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Aging Room ~ Dominican Republic Cigars
Aging Room claims that “Blending is in our DNA”. It is a bold statement for a young brand in its first decade in the tobacco industry. The reviews they receive, however, uphold their assertion and have prompted them to become the most acclaimed small batch cigar brand.
The brand came into existence through collaboration between Rafael Nodal, president of Boutique Blends, and José “Jochy” Blanco, Chief Executive Officer of Tabacalera La Palma in the Dominican Republic. The two have a very beneficial working relationship that has taken them to the forefront of the cigar world.
Rafael Nodal was born in 1964 in Camaguey, Cuba. Nodal came to the United States in 1980. At first, he followed his passion for music but eventually, he ended up working in the health care industry. Rafael met Hank Bischoff and Dr. Alina Cordoves Nodal, now Rafael’s wife, during his stint as executive director of a national psychiatric company.
Hank introduced Rafael to cigars at Nick Perdomo’s shop in Little Havana. Alina’s father was a distributor for La Aurora cigars before Miami Cigar & Company took over. These factors led Hank and Rafael to begin distributing mostly Miami-based cigars on a website in 1998
Rafael and Hank became consultants for Habana Cuba Cigar Co., the parent company to Olivero’s Cigars. In 2002, they were able to purchase Habana Cuba Cigar Co., at that time the line-up consisted of mostly flavored cigars. Ownership was split between Rafael, Alina, and Hank.
The company was looking to focus on small batch cigars because they felt it was an unexplored profitable market. They developed the blend for Swag with Jochy and it became the company’s most popular cigar at the time.
In 2010, Aging Room was created to be a boutique brand within Habana Cuba Cigar Co. focusing on small batches. Aging Room scored a spot on Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 Cigars of 2011. The brand grew an immense following due to this exposure.
A year after the recognition, Habana Cuba Cigar Co. was renamed Boutique Blends to highlight their star market focus. Their philosophy changed and they no longer produce cigars for everyone and instead aim to please the educated cigar aficionados.
Aging Room continues to be highly rated and praised. They average 90+ on cigar tastings. In 2013, Cigar Aficionado named Aging Room Small Batch M356 the second best Cigar of the year.
Their key to success lays in the fact they use rare tobacco harvested in the Dominican Republic. The blends are crafted in La Palma, one of the few factories in the Pro Cigar Association of Dominican Cigar Manufacturers. Jochy, who became a partner in Boutique Blends, keeps watch over the production of the limited handcrafted cigars.
In 2017, Altadis USA became the distributor for Aging Room and some other Boutique Blends brands. Rafael gained a position in Altadis where he is tasked with overseeing development of other brands within Altadis. The agreement benefits Aging Room because they will reach a wider market and also Altadis as it expands its portfolio with a boutique brand.
The carefully blended selection has something for every cigar connoisseur. Rafael believes creating a blend is much like creating music on his violin. A great deal of consideration is necessary to achieve a pleasurable harmony with just the right notes. Rafael applies it to both his cigars and music.
Enjoying an Aging Room cigar is an exclusive luxurious experience. When you smoke one, take immense pride in the privilege of enjoying the fruits-of-labor of one immigrant’s American Dream.