Dominican cigar maker ‘Jochy’ Blanco (real name José Arnoldo Blanco III) is no stranger to making award-winning cigars. After all, he’s been around tobacco for as long as he can recall, and is one of the most well-respected figures in the Dominican tobacco industry.
Although he’s played a prominent role in the creation of critically-acclaimed releases for the likes of La Flor Dominicana, Aging Room, Kristoff, Matilde, Señorial and others, his pride and joy these days appears to be La Galera – a line he first launched in 2008, and now oversees all aspects of alongside his son José Manuel Blanco.
Recently, La Galera cigars have returned to the Canadian marketplace via House Of Horvath, and are poised to make big impression on Canadian retailers and cigar lovers alike.
La Galera cigars are made at Tabacalera Palma, a factory that was initially established in the year 1936 by Jochy’s father, José Arnaldo Blanco II, making it one of the oldest factories in the country. Tabacalera Palma is presently situated in Tamboril, a location which sits just on the outskirts of Santiago in the Dominican Republic.
Up until the 1980s, it only made cigars for the local market using strictly Dominican Olor tobacco.
In the 1980s, Jochy took over as CEO. During this time, the company began to procure tobacco and cigars for export for the very first time.
Since then, Tabacalera Palma has grown exponentially, has relocated, and has developed numerous private labels for some of the leading cigar companies in the world.
It also exhibits a positive very positive impact on the community by directly employing its citizens, supporting local growers, as well as supporting a handful of causes, including The Orphanage of Tamboril, The Firemen Patronage and numerous local sports organizations.
[FACT: More than 70% of Tabacalera Palma’s onsite employees are female]
In addition to further developing Tabacalera Palma, Jochy Blanco has created and improved upon many tobacco growing, harvesting, curing and processing techniques – ideal factors that increase tobacco quality and the quality of a finished cigar.
At birth, Jochy was the 8th child of a total of 9 children in his family, and represents the family’s forth generation of tobacco growers (his Grandfather was a Spaniard named José Manuel Blanco Lozada who emigrated to the Dominican Republic in the mid-19th century to deal in tropical fruits and tobacco).
Today, Jochy is among the Dominican’s Republic’s biggest growers of tobacco.
In addition to his farms in Santiago, Jochy grows tobacco in La Canela, Gurabo, Jacagua, and Mao. Jochy even shares a state of the art farm with Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana called Estancia Flor de Palma.
He also purchases additional tobacco from growers who were once subcontracted by his father Arnoldo.
His primary tobacco crops are Criollo ’98 and Piloto Cubano, which unsurprisingly, are prominent components to be found within his La Galera cigars.
Jochy knows intimately about the different qualities and characteristics that become present within tobaccos that are grown across the different microclimates of his farms that are spread throughout the Cibao Valley region.
“In addition to further developing Tabacalera Palma, Jochy Blanco has created and improved upon many tobacco growing, harvesting, curing and processing techniques – ideal factors that increase tobacco quality and the quality of a finished cigar.”
CIGAR PROFILE: La Galera Maduro Chaveta
the La Galera Maduro Chaveta Robusto is an expertly constructed, medium to full-bodied cigar. Featuring a flawless, rich Mexican San Andrés wrapper with delicious Piloto Cubano and Crillo 98 tobacco, this cigar will dazzle the palate with notes of cocoa, earth, leather and cedar.
In Spanish, “La Galera” translates as “The Gallery” or “The Rolling Room”.
Never one to simply follow the pack, for La Galera Jochy chose to assign unconventional, yet very unique names to the each vitola (shape) within the line. Spanish language names were used that are typically associated with common tobacco-related objects, tools – and even job titles.
The short gordos for example, are instead called the Pilones – a pilones being a pile of fermented tobacco. The robustos are called the Chaveta; named after the half circular-shaped knife used to trim wrapper leaf before it is applied to a cigar.
And let’s not forget the toro-sized releases which he calls El Lector. Originating in Cuba, ‘el Lector’ was the individual who often sat at the front of the room facing the workers in the cigar factory.
The job of the Lector was to read aloud from newspapers, other literature, and even poetry to simultaneously inspire and keep the workers’ minds sharp as they toiled to create cigars entirely by handcraft.
Pretty cool, eh?
All in all, La Galera’s core line features four blends: Connecticut, Habano, Maduro and the 1936 Box Pressed.
The Connecticut is wrapped with a rich Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf, with a binder & filler combination composed of Dominican grown seed from Tabacalera Palma’s farms in the Cibao Valley.
The Habano is said to be Jochy’s personal favorite to smoke.
It is blended around an outstandingly flavorful Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Dominican grown Corojo binder and filler made up of Piloto Cubano, Criollo 98, and Pelo de Oro. It is also said that the Habano is the preferred cigar for the Tabacalera Palma factory workers to smoke while working.
The Maduro is cloaked in a rich Mexican San Andrés wrapper, and is rounded out with delicious Piloto Cubano and Crillo 98 tobacco from Tabacalera Palma’s Jacagua and Gurabo farms.
The 1936 Box Pressed
The 1936 Box Pressed is wrapped in a Habano wrapper and is a Tabacalera Palma masterpiece encompassed with a collection of the finest and most brilliantly rich tobaccos from the farm in La Canela.
Together, the 4 releases of the La Galera core line comprise a full spectrum of strength, flavor and intensity for a smoker to choose from – all at a solid price point to boot.