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Joya de Nicaragua, largely known in the U.S. for producing stronger cigars, introduced a medium-bodied cigar into its portfolio this past week at the 2014 IPCPR convention and trade show. JOYA RED is a Nicaraguan puro that will be sold in four sizes, with prices ranging from $5.75-$8. The project for developing a new cigar has been led by Juan Ignacio Martínez, the company’s president and the son of owner Dr. Alejandro Martínez Cuenca, and Leonel Raudez, Joya’s longtime factory manager.

“Our Company has changed a lot over the past few years and I’m excited to be part of a new side of JDN,” said Ignacio Martínez in a press release. “We can say that JOYA RED is a true rediscovery of our factory, tobaccos and blends. This new cigar is classy as always, but a lot more fun”. 

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JOYA RED Box 1

JOYA RED Box 2

JOYA RED Box 3

There will be four different vitolas of the JOYA RED at launch, all of which will be sold in 20-count boxes.

  • JOYA RED Short Churchill (4 3/4 x 48)
  • JOYA RED Robusto (5 1/4 x 50)
  • JOYA RED Toro (6 x 52)
  • JOYA RED Cañonazo (5 1/2 x 54)

JOYA RED Robusto 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: JOYA RED Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 1/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $5.75 (Boxes of 20, $115.00)
  • Release Date: July 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review:

Covered in a dark red-brown wrapper that is silky smooth to the touch, the JOYA RED Robusto is quite dense when held in your hand, and has just a tiny amount of give when squeezed. There is some oil noticeable on the wrapper, as well as some fairly significant veins running up and down the length. Aroma from the wrapper has some of the strongest dark cocoa notes I have smelled in quite a while, combined with barnyard, hay and cedar while the cold draw brings flavors of cocoa, oak, earth and slight spice.

The JOYA RED Robusto starts out the same dark cocoa from the cold draw, along with gritty earth, sweet leather, creamy oak, nuts and toast. Every once in a while I pick up an extremely interesting vegetable note that reminds me strongly of asparagus, although it seems to fade as the first third winds down. I am also aware of a slight generic sweetness on the retrohale that combines nicely with a touch of black pepper. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent, with just the right amount of resistance and while the burn is far from razor sharp it has not needed to be touched up so far. Smoke production is about average and the overall strength almost hits the medium mark at the end of the first third.

JOYA RED Robusto 2

While the dark cocoa note is still very much the dominant flavor as the second third of the JOYA RED, I taste some tart citrus on the retrohale every once in a while, along with other notes of oak, nuts, leather and earth. The asparagus flavor from the first third is long gone, but the generic sweetness has strengthened enough for me to identify it as a rich plum-like note. The black pepper on the retrohale has increased slightly, but does not seem to be going much further and while the burn has evened up nicely, the draw continues to impress. Strength-wise, the JOYA RED easily crosses the medium mark by the end of the second third, but does not seem to be going anywhere after that anytime soon.

JOYA RED Robusto 3

The final third of the Joya de Nicaragua features slightly less dark cocoa, but slightly more rich plum sweetness on the palate, along with flavors of earth, leather, creamy peanuts, slight tart citrus and oak. The black pepper on the retrohale has increased noticeably from the levels seen in the second third, but not so much that it destroys the excellent balance that the blend is exhibiting. While the overall strength stalled out at a solid medium, the smoke production has increased as well, putting out dense, white clouds with every puff. Construction-wise, the JOYA RED has a draw that is just excellent until I nub the cigar, while the burn has not given me any major issues at all.

JOYA RED Robusto 4

Final Notes

  • The cigar is known as JOYA RED, which is supposed to make it easier to identify than Joya de Nicaragua Red.
  • It’s somewhat interesting that the company is now known for strong cigars, as that’s not always been the case. In fact, most of its portfolio—like just about every other cigar company—is probably somewhere between mild to   medium. However, in the U.S., Joya has been marked for its Antaño products.
  • The 5 1/2 x 54 Cañonazo vitola was originally named Cardinal, but was changed most likely due to a conflict with the Cardinal name. E.P. Carrillo currently has a line called Cardinal.
  • I noticed that there was some writing on the back of the band, basically the website and social media links, along with the term “Rediscover Joya!” Honestly, I am surprised that more manufacturers do not take advantage of the blank space under the band.

JOYA RED Band

  • The finish is excellent, a wonderful combination of sweet nuttiness and creamy cedar that lingers for quite a while.
  • There is a slick promotional video on the JOYA RED release that you can find here.
  • We just got back from the annual IPCPR show in Las Vegas, and you can see our coverage of the Joya de Nicaragua (and Drew Estate) booth here.
  • While the burn was very good overall for all three samples I smoked, the draw was the standout in the construction category, with each cigar giving my ideal amount of resistance when puffing.
  • Drew Estate is the U.S. distributor of Joya de Nicaragua. 
  • The cigars for this review were provided by site sponsor Joya de Nicaragua. 
  • The final smoking time for both samples averaged one hour and 25 minutes.

Leave a comment below to be eligible to win a five-pack of JOYA RED Robustos. Contest closes Aug. 4, 11:59 PM EDT. Contest rules are here.

91 Overall Score

The JOYA RED tastes almost nothing like any of the rest of the cigars that Joya de Nicaragua makes, and that is most assuredly a good thing. It is exceptionally well balanced, with a great dark cocoa core to the profile that meshes well with the plum-like sweetness that is prevalent throughout the final two thirds and an interesting citrus tartness that shows up every once in a while. Add in the excellent price point and the wonderful draw on all samples, and this is a winner for Joya de Nicaragua no matter how you look at it. A lot of people are going to be very pleasantly surprised by this cigar, and I think that is exactly what Joya de Nicaragua was trying to accomplish.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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