The Fantastic Four: The Men Behind Davidoff’s Cigars, Part 4

    Davidoff - Henke Kelner, Eladio Diaz, Manuel Peralta, Hamlet Espinal

    Part 4 of Tobacco Business Magazine’s special feature “The Fantastic Four,” which looks at the cigar making super team behind Davidoff Cigars. In this part, we take a look at Eladio Diaz, Oettinger Davidoff’s master blender. You can read the previous installments on Hendrik Kelner (click here), Hamlet Espinal (click here), and Manuel Peralta (click here).

    Eladio Diaz: The Alchemist
    The man most responsible for taking the fruit of Peralta’s labor and turning it into brands that cigar lovers worldwide savor is Tabadom’s master blender, Diaz. Like the other men with whom he works, Diaz has an almost lifelong obsession with tobacco. In fact, he says that he first became aware of the magical leaf when he was just a toddler and visited a cigar factory with his mother. It was such an important day to him that all these years later he still remembers the date—Feb. 15, 1960.

    Eladio Diaz, Master Blender at Davidoff Cigars

    “I am a very privileged man,” Diaz explains. “To do this job well you must have a tremendous love for tobacco and love for cigars. You need to live it. You need to feel it. I get paid to do something that I enjoy. What could be better?”

    As the master blender, Diaz takes the raw material—tobacco, which can come from anywhere in the world—and creates cigars that have values that far surpass the sum of their individual components. It’s sort of like the medieval alchemy in which practitioners attempted to create precious metals out of base metals. While they failed, Diaz has succeeded and has constantly and consistently created wonderful cigars throughout his years in the industry.

    “I ensure that the quality of the tobacco and cigars meets our full expectations,” Diaz says. “I also work on the creation of new blends and teach the younger people at Tabadom the art of blending so that the company will continue to be a leader in cigarmaking for years to come.”

    Diaz blended his first cigar in 1979 when he worked in the cigar division that Kelner had started at Tabacalera. When Kelner established Tabadom in 1984, Diaz joined him. Diaz was intimately involved in creating Davidoff’s Dominican blends in 1991, including the 1000 Series and Gran Cru, as well as Ambassadrice a little later, and he’s never let up. Winston Churchill; Davidoff’s Millennium Blend, Yamasa and Escurio; and Zino Platinum are just a few of the blends that Diaz has worked on over the years.

    “The art of blending is something unique and innate in a person,” Diaz comments. “Above all, you need to be passionate, have an affinity for tobacco, and live it and feel it in order to be able to fall in love with it and create new blends and taste experiences. A lot of times, I dream of a new cigar blend. On some occasions, I just create them because of my own inspiration. Usually, however, our colleagues in the Basel headquarters request specific taste stimulations and experiences, which will meet consumers demands.”

    Diaz’s 60th birthday marked the creation of the Davidoff Oro Blanco. Diaz dreamed of the cigar blend one night and put it into production. So far, of the thousands of blends that he has created over the years, Diaz is most proud of the Oro Blanco and hopes that it will be a part of his legacy when he steps away from the cigar world.

    “I hope that I will create another cigar that makes me as proud as the Oro Blanco, but most of all, I want to be remembered for the quality and consistency that all Davidoff cigars have had over the years,” he says. “That’s been the most satisfying element of my job.”

    Davidoff - Henke Kelner, Eladio Diaz, Manuel Peralta, Hamlet EspinalThe Mission Continues
    While Tabadom’s superteam of Kelner, Espinal, Peralta and Diaz lacks any cosmically gifted superpowers, they do possess uncanny passions for their jobs and an almost unmatched depth of knowledge gained through years of hard work and experience that permeates all activities and employees at Tabadom. They are Davidoff’s Fantastic Four in the Dominican Republic, and, while the comic book heroes dominate the world of fantasy, these men accomplish their feats in the real world. Their superpowers are evident in the entire cigar world. They are carrying forward the pioneering spirit of Zino Davidoff every day, working together to craft the most innovative blends and taste experiences possible, making cigar aficionados happy and filling their time beautifully.

    This story first appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.

    – By Stephen A. Ross, senior editor of Tobacco Business Magazine.