Nicholas Melillo, the executive vice-president of international operations for Drew Estate Tobacco Company, has left the company.

Melillo’s responsibilities included the purchasing and monitoring of the Nicaraguan-based company’s massive tobacco operation, as well as blending.

During his tenure, he took part in the blending of some of the company’s most popular cigars including Liga Privada No. 9, T52, Undercrown, Kahlua, Java and others. Blends like Dirty Rat have been described as cigars that started as Melillo’s personal cigars that he would smoke around the factory before they were modified for commercial release.

Last year, he took part in not only the blending of the company’s Nica Rustica release, but also assisted with the branding.

“I am extremely grateful to Jonathan Drew for giving me the opportunity and believing in me back in 2003,” said Melillo in a press release. “I am also enormously proud of the Nicaraguan team. They have been like family to me and we have come a long way together.”

Drew Estate’s Nicaraguan operations now include two large factories, one of which opened earlier this year, with capacity to produce over 100,000 cigars and the employment of 1,500 people.

“It’s definitely an emotional moment for me personally. We’ve had some great times together, especially on our tobacco purchasing trips to Brazil, Mexico and Connecticut,” Jonathan Drew told halfwheel.

“It brings me great happiness to reflect upon all of Nick’s accomplishments throughout the years. Drew Estate prides itself on always working in team, Nick was a great part of it. There is a deep level of friendship, respect and love for him and we will miss him.”

Earlier this year, Melillo established Melillo International, a consulting firm for purchasing tobacco and blending. He formally left Drew Estate on Jan. 1, 2014 and has been consulting for the company since then.

Melillo is a native of Connecticut. He began working at Calabash Shoppe in Hamden, Conn. in 1996 and joined Drew Estate in 2003. In addition to his work at Drew Estate, Melillo owns Hotel Puro Estelí in Nicaragua. He remains a partner in Drew Estate.

This is the second major executive change at Drew Estate in the last year. In July, Steve Saka, former ceo, left Drew Estate.

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.