Distinguished Ruffian

Joya De Nicaragua Antano Gran Reserva TAA Exclusive

Antano Grand Reserva TAA ExclusiveJoya de Nicaragua and Drew Estate Introduce: Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente, a TAA Exclusive Vitola. Five decades ago, The Tobacconist Association of America (TAA), and also, Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua began operations. TAA is a group of selected tobacco retailers and specialists in the US and JDN is Nicaragua’s first cigar factory in operation and the referent of what it means to be the most Nicaraguan cigar. The New Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente was presented at the 50th TAA Convention that ran from April 29th to May 3rd in Casa de Campo, La Romana in the Dominican Republic. Luckily I was able to get my hands on a few to try out.

When first looking at the cigar the box press style gives it a solid look to its construction. The wrapper is the color of light roasted coffee bean with hints of red that remind me of the clay in Colorado or maybe north Georgia. It is smooth with minimal veining and a matte oil sheen. There is a fair amount of firmness to the body but gives under pressure. 

IMG_0380.JPGThe smell from the body gives notes of earth, leather and a bit of wet grass, from the foot the odors are more sweet and reminiscent of dried fruit with pepper lurking in the background. Since it is a box press I choose a V cut, the cutting process does not damage the cigar. The pre-light draw gives a light resistance and provides the usual rich tobacco flavor you would expect from the cigar. Lighting takes no effort and it burns sharp and even from the beginning.

The draw has a medium resistance but not so much so that you feel like you are fighting with it. I produces loads of rich heavy smoke and leaves a tight light gray ash. The flavors are very earthy with a bit of nuttiness and perhaps a touch of sweetness on the finish. These flavors continued through the first half with no discernible changes. The construction remains prefect and the burn is razor sharp.

Reaching the second half the flavor profile stays mostly the same a bit of pepper does sneak in on the finish adding a slightly new element. While the pepper notes are short lived the earth and nut flavors are always pleasant and enjoyable. The cigar continues to burn evenly with no construction issues that could be found. The smoke production is more than ample and delightful.

Joya de Nicaragua TAA ExclusiveDr. Martínez Cuenca, Joya de Nicaragua’s Chairman, and CEO said “When I requested the Gran Reserva blend in the Presidente size, it immediately became my private smoke. This is by far my personal vitola and the one that I request [from] the factory for my daily smokes, I decided to share it only for special occasions. I can’t think of a better opportunity than this shared celebration of five decades of perseverance and companionship between TAA, its members, and Joya de Nicaragua.” Joya de Nicaragua and Drew Estate are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of TAA, and 10 years of distribution partnership by introducing the Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente, exclusively for TAA.

In all the cigar was a good mellow to medium smoke that, for the most part, had the same flavor characteristics that lasted throughout the entire cigar. While most people tend to go on about a cigars complexity sometimes it’s nice to sit down and have a cigar keep the same flavor profile for the duration of the smoke and this cigar did just that. I can see why this was chosen as Dr. Cuenca’s daily smoke, it is easy on the palate, has a great flavor from the beginning and no surprises halfway through. This cigar good easily be enjoyed by rookies and seasoned smokers and with its mild to medium body it would pair easily with any beverage of your choice. With it’s great construction, great burn time and great flavor I would definitely recommend picking these up when you see them.

Wrapper: Nicaraguan

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Vitola: 6 ¾ x 50

Price: $12.50

Website: http://joyacigars.com/

Rating: 4.4 out of 5 pints

Wasabi From Espinosa

Espinosa WasabiIn November 2016, a series of cigars from Espinosa Cigars were released. There was a total of eight to be used as part of the company’s “Backroom Series” available exclusively to the Espinosa-branded lounges. In April one of these cigars, the Wasabi, was brought onto the market again as a limited release of 500 boxes of 10. This release just happened to co-ordinate during our annual Crawfish Boil that we hosted along with Erik and his son so I managed to get my hands on quite a few of these guys.

Of course as we talked about the cigar the mention of people thinking it was flavored with wasabi came up (much like how some people seemed to think that the Pickle Juice was also flavored with pickles). Of course this is not the case and the name was picked solely because he liked the name. Of course Erik does refer to it as a spicy candela so I have a sneaking suspicion that might have had something to do with it as well.

When you first look at the cigar it has a pleasing overall look to it. The color of the candela is a nice pale green color. There are some noticeable veins throughout the wrapper but over all it is smooth to the touch and the seams are tight and even. The Habano tip adds a nice contrast to the overall look of the cigar. Construction feels firm but giving enough not to feel over packed when pressure is applied with the fingers and no dead spots were apparent when inspected.

The odor from the body is light and sweet, while the odor from the foot leans a bit more towards a hay or barnyard odor with a hint of pepper. The cap cuts easily with no damage done to the construction. Pre-light draw is easy and has a mild tobacco flavor, some sweetness and a touch of pepper to it. The cigar lights evenly and produces plenty of medium weight smoke on the tongue.

The first half of this cigar comes across with a decent amount of spice to it. In the foreground to me is a good amount of white pepper and citrus. Definitely a solid medium / medium heavy cigar at this point. The burn is even and stays consistent for the most part. The ash is a dark grey in color and drops off about every ½ inch.

Reaching the second half the cigar really starts to mellow out and more of its earthy tones start to move to the front. The spice is still there on the finish but the taste of smoked cedar and peat become more prominent. This lasts until reaching the end of the cigar where the full strength becomes noticeable and the pepper fights its way back to the forefront of the flavors.

In all after smoking several of these I have to say I really enjoy them. Not something I’d recommend for the beginner but would easily recommend it to someone who likes a variety of flavor and is looking for something to try that you don’t see every day. Better go out and grab some before they all disappear. 500 boxes sounds like a lot but trust me, with how good these guys are they will be gone before you know it.

Wrapper/Binder/Filler: Ancient Japanese Secret

Website: https://www.espinosacigars.com

Rating: 4.4 out of 5 pints

Debonaire Daybreak Toro

Debonaire Daybreak ToroWith the expanded availability of Debonaire Cigars I have found myself trying more of them lately. The more recent one has been the Daybreak Toro. Drew Estate offers this opinion about the cigar, “Wrapped in Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade, the Daybreak offers a full flavor version of a Connecticut wrapped cigar and comes into market at a more introductory price. While enjoying Daybreak, smokers can expect crisp notes of spice and earthiness from the Nicaraguan fillers, a nutty and sweet richness from the Dominican tobacco in the binder and filler, and a smooth finish from the Connecticut wrapper.” While that’s a charming description I’m curious to see what I discover.

A view of the body shows a well constructed cigar with tight seams and very minimal veining. The Connecticut Shade wrapper is a milk chocolate color, feels like silk and has a slight oily sheen to it. The roll feels ample but not bulging and no dead spots can be found. The odor from the body is present but soft on the nose giving odors of raisin and cedar. From the foot the same odors are noticed along with earth tones.

The cap cuts easily and the construction holds. The pre-light draw is easy and there is no struggle and gives flavors of rich tobacco and leather. The cigar lights with no issue and the burn is sharp.

The first half has light bread flavors with a touch of spice falling into the medium body range for me. While smoking through the first half the flavor profile remains consistent and enjoyable. It produces plenty of light weight smoke with an ash that is light grey and holds on for about a half inch at a time. The burn line stays sharp with no need to retouch.

Moving into the second half the flavor intensity begins to pick up. The softer bread flavors are still there but move to the back and the spices become a bit more present along with a citrus note that I wasn’t aware of in the first half. Still definitely in the medium body flavor range but a fun shift in taste. It continues to burn sharp for the remainder of the smoke and the construction holds up for the duration as well.

In all I enjoyed this cigar, it’s perfect for that morning smoke with coffee or great later in the evening if you want something enjoyable for your palate while you watch a movie. Given that it’s made by Debonaire you know the quality is going to be top notch and the tobacco is going to be superb. While some have criticized the price point it’s worth the couple extra bucks for the quality. If you are looking for a nice medium flavored smoke or are a new smoker that likes a light cigar and wants to step up a bit in flavor without going too heavy, I recommend picking up a couple of these. You won’t be disappointed. Be sure to check out the review of their Sagita Petite Lancero too.

Wrapper: Ecuadorean Connecticut Shade

Binder: San Vicente (DR)

Filler Nicaraguan & Dominican

Website: Debonairerum.com

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 pints