Author: billykartwheels

Joya Antaño CT: Joya Series Part 1 of 5

Joya Antaño CT

We are about to embark on a journey. A journey that will educate you, a journey that will possibly send you cigar shopping at your local brick and mortar or perhaps shop online for the cigars that Joya de Nicaragua has to offer. It’s certainly a “family” of cigars that have always steered me right. Just like when I am working at Ed Leez tobacco here in Albany, NY, [shameless plug but we’ll allow it] I introduce fellow cigar enthusiasts to something new or different, or even guiding a new cigar smoker, there are 3 top cigars (from a mild stand point) that I choose to show and the Antaño CT is right at the top of my list. Now, I can talk about ALL of the cigars that JDN has to offer, in fact; that’s exactly my intent for the next several reviews. Some you may have had, some you may have not and others, there might be a chance, you didn’t know about. To kick things off with I’m going to start with the Antaño CT. Let’s get into it! 

The Antaño CT was introduced to the market back in 2019 at the IPCPR Trade Show. With its Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper and a Nicaraguan binder & filler this is not your typical mild cigar. Very bold in flavor it’s s damn near a flawless cigar from start to finish. Being that JDN had been established since 1968 they have had many of years to perfect some really good tasting cigars. As for the Antaño CT it has a silky smooth wrapper; almost a butterscotch look to it and to quote the JDN website “It may seem tamer than its bolder predecessors. Don’t be fooled, Antaño CT is a masterful and paradoxical blend of what a cigar with attitude can look like. A cigar that defies expectations; a smoke for those with defying souls.” So without further ado let’s cut, light, sit back, relax, and enjoy! 

As I usually do pre-light I take a couple of cold draws and was picking up some cedar, earthy wood, rich soil, and floral notes. Usually the rich soil flavor of a cigar I do not notice but perhaps because of the rich volcanic soil JDN grows their tobacco in there is a subtle hint of that richness during a couple of cold draws. Onward to the lighting up! 

Right off the first puff I immediately pick up some black pepper, wood, citrus and cream. As I continue into the first third the pepper calms down yet that cream and citrus with a hint of floral emerges victorious as the journey continues. Black pepper still hangs around but it’s subtle and graces your palate with a nice balance of profiles. Cedar, toasted almonds and a soft essence of cinnamon join the party. 

Smoking into my second third the profiles are certainly swirling around like being spun on a dance floor. The profiles dance forward, backward, sideways, and every which way. All staying consistent and switching partners along the way. You’ll get some in the front and then they will go in the back but all in harmony as the dosey doe continues to bring joy to my palate. The citrus and cream notes really tie this square dance all together.

Ready to finish this dance party heading into the last third the wood, cream, a slight taste of Cinnamon, toasted Almonds and citrus, hang strong as I enter that last third the black pepper starts to really come through yet the balance really happens when that soft white pepper joins the black pepper. It’s not POW in your face or harsh, it’s this perfect balance of peppers that hit me. That deep rich spice of black pepper yet that soft creamy touch of the white pepper subdue the black pepper so it doesn’t smack you to harshly. 

The burn is absolutely outstanding and stayed consistent all the way through. The strength of the Antaño CT is truly a mild to medium cigar yet for most of us full body smokers out there; Mild with a ton of flavor! A perfect sequential dance that leaves the palate wanting more! 

The Antano CT is available in four sizes and each presented in 20 count boxes. Robusto: (5×52) $8.45 MSRP, Corona Gorda: (5 ¼ x46) $8.00 MSRP, Toro; (6×52) $9.70 MSRP, also the size I smoked, and Belicoso: (6×54) $9.90 MSRP. So there you have it folks the first review of the JDN line of cigars with more to come. So stay tuned to the IG posts on when our Distinguished Ruffian Website will be posting the next review. Certainly a very HIGHLY recommended cigar for you to try and have again; a 5 out of 5 pints for me! Until next time STAY SMOKEY everyone!!

Wrapper –   Ecuadorian Connecticut shade

Binder – Nicaraguan

Filler – Nicaraguan


Rating: 5 out of 5 pints

  • William O’Connor, AKA Billy Kartwheels, is the Co-Captian of the Distinguished Ruffians NY Chapter. Billy has had an interesting life, going through college, being in the Navy and living on a submarine, he has visited 48 states (hitchhiking through 35) of them and even lived in a Hare Krishna monastery for some time. After having numerous brushes with death durring his travels he has decided it was best to take it easy and appreciate life to its fullest all while smoking a cigar at the same time. 

