While the acronym TAA stands for Tobacconists’ Association of America, in the case of the Joya de Nicaragua Selección de Torcedor 2019, it could also stand for Testers’ Association of America.

The reason for that is that Joya de Nicaragua launched a new project—the Selección de Torcedor—at the association’s annual meeting held in March 2019. Instead of just creating a new limited edition cigar for the group, the company brought back the Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente, a 6 3/4 x 50 vitola that is an exclusive to TAA retailers. Joya de Nicaragua is limiting production of the size to 1,000 boxes of 20 cigars, a total of 20,000 total cigars.

To complement this second release of the Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente, Joya de Nicaragua introduced the Selección de Torcedor, which it is offering in five packs to be used as a sales incentive for retailers to offer their customers, as well as to get feedback on to see if it might be popular enough to become a regular release.

“We are so humbled by all the recognition we received last year during our 50th anniversary, that we decided we needed to give an extra step to express our gratitude with the trade and the industry, and this is how we came up with the Selección de Torcedor program, that will be part of something even bigger,” said Juan Ignacio Martínez, executive president of Joya de Nicaragua, in a press release when the cigar was announced in May. 

  • Cigar Reviewed: Joya de Nicaragua Selección de Torcedor 2019
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Undisclosed
  • Binder: Undisclosed
  • Filler: Undisclosed
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: Undisclosed
  • Release Date: May 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: Undisclosed
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Visually, there’s not much compelling about the vitola, a standard 6 x 52 toro that might well be becoming the most common size found in retail humidors. The wrapper is a medium shade of brown that is just slightly reddish in spots, while the texture is dry to the fingers. There is a network of small veins that adds to the look, some more prominent than others but none that are excessively big. The cigar is rolled well, feeling a bit firm and showing clean seam lines and a well constructed cap. The foot has a bit of brown sugar to it, minus the overt sweetness, with some samples adding cool creaminess but none offering much pepper. The cold draw is smooth and easy, with a bit of vanilla ice cream sweetness up front before moving into more organic notes that remind me a bit of a forest profile: a bit damp, a bit earthy, even a bit mossy at times, with some tree bark as well.

The Joya de Nicaragua Selección de Torcedor 2019 starts out on a note that ranges from mild-plus to medium-plus, varying largely due to the first puffs either having a pinch or several of pepper brightening up an enjoyable if uneventful wheat bread flavor. A dry wood note comes along, and there are a few instances where the cigar has the kind of notes that would pair well with a blended Scotch. In the first inch, there’s just the slightest twinge of sourness, more similar to sourdough bread than anything off-putting, but it does distract from what else the cigar has to offer. That profile is still rather restrained the first sample, something I feel odd writing about any Joya de Nicaragua cigar, though after the No. 1—now Numero Uno—it isn’t that foreign of an exercise. The second sample opens it up a bit more than the others, sitting medium-plus to even full in intensity, while strength is a few ticks below that as the flavor doesn’t have a heavier, grounding note behind it.

The second third of the Joya de Nicaragua Selección de Torcedor 2019 sees the profile take the slightest step forward in terms of strength and flavor intensity, though it would be a change easily overlooked on the milder expressions during a conversation or if distracted by something else. At the midpoint, the cigar takes a more noticeable step forward with pepper, and maybe it’s me turning to retrohales more frequently, but that’s where I pick it up, and as soon as I do the overall experience intensifies in unison. If I had to guess the profile at this point, I’d be inclined to think the wrapper comes from  Ecuador, though the profile has me thinking Sumatra on one puff and then habano on the next, while the opening third had me thinking it could have even been Connecticut, though the wrapper’s appearance didn’t mesh with that assessment. For obvious reasons, I’m inclined to think there is Nicaragua tobacco underneath that, though the first has me placing it at the opposite end of the spectrum of the company’s more ligero-forward offerings. The second sample has me questioning that, though I doubt I’d confuse this with an Antaño, while the third go round with the blend makes me think there is just a bit of ligero, but far from being the dominant component. The draw is still nearly perfect, the burn line is generally even, and smoke production is more than sufficient. 

After evolving fairly well through the second third, the Joya de Nicaragua Selección de Torcedor 2019, the final third seems to have a u-turn sign included in the filler as the profile returns almost exactly to where it peaked in the first third, and this happens with all three samples albeit with different levels of intensity. This time around, there’s a more pointed wood note, a bit sharp, dry and tangy on the tongue, and whatever pepper is in the mix is ancillary to that flavor. Additionally, I get a much more lingering finish that dances between tingling and stinging the tongue and parts of the upper throat. I’m not crazy about the way it finishes, though a bit of warm, doughy pretzel does come in to help things out, the first instance of that flavor I can recall thus far. The cigar burns quite well all the way down to a finger-burning nub, still producing good amounts of smoke and maintaining an even burn line.

Final Notes

  • The band on this threw me off a few times, namely as I was looking for it amongst my other cigars. The Joya de Nicaragua logo is small and doesn’t immediately jump out at me, and the matte finish of the band is a departure from the increasingly shiny bands that are gracing Joya de Nicaragua cigars these days.
  • It would be easy to miss that this is a TAA exclusive release on a quick glance, but once you flip the cigar around, it’s easy to see:
  • There’s a bit of nicotine strength to be found in the Joya de Nicaragua Selección de Torcedor 2019, though it’s nowhere close to being overpowering.
  • I was definitely surprised by how quickly the cigar burned, even with my typically slow smoking rate. This further leads me to think that there’s some lighter tobaccos used in the blend as heavier leaves take longer to burn.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by Joya de Nicaragua, which advertises on halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hours and 20 minutes on average.
88 Overall Score

There are really two questions to be answered as to the Joya de Nicaragua Selección de Torcedor 2019; how is it on its own? and is it good enough to be its own release? The answer to the first is that while the cigar has some sharper spots and lacks some of the grounding notes that I think would enhance the overall impression, it's still an enjoyable cigar that isn't a typical Joya de NIcaragua profile yet shows the range of cigars that the company produce. It smokes near perfectly, with an even burn line, problem-free draw and plenty of smoke, which leaves the attention squarely where it should be: on the cigar itself. As for whether or not it could hold its own as a new line, I'm guardedly optimistic that it could, though what hole it fills in the Joya portfolio it fills is a question to which I don't have an answer.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.