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!
lmmurillo (verified owner) –
Fantastic cigar!! Wow, amazing smoking smoke!
Geoffrey Brown (verified owner) –
I went back and reread the review/tasting notes for this cigar and realized that my two favorite cigars from Privada so far were made by the same guy, Jochy Blanco. Uncle Paulie’s and this one. Very different, but both really flavorful. I rarely smoke a cigar down to the last inch. Like never. But this one I did.
Marcus Jones (verified owner) –
Finally lit this up. A very good smoke. Jochy Blanco is on the money with this one. Have the other two to get to now. Learning to pick up flavors a nice hint of pepper. Wonderful.
Joshua Cruz (verified owner) –
Smoking this cigar as I’m doing this review and I have to say this probably this best cigar to have chosen to start the New Year with 2021. On New Year’s Eve day this cigar is giving me so much enjoyment. I thank Jochy Blanco and Privada for bringing this cigar to me and us in the club.
Todd Clark (verified owner) –
My review as posted to the Cigar Geeks forum…
Humidor time: 615 days
Humidimeter reading: Head – 65, foot – 69
Appearance and construction: A few veins, an oily sheen, a moderately firm pack with no soft spots, and a large gold foot band covering the lower 2/3rds of the stick… Gave it a wide-ring punch and PLD was open. (13/15)
Flavor: PLA gave a whiff of rich tobacco. The light gave a medium/full profile with a slightly spicy retro and notes of wood, spice, and a hint of coffee. The spice in the nose faded quickly with the other flavors remaining mostly consistent through the remainder with the body receding a bit towards medium territory through the first third and the coffee ramping just a bit in the last third. My description doesn’t do this stick justice, though, as there was a richness to this profile that doesn’t translate easily into words. These sticks are advertised as being six years aged and this one came across as being made with very high quality tobacco, so age and quality are about the best I can do to describe the experience. Pretty much right in my wheelhouse for a medium to medium/full smoke. Strength was about medium. (24/25)
Smoking characteristics: The light produced a moderately easy draw, smoke volume on the low side of optimal, and an even burn to start. Draw and smoke output both improved to optimal about 1″ in. The burn stayed even through the first third with the tight ash falling at 1 1/4″ leaving a cone. Things were then very uneventful down to the nub. Draw and smoke output remained optimal from the first third on. (24/25
Overall impression: This one came as a monthly selection from Privada Cigar Club some time back and may be an exclusive for them, although they don’t advertise it as such. I’m not seeing these anywhere else, though, and the notes that came with this one say that Jochy Blanco had these in his private stash and allowed PCC to take most of them after they’d been aging for six years, so I suspect that they’re not available anywhere else. Either way, this one was a banger of a smoke and now I think I better get some more while they’re still available. There are three other blends in this “collection”, all of which are available through PCC. Can’t wait to try those as well! (33/35)
Burn time: 1:39
Dave Chandler (verified owner) –
Remarkably good – and its obvious that there’s plenty of the right kind of age on this stick. Complex and well-integrated – I’ve never seen any of the French Collection expressions anywhere aside from Privada but these certainly won’t disappoint and offer excellent value – as I’ve paid four to five times as much for sticks of lesser quality.