Menelik by Foundation Cigars

The Menelik Foundation Cigars

Here is a cigar that certainly ranks in my top ten of all time. Being introduced to Foundation Cigars years ago, I had no idea that years later I would, not only appreciate Foundation Cigars, but be able to actually meet Nick Melillo at TPE20 and fully embrace the quality of some top notch tobacco within the industry. 

The Menelik is offered in only one size (4 ½ x 52). It has Nicaraguan tobacco filler and binder with a San Andres wrapper, and to top it off The Menelik includes TABSA’S (Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.) signature Aganorsa Leaf tobacco. 

Back in 2017, Foundation Cigar Company added an event-only cigar known as the Menelik. After two years, Nick Melillo made a decision to bring The Menelik in as a limited production line and the cigar was showcased at the 2019 IPCPR Trade show. For those that are reading this article and don’t know what cigars are within foundation Cigars then I’ll share with you a little background on when Foundation Cigar Company launched. First was, The El Gueguense (The Wise Man), and The Tabernacle. The Tabernacle pays homage to the resting place for the Ark of the Covenant, which is said to be in a wooden chest containing two stone tablets representing the Ten Commandments. The Tabernacle is said to have been dismantled and superseded by King Solomon. Today the country of Ethiopia claims to be home of the Ark of Covenant. It turns out that Menelik was an ancient emperor of Ethiopia and is said to be the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Menelik was also known as Ibn al-Hakim which translates into “Son of the Wise Man” – thus the tie-ins to both cigars. Also included within the Foundation Cigar Company are the Charter Oak, The Upsetters, and Highclere Castle. 

Now you’ve had a little from the past – now for some of the present. I’m about to cold draw and light this amazingly crafted cigar! This cigar does have a pig tail yet I did decide to straight cut it. First tasting notes that come to mind upon taking a few cold draws are chocolate, spice, and some deep rich earthy sweet notes, all of which get the palate salivating and ready for light up! 

Right from the first light I’m getting some red pepper dusted with cocoa powder with a hint of molasses and a sweetness of black cherry kind of comes through. Going right into the first third that spicy red pepper note dissipates while a velvety smooth chocolate and molasses stays strong on the palate. The burn stays slow and consistent, can’t help but feel like I’m having a sweet n savory treat. The Menelik has some deep rooted earthy spicy chocolaty notes with that dark cherry covered in maple and molasses. 

Smoking into the next third of The Menelik some light toasted nuttiness comes through with that sweetness still hanging around although, that dark cherry profile went away and moved into a hint of blackberry with molasses still lingering. Acknowledging the perfect balance between the earthy and sweetness of The Menelik. Chocolate still hanging strong and not just traditional Hershey chocolate but we are talkin layers of richness with that velvety Dove chocolate profile. Smoking into the last third not much has changed in profile. Twists & turns of maybe certain profiles rotate from the front of the palate to the back of the palate and vise versa but overall the balance between everything certainly brings a lot of joy during the journey of smoking The Menelik. With a price tag of only $13.00 (unless you’re in N.Y. or CA then the price tag goes UP) this is a cigar that I will smoke again and again; over and over; when I see them ANYWHERE there is no doubt without question or hesitation I will purchase as much as I can. Again, they are a limited production so when you do get a chance to see them whether individually or a box of 12 it’s certainly a must buy! For me a 5 out of 5 pints ALL THE WAY!!! Hope you get to enjoy one of these spectacular, perfectly balanced, well crafted cigar!

Wrapper –  San Andres Mexico

Binder – Corojo 99 Jalapa

Filler – Esteli, Condega, Jalapa


Rating: 5.0 out of 5 pints.

  • William O’Connor, AKA Billy Kartwheels, is the Co-Captian of the Distinguished Ruffians NY Chapter. Billy has had an interesting life, going through college, being in the Navy and living on a submarine, he has visited 48 states (hitchhiking through 35) of them and even lived in a Hare Krishna monastery for some time. After having numerous brushes with death durring his travels he has decided it was best to take it easy and appreciate life to its fullest all while smoking a cigar at the same time. 

Dos Cientos: by Joya De Nicaragua

Dos Cientos

Now here is a very interesting and dynamite cigar to add to the Joya De Nicaragua already premium collection of magnificent smokes; Unfortunately Dos Cientos is a one-time release which was came out in August 2021. As stated by Joya Cigars “Dos Cientos; which means “200 years” was masterfully blended to celebrate the bicentennial of Central America’s independence from the Spanish Empire. It is a super-premium and limited-edition cigar that embodies our region’s history. It features a multi-origin blend with tobacco from different Latin American territories; Dos Cientos provides a very distinct smoking experience in my opinion of course.” 

Last 15th of September 2021 had marked the 200th anniversary of Central American Independence. This set the stage for the creation of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua to commemorate the occasion. As Juan Ignacio Martinez, president of Joya de Nicaragua explains in a press release “For us there is always a link between the past and the present. We are who we are today because of the decisions that were made hundreds of years ago. Dos Cientos pays tribute to those 200 years and who we are today as the leading cigar producing country and region in the world.” 

Dr. Alejandro Martinez-Cuenca the owner of Joy de Nicaragua added “The leaf’s role in the development of our culture and our society has been fundamental. Tobacco was ever present as we created our own economic, political and cultural identities. That was the moment in which we became what we are today as a region. We want to celebrate that achievement of our own birth as a country and as a region, so we’re showcasing tobaccos from different Latin American countries-Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. We are paying tribute to the Latin Americans and the Americans who achieved independence to craft their own destiny.” 

With a Habano wrapper from Ecuador, the binder being from Mexico, fillers from Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic; the monumental story behind “Dos Cientos” certainly gets my palate perked with curiosity. With a nice oily leather and chocolaty look to Dos Cientos, it most certainly gets my eagerness to spark this cigar up! Before I get into my review of this cigar; I wanted to express that it took me two to solidify my review. My first experience of Dos Cientos did not burn or draw correctly; my second attempt had exactly what I was hoping for; smooth, extremely tasty, and the burn was on point. 

Taking a few cold draws before lighting it up really got my senses going due to some hints of cardamom and dried fruit which I don’t always get from the cold draws. Upon lighting up an immediate explosion of profiles came to mind; bakers spice, leather, brown sugar, cocoa, espresso, and that dried fruit hung around. Smoking right into my first third the intensity of notes smoothed out yet the various profiles are still very present to describe. Cardamom, cinnamon, dried fruit, chocolate, almost an essence of toasted pine nuts came to mind, with that sweetness of brown sugar still lingering on the palate. One observation I will mention; have you ever had toasted pine nuts? Pine nuts, once toasted (like all nuts) will excrete oils; some more than others yet pine nuts certainly will excrete more than most. I bring this up because during my journey I was getting that oily residue around my tongue. Not a bad taste at all, in fact it enhanced the experience. 

Smoking right into my second third most of the profiles stayed consistent but some moving to the front of the line and some getting shifted around, fresh baked bread and baked plantains joined the palate party. The construction held strong, the burn was very consistent, and the flavors were really impressive. Chocolate, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, caramelized plantains, earthiness, toasted pine nuts, fresh baked bread, and that swirl of cardamom in the background really makes me want to hoof this cigar down but took my time to really get the most out of Dos Cientos. 

Burning right into my last third, some of the profiles like toasted pine nuts, fresh baked bread, cardamom, and cinnamon started fading away while black pepper comes to the table, along with sweetened espresso and the traditional chocolate taste became a rich dark chocolate with that essence of brown sugar still lingering. I smoked this right down to the nub and it did not get hot or did I taste any type of bitterness to end the journey prematurely. 

Over all I rate this cigar 4 out of 5 and absolutely worth the $17 price tag. The Dos Cientos is available in a single 6×54 toro size. Production is limited to 3,000 boxes of 21 cigars per box. Of that number 2,000 boxes will be sold in the U.S. while the remaining 1,000 are designated for international markets. To remind you this a “one-time” cigar so if you see one, make the purchase and hope you have an exceptional cigar experience as I did! Enjoy!

Wrapper –  Ecuador

Binder – Mexico

Filler – Nicaragua /Handuros/Dominican Republic


Rating: 4.0 out of 5 pints.

  • William O’Connor, AKA Billy Kartwheels, is the Co-Captian of the Distinguished Ruffians NY Chapter. Billy has had an interesting life, going through college, being in the Navy and living on a submarine, he has visited 48 states (hitchhiking through 35) of them and even lived in a Hare Krishna monastery for some time. After having numerous brushes with death durring his travels he has decided it was best to take it easy and appreciate life to its fullest all while smoking a cigar at the same time.