In April 2020, Joya de Nicaragua announced that it wold be sending a new vitola of its Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial line to several markets in Asia, specifically China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Vietnam.
The vitola is a fairly familiar one for those who know the Joya de Nicaragua Antaño and Antaño Gran Reserva lines, as it shares the Gran Consul name. However, this time it gets a box press, and it measures 4 1/2 x 60, while the Antaño version measures 4 3/4 x 60.
While the cigar gets a box-press, the blend remains the same as the cigar that was introduced in 2015, meaning a Nicaraguan criollo wrapper from Jalapa over a Dominican volado binder and Nicaraguan fillers, including five-year-old ligero that is aged in spent rum barrels. The Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial—which finished at #15 on halfwheel’s Top 25 Cigars of 2015—was a follow-up to the Cuatro Cinco Edición Limitada, which was released in November 2013 as a celebration of the company’s 45th anniversary.
It is a limited edition release as well, with 1,000 boxes of 10 cigars produced, a total of 10,000 cigars coming from Fabrica de Tabacos de Joya de Nicaragua S.A. Those boxes and the cigars inside feature a slightly different design than the regular production line. Both add a design that represents the pixiu, a mythical Chinese creature that resembles a lion with wings.
“We wanted this masterpiece to revolve around Pixiu, a Chinese hybrid mythical creature believed to be a protector and wealth promoter, and is a figure ever-present in powerful and grandiose feats of victory in battle, representing the values of courage and resilience that are common between our Nicaraguan and Asian cultures,” said Juan Ignacio Martínez, executive president of Joya de Nicaragua. “This is not about cultural appropriation; on the contrary, is an expression of cultural interconnection and profound friendship.”
“At Cigraal, we are proud and honored to be the exclusive agent for this first limited edition from Joya de Nicaragua,” said Eric Piras, founder of Cigraal. “Asian aficionados are very fond of exclusive cigars; with the utmost quality and craft of the blend and the superb packaging, we are confident that this limited edition will generate enthusiasm in cigar connoisseurs and collectors.”
- Cigar Reviewed: Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial Edición Asia
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaragua (Jalapa Criollo)
- Binder: Dominican Republic (Volado)
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 4 3/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 60
- Vitola: Belicoso Gordo
- Est. MSRP: $37.15 (Box of 10, $371.50)
- Release Date: May 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The box-pressed Gran Consul vitola brings back some memories—more on that later—but the cigar is as distinctive as it is appealing. It’s a meaty brown hue with a bit of red that stands out amidst the otherwise rich brown color. While not immediately obvious, or even obvious with some more focused attention, there is just a bit of crystallization on the wrapper that glistens in the right light. There’s a firm, pillowy density to the cigar, more consistent both front to back and side to side than other such vitolas, but certainly familiar. The foot of the cigar offers an aroma that is softer than I would have imagined, delivering pizza dough and wheat bread, fragrant cedar and other light wood, and just a bit of pepper. The funneling effect of air through the narrow head can be felt on the cold draw; it’s clearly not plugged or otherwise resisting, but it is different from a parejo’s air flow. The flavor here is on the mild side though it’s accented by black pepper. There’s more very soft wheat bread, hints at cashews, and some very thin amber syrup delivering sweetness when it appears.
The Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial Edición Asia generally starts with the familiar earthiness of Nicaraguan tobacco, though it has more depth and dampness than might be considered average. It’s not a knock, as the flavor and texture of the smoke have me thinking a bit of chocolate cake, though the sweetness is still fairly restrained and one sample has a bit of waxy, sour wood right out of the gate. Pepper in the early going can be tame, it’s there but it is far from dominant and at times, it’s almost easy to overlook, depending on the profile of cigar you usually smoke. That said, the right retrohale will dash those previous thoughts, which in turn makes the profile fuller and more stimulating to the taste buds. Regardless of the start, the profile arrives at nearly the same place around the one inch mark, with a soft, textured smoke that has a bit of pepper and an aroma that reminds me of a fresh pot of black coffee. The technical performance is fantastic; smoke production may be a bit less than what one might expect from a 60 ring gauge, though it’s not lacking. The draw, combustion and burn line are all fantastic. Flavor is a soft medium-plus, while body and strength are both medium-plus.
The second third of the Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial Edición Asia keeps the profile and body on the softer side, though the blend is hardly a pushover, and beginning to wake up and show some more character. Pepper begins to build, albeit slowly, and the cigar begins to hint at what I think most people might think of as a typical Joya profile. Yet at the same time, it feels about as deep of a profile as I’ve experienced from Joya, while complexity is just a tick behind the milder Joya de Nicaragua Número Uno, which was halfwheel’s top cigar of 2018. In one sample, there is a bit of a straying into a more robust and rough profile, which while enjoyable isn’t the best effort this cigar has put forth thus far. Past the midway point, I keep wanting the cigar to do something, but it stays pretty content with its full body but medium flavor intensity, which while maybe not the most exciting or word-generating, is still very enjoyable. It’s a dense, chewy smoke that flirts with chocolate, bringing it in just long enough to enamor the palate and then veer towards black pepper for a few puffs. The technical performance is still fantastic, with the flavor creeping out of medium-plus, body is a more robust medium-plus, and strength is still just a tick over medium.
The final third begins by offering my palate a flavor of chocolatey, artisan coffee. Not a mocha or anything like that, and not what might come out of a silver canister at the convenience store, but rather something sought after for its uniqueness of imparting a chocolate note. It’s a flavor that seems to really get my saliva glands activating, even though there’s still some dryness and tingle on the sides of my tongue. The smoke also begins to get just a bit grittier; while it had been dense and smooth for the second third, it now has some more texture and gruffness, which in turn leaves a more lasting tingle on the tongue. The cigar finishes with a bit more pepper and flavor intensity, settling in at medium-full, while the body is medium-plus and strength is medium-full. Construction is as good as it has been to this point, nearly flawless across the board.
- Collectively, the bands take up about 2 11/16 inches of the cigar’s 4 1/2 inch length, which by my math works out to 59.7 percent of the total space.
- I have long advocated for making use of the backside of cigar bands, and this might be one of the best examples I have seen. There are two primary bands; the one that you see features a picture of cigar rollers in the factory with a note that this cigar is a tribute to Joya de Nicaragua’s 45th anniversary, while the band underneath that mentions the company’s website, social media platforms, and the #CuatroCinco hashtag that they invite people to use when posting about the cigar.
- The ash on this cigar is fantastic, if you’re into building up big, thick clumps of it.
- I’m not great about mentioning this consistently, but I find it to be incredibly important and worthwhile to take note of the physical reactions you get from a cigar, in particular, the drying or dampening of the mouth. While I can’t say it will earn or cost a cigar points, I find it brings me into a much more complete awareness of what the cigar has to offer.
- While the round version of this vitola is called the Gran Cónsul in the Antaño and Gran Antaño lines, it is called La Pesadilla, or the nightmare, in the Antaño Dark Corojo line.
- There is also a vitola simply called Cónsul, a petit robusto that measures 4 1/2 x 52, which appears in several lines.
- The Gran Consul is one of the first distinct vitolas I can remember discovering when I was just getting into cigars. I remember seeing it at a now-shuttered shop just outside of Phoenix, and thinking that this beefy, short, stout cigar with the tapered head simply looked too interesting not to try. While it may not be my favorite vitola, it does generate a fond memory.
- While this size doesn’t exist in the regular production Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial line, the closest size that is readily available is the 5 x 56 Double Robusto.
- In addition to the honors for its cigars, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A. was named halfwheel’s 2019 Factory of the Year.
- None of the three samples left me feeling an appreciable nicotine buzz, which is great considering the flavor profile.
- In addition to the aforementioned Asian countries, Tor Imports—Joya de Nicaragua’s U.K. distributor—has indicated it will be available in some stores in the U.K.
- The cigars are being distributed by Cigraal.
- Joya de Nicaragua advertises on halfwheel.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Joya de Nicaragua.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes on average.
- Update (May 28, 2020): Added estimated pricing information based off the pricing in Hong Kong, where the cigar costs HK$288 and HK$2880 per box.
To say that Joya de Nicaragua has been on a roll lately would be an understatement, and the Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial Edición Asia keeps the string of very good cigars going. The Gran Cónsul vitola and the cigar's blend seem to work together well; at its best, the cigar is incredibly well balanced, deep in flavor, subtlety complex and yet still capable of delivering both senses-tingling pepper and a bit of robustness. On top of that, the construction is fantastic. If you have the opportunity to try this cigar, I'd certainly recommend it. If not, thankfully there are four other sizes that should be fairly readily available that will give you a good idea of what you missed.