Last year, Joya de Nicaragua introduced a new three viola brand built around the blend of its popular Antaño 1970 line. The Antaño Gran Reserva retains the same corojo oscuro wrapper and fillers from the original blend with the fillers aged for up to five years. According to Juan Ignacio Martinez, executive president of Joya de Nicaragua, the purpose of the additional tobacco is to give the smoker a more refined and mature version of the Antaño 1970.
While the new line launched in three different sizes, it turns out that Joya de Nicaragua was not finished with the brand, as earlier this year the company announced that it would be adding a fourth vitola named the Gran Antaño Presidente, a 6 3/4 x 50 box-pressed parejo.
“When I requested the Gran Reserva blend in the Presidente size, it immediately became my private smoke,” said Dr. Martínez Cuenca, Joya de Nicaragua’s chairman and ceo, in a press release. “This is by far my personal vitola and the one that I request the factory for my daily smokes. I decided to share it only for special occasions.”
The new size is as an exclusive to the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA), a group of approximately 80 retailers and 40 manufacturers that holds an annual meeting to discuss issues facing the industry. There is also a trade show that works on a group buying format in order to secure exclusive deals for these generally high-volume merchants. However, in recent years various manufacturers have produced exclusive cigars for the members of the association, including the subject of today’s review.
There are now four different sizes in the Antaño Gran Reserva line.
- Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva Belicoso (6 x 54) — $11.15 (Boxes of 20, $223)
- Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva Robusto Grande (5 1/2 x 52) — $9.90 (Boxes of 20, $198)
- Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva Gran Cónsul (4 3/4 x 60) — $10.40 (Boxes of 20, $208)
- Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente TAA Exclusive (6 3/4 x 50) — $12.50 (Boxes of 20, $250)
- Cigar Reviewed: Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Fabrica Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaragua (Corojo Oscuro)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 3/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Toro Extra
- MSRP: $12.50 (Boxes of 20, $250)
- Release Date: June 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: n/a
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Visually, the Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente is extremely attractive, covered in a mocha brown wrapper that features both a bit of tooth as well as a touch of oil. The box-press is a nice touch and there are multiple veins running up and down the length of the cigar, although none of them are overly distracting. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of cedar, leather, barnyard, manure, raisins and dark chocolate while the cold draw brings flavors of creamy cedar, black pepper, raisins, dark fruit, sourdough bread, cocoa nibs and leather.
Even knowing that it was supposed to be more restrained than the Antaño 1970, I was still surprised by the lack of pepper at the start of the Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente. Instead, I was inundated with a dominant creamy cedar note interspersed with flavors of oatmeal, earth, coffee beans, cinnamon, leather and sourdough bread, as well as a touch of red pepper on the palate. In addition, there is a touch of black pepper on the retrohale, as well as some nice candy raisin sweetness in the finish. After a v-cut, the draw is excellent featuring just the right amount of resistance, while the burn is razor sharp so far. Overall smoke production is significantly above average off of the foot and although the strength is noticeable, it is not aggressive, failing to hit the medium mark by the end of the first third.
There is not much overt change in the second third of the Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente as the creamy cedar flavor retains its dominant spot in the profile, although the oatmeal note is making a good run. Other notes of dark cocoa, leather, earth, licorice and saltine crackers flit in and out, while there is still a tiny amount of red pepper on the palate. The profile is slightly more creamy overall, which combines nicely with the raisin sweetness that is still present on the finish. Construction-wise, the draw remains excellent and while the burn is not razor sharp anymore, it is not even close to bad enough to correct as of yet. By the end of the second third, the Joya de Nicaragua seems to be picking up strength, easily hitting the medium mark.
While there is a bit less sweetness and a bit more pepper in the final third of the Joya de Nicaragua TAA Exclusive, the profile is very close to a carbon copy of the second third, with the same creamy cedar note dominant followed by lesser flavors of oatmeal, leather, earth, dark chocolate, espresso beans, cinnamon and bread. The sweetness has died down a bit, but both the burn and the draw continue to impress and the smoke production has actually increased a bit. Strength-wise, the Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente easily hits a point slightly above the medium mark and that is where it is when I put the nub down with about an inch left.
- Antaño translates to yesteryear.
- Interestingly, both the TAA and Joya de Nicaragua are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year.
- The regular Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 line currently includes 10 violas, so the Gran Reserva line has quite a bit of catching up to do in that regard.
- This year’s TAA event took place from April 29-May 3 at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.
- At the time of this review, only three 2018 TAA exclusives have shipped to retailers: the CAO Estelí, the Eiroa First 20 Years Diadema and the Tatuaje TAA 50th.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Joya de Nicaragua, which advertises on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time averaged two hours and 48 minutes for all three samples.
While I have always been a big fan of Joya de Nicaragua cigars in general—the Cabinetta blend is one of the best morning cigars you can buy—I have always found the Antaño blend to have too much strength and too little balance. Thankfully, while still on the high side of medium, the aged filler in the Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente takes care of the strength issue nicely, resulting in a much smoother, more balanced and overall more enjoyable profile compared to its Antaño 1970 brothers. While still not the most complex of blends, the Presidente has some very distinct flavors of creamy cedar and oatmeal along with an ever-present raisin sweetness on the retrohale and the overall construction was extremely good. An enjoyable cigar—yes, even in the morning, albeit after a big breakfast—that I would not hesitate to try for yourself if you come across them.