Dimensions/Shape: 5 1/2 by 52 ring gauge; Parejo
Wrapper/Capa: Corojo Oscuro (Nicaragua)
Filler/Tripa: Condega, Estelí, Jalapa (Nicaragua)
Tabacalera: Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, S.A. (Nicaragua)
MSRP: $9.90 single, $198.00 box of 20
Established in 1968 in Estelí, Joya de Nicaragua is Nicaragua’s first and oldest premium cigar producer. Since its founding, much has changed in Nicaragua’s history: civil wars, revolutions, and an embargo; all of these milestones have helped to shape Joya de Nicaragua and, indeed, the Nicaraguan cigar. Brought to market in 2002, the Antaño 1970 harked back to the strong, robust cigars made by Joya de Nicaragua in its early years, reintroducing the true full-bodied cigar to the then, in hindsight, mild-loving global market. The resulting success of the Antaño 1970 was honored with the making of the Antaño Gran Reserva, a limited-edition blend released in 2005.
Celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of the release of the Antaño 1970, Joya de Nicaragua launched a new Antaño Gran Reserva this year, which will be in regular production as a permanent member of the Antaño family of premium Nicaraguan puros. This addition coincided with the rebranding and relaunching of the Antaño line this year, manifested in the repackaging and banding of the Antaño Dark Corojo. The now uniform family showcases the more full-flavored, original side of Joya de Nicaragua, in contrast to its Joya family of premium cigars (Joya Cabinetta, Joya Red, and Joya Black).
The new Antaño Gran Reserva is available in three vitolas: the Belicoso at 6 x 54; the Gran Cónsul, a 4.75 x 60 short belicoso; and, lastly, the Robusto Grande, a 5.5 x 52 box-pressed robusto, our subject. This Nicaraguan puro consists of a multi-region blend, similar to the Antaño 1970, and sports filler tobaccos aged up to five years, intended to impart a more nuanced and measured experience while offering classic Nicaraguan flavors.
The corojo oscuro wrapper of the Antaño Gran