Smokeshop

SS August 2016

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40 SMOKESHOP August 2016 Nodal's marketplace success attract- ed other makers. Villiger, for a time, ventured into premium cigars made at Jochy's factory. Fabian Barrantes, who had worked for Boutique Blends as vice president of SWAG cigars and director of marketing for Aging Room, knew the factory well and when he joined Villiger North America he developed and pro- duced a number of new cigar lines there. When Jochy's cousin, José Blanco, launched Las Cumbres and its cigar Señorial in 2014, he knew he wanted Jochy to make it. The following year, Jochy was provided with recognition when Procigar—the prestigious Domin- ican cigar makers group—inducted him as one of their own. Early this year, another legend in the business, José Seijas—the former head of Altadis U.S.A.'s Tabacalera de Garcia and now owner of La Matilde brand— moved his production from La Romana to Tabacalera Palma. Seijas is known for his strict quality standards and felt Jochy was the one to provide the high stan- dards and the capacity he wanted. While Jochy likes making cigars for others, for many years he also wanted to have his own brand. "I think it is time for people to realize we have a long tradition of growing tobacco and producing amaz- ing cigars. It is my passion to make cigars and grow tobacco, but we need to show what we love to people who are outside the farms and the factory." And now Jochy is doing just that. At the end of 2014, Fabian Barrantes left Villiger and came to see Jochy. Jochy talked about his ideas for a brand of his own and the possibility of acquiring an- other U.S. company with Fabian. The two went to Miami a week later to look over the company's operations and to analyze whether the move made sense. It did, and a few days later Jochy pur- chased IndianHead Cigars. He reasoned with the FDA and its 2007 predicate date, this could be a good fit. "Indian- Head gives us brands that have been in the market since the 1990s; that was one of the reasons I bought it," says Jochy. Also, the owner of IndianHead, Bill Bock, was a friend of Jochy's for the past 30 years. Jochy adds, "When Bill want- ed to sell the company, he wanted to sell it to someone he trusted to continue the tradition he had begun." Armed now with pre-2007 brands, Jochy went about creating his own line, La Galera—which translates from Span- ish as "the gallery" or "rolling room" in a cigar factory where, as Jochy puts it "the magic happens." In February 2015, Jochy with Fabian as his director of marketing and sales began work on the packaging to comple- ment the blends for La Galera. The bands were made personal for Jochy and his family according to Fabian. "The picture of the lector is from a painting in Jochy's office. The painting of the field hangs in the packaging room, and the coins are Dominican. There is a ballerina for his daughter, who is a ballerina; a basketball because his middle son José junior is a basketball freak; and a heart for Daniel, > CIGARMAKER SPOTLIGHT > Blanco is using new seeds and keeping a tight watch on where those seeds are grown, seg- regating harvested leaf by its growing area for precise blending when it's time to roll cigars. > The new IndiandHead War Hunter line is presented as a complete series in its own display, all retailing under $6.50 per stick.

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