In 2018, Boutique Blends underwent a major restructuring and expansion of its portfolio. One of those cigars that was released was the Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua. In 2019, that cigar would go on to capture #1 Cigar of the Year for Cigar Aficionado. One might have figured with co-owner Rafael Nodal being the road warrior, he would be on the road continuing to introduce people to the Quattro Nicaragua and that would culminate at the 2020 PCA Trade Show. However a couple of things happened – first Altadis USA, who distributes Boutique Blends opted not to attend the 2020 PCA Trade Show; and 2) COVID-19 shut down the majority of cigar events. Still, Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua has been doing quite well with retailers, so it made sense for Nodal to introduce a line extension. At the same time, given the momentum of Boutique Blends, it also seemed like the right time to bring back one of the company’s older brands, Oliveros.
Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua is a collaboration between Rafael Nodal and AJ Fernandez. Last year, it was the Maestro size that captured Cigar Aficionado’s #1 Cigar of the Year in 2019. It’s a blend that features 100% Nicaraguan tobaccos. It was originally launched in four sizes, but this year a fifth size is being introduced called the Impromptu. It’s a 6 1/2 x 52 figurado tapered on both ends and like the rest of the Quattro Nicaragua line it is box-pressed. The Impromptu will come in ten-count boxes as opposed to the 20-count boxes found on the rest of the line. Production is limited to 6,000 boxes and pricing is set to $12.75 per cigar.
Oliveros’ return to Boutique Blends portfolio is appropriate as the company is bringing back the Oliveros Gran Retorno (Gran Retorno means Grand Return). It’s actually the second comeback for the Oliveros brand. Before there was Boutique Blends, there was Oliveros. And it was Oliveros that launched the successful Aging Room and Swag brands. When the Aging Room and Swag line took off, Oliveros faded to the background. In 2016, Nodal reintroduced Oliveros back to the market and released the “Gran Retorno” line (along with the Oliveros All-Stars limited edition). Fast forward one year later, and Boutique Blends entered into a strategic alliance with Altadis USA with Nodal also joining Altadis USA as Director of Product Capability. At that time the decision was made to focus on the Aging Room brand under Boutique Blends. 2020 now sees Gran Retorno make a second return for the line and the Oliveros brand.
Previously Gran Retorno had been produced at Felix Mesa’s El Galan factory. For the relaunched Gran Retorno, Nodal teamed up with Nestor Plasencia Sr. to select the right tobaccos and then begin the aging process. The aging of the Oliveros Gran Retorno involved a unique three-stage aging process that first involved aging the tobaccos in traditional bales for 24 months. The cigars then remained “reposado” in the factory Cedar Room for six months before being packed and aged for more than 33 months in their individual cedar boxes in the company’s humidor in Tampa, Fla. This three-stage process involved over 5 years of aging. Like the 2016 release, Gran Retorno is being released in three wrapper options: Honduran Connecticut, Nicaraguan Habano, and Nicaraguan Maduro. Each blend will feature all-Nicaraguan tobaccos for the binder and filler. Each of the three blends will be available in three sizes – each named reflecting homage for Nodal’s passion for music: Swing (50 x 6), Banjo (52 x 4 1/2), and Fiddle (54 x 6). These names had been used on the previous release of Gran Retorno. Each size is being presented in 20-count boxes. Releases are being staggered with the Connecticut already hitting the stores followed by the Habano and Maduro offerings later this year.
- Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua Impromptu Coming in November
- Boutique Blends Brings Back Oliveros Gran Retorno
Photo Credits: Boutique Blends Cigars, except where noted