like with breads and nutmeg and cinnamon and woods. WOWOWOWOW! Pairing Notes: Cognac. French red wine. French food. French anything!