Since the mid-nineties, there’s been a general movement in the U.S. premium cigar market toward stronger cigars. The first real powerhouse to drive the market, in my opinion, was the Camacho Corojo, and a lot of people who tried it felt that nothing would be able to top it for strength. That proved to be untrue, as many “beasts” found their way to humidor shelves, but many were just power with less-than-stellar flavor. As a devotee of this kind of stick, I tried most of them and went back to the Camacho, until one fateful day…
I was not in the business at the time, but I routinely stopped by the shop to buy some cigars. Scott (the owner, and now, my boss) knew that I enjoyed the real butt-kickers, so when I noticed a smile and a little gleam in his eye as I entered the humidor, I knew he had something to show me. He wanted me to try a new Nicaraguan cigar that had just arrived, one that might even test my tolerance for strength. He then introduced me to the Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970.
Joya de Nicaragua had become, by the early seventies, one of the most popular premium cigars in the U.S. In fact, for a while, it was the official cigar of the White House. I loved the richness of those smokes, but then came the takeover of the industry by the government, and many of the Nicaraguan brands disappeared, including JDN. When the climate was right for the rebirth of the brand, they started shipping cigars with the old brown, white and green band, but where the originals were full and spicy, these were disappointingly mild and bland, so I just shrugged and moved on, until Scott handed me an Antaño, and a love affair was born.
Don’t expect me to be impartial in this review. This is my “go-to” cigar, and has been for quite a while. I did, however, take about an hour and a half to scrutinize a Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Robusto Grande.
Cigar Review: Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Robusto Grande
This is a nice-looking long robusto or short toro (5.5×52) with a mahogany-colored wrapper that has a nice oily sheen. There are some medium sized veins in the somewhat leathery leaf. The pre-light aroma tantalizes the nose with tangy and spicy notes, and after a nice clean cut, I took a draw on the unlit cigar and was greeted with a sharply aromatic wood taste. After carefully toasting the foot, I lit up. The flavor of this stogie is explosive. Big hits of dark coffee, sweet wood, leather and black and red pepper flood the taste buds, and there’s an occasional hint of sulfur that enhances the overall flavor profile. The complexity of the Antaño is one of its hallmarks, and the flavors only intensify as it goes.
One of the most pleasant things about this cigar, in my opinion, is the aroma. The room note is fragrant and robust and quite unique. I can always tell when someone has an Antaño cooking. The combination of a Cuban-seed Criollo wrapper and Habano filler and binder makes for a truly singular scent.
The construction is the one area that’s a bit strange. These cigars are rolled using the entubar method, which packs more tobacco into the filler, so they smoke pretty slowly and last about 10 to 20% longer than similar sticks. The only issue I have with this vitola is that it tends to burn a bit unevenly much of the time. The reason for the difficulty is the fact that this cigar uses a thicker, tougher and more leathery wrapper. Because of that, it can tunnel if it is smoked too slowly, and the puckering of the wrapper due to the tunneling will cause a somewhat wonky burn, but I can overlook that because of the monster flavor.
Is this cigar for everyone? Absolutely not. If you can’t deal with intense, spicy flavor, stay away. If you have problems with high nicotine content, avoid this cigar. But if you want a rich, peppery smoke that keeps getting better, this is a must-try.
Click here to try a Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Robusto Grande single stick for yourself, or treat yourself to an entire box of Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Robusto Grandes!