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Rafael Nodal Named Head of Product Capability for Tabacalera USA (Update)

It’s not a title you hear at every cigar company, but Tabacalera USA has named Rafael Nodal its new head of product capability.

Nodal, who is best known as one of the people behind Boutique Blends and its portfolio of cigars that include Aging Room, La Bohème, SWAG, and Oliveros, joined Tabacalera USA in May when it was announced that Altadis U.S.A. would be handling the company’s distribution and sales efforts. At the time, Javier Estades, the head of Tabacalera USA, said that Nodal would be joining the company in a role that will support Altadis U.S.A.’s premium cigar brands.

This week, that role grew a bit with an announcement made via Cigar Aficionado indicating Nodal’s role would be expanding to oversee all of Tabacalera USA’s premium cigar operations which include Altadis U.S.A., online and catalog retailerJR Cigar, and the Casa de Montecristo brand of retail stores.

While a spokesperson from Altadis U.S.A. deferred to comment on the story in light of an upcoming press release, an individual familiar with the situation confirmed to halfwheel that Nodal will report directly to Estades after previously reporting to Rob Norris, who was appointed general manager of Altadis U.S.A. in Feb. 2017. As noted above, Nodal’s role has expanded from focusing primarily on a handful of Altadis U.S.A.’s projects and his own line of cigars to being involved with all of Tabacalera USA’s premium cigar offerings, particularly at the blending stage.

Nodal has worked with Altadis U.S.A.’s portfolio before, collaborating on the ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Aging Room release that came out in 2015. In late August, the Trinidad Santiago was announced, Nodal’s first project to be released with him in the employ of Altadis U.S.A.

Update (Oct. 6, 2017) — Tabacalera USA. issued a press release today confirming Nodal’s new role at the company, which includes the following statement from Javier Estades:

I am pleased to share with you that Rafael will expand his support to our overall premium cigar business including JR Cigar and Casa de Montecristo, as Head of Product Capability, and will report directly to me.

Rafael will work with our manufacturing partners to review the Tabacalera USA portfolio and identify opportunities for cigar innovation within the current regulatory landscape, taking into account the market needs for each of our premium cigar businesses. He will also coordinate with the companies factories to ensure consistency in manufacturing processes and cigar blends.

Rafael has a great deal of experience in the cigar industry, having led the Miami-based Boutique Blends Cigars since 1996.  I am confident his support will strengthen our Tabacalera USA business operations and enhance our portfolio.

Patrick Lagreid: I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the Spring Training public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies, PA announcer for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, and PA announcer for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA. I'm also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice talent and writer, among other things. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.