Nicaragua’s first cigar factory (founded in 1964) created the Joya de Nicaragua brand in the 1970s and it was considered the finest, not only in Nicaragua, but in the entire world. Renowned for its rich, full flavor, it was actually smoked by US presidents. Sadly, decades of war and Communist rule destroyed the brand and decimated the factory, and most of Nicaragua for that matter. Fortunately, the country has been on the rise, and thankfully, so is the brand. We love a good puro, especially a Nicaraguan puro! And, when we get ‘em, you can bet they’re a big hit with those on our review panel who prefer the big-bodied ka-pow of strong cigars. This new Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 was recently re-blended to celebrate the rich heritage and worldwide renown the brand enjoyed in the ‘70s. The word Antaño means “long ago,” and while it may not have been all that many years ago, the company clearly longed for that period of glory. We found the cigar firm to the touch with no soft spots, offering a cool, even burn and effortless draw. The flavor is identifiably Nicaraguan. Very full-bodied and robust, offering a huge spicy temperament with a slightly sweet taste, one could characterize it as a “muscle cigar.” Not surprisingly, you can expect a long and complex finish. This new Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 earned a terrific 91 rating from Cigar Insider and has been named one of Cigar Aficionado’s Top 50 Cigars. A strong cigar warrants a strong drink—an XO Cognac or bourbon would complement this stick well.
The Nicaraguan cigar industry originated when Cuban cigar makers escaped the revolution and re-established their livelihood in Nicaragua with Cuban-seed tobacco. Blessed with dark, rich soil, their new home was ideal for tobacco cultivation and Nicaragua quickly became known for cigars that rivaled Cuban quality. Unfortunately, revolution and war came to Nicaragua in the 1980s and devastated the industry, but it’s rebounded dramatically and is once again producing tobacco considered by many to be the finest in the world.
The Esteli Valley is in many ways the heart of Nicaraguan production and is known for its very powerful and spicy tobacco. The Jalapa Valley produces arguably the finest tobacco in the country: somewhat sweeter and less intense than Esteli, but extremely complex. The tobacco of the Condega Valley is often described as a blend of the other two regions.
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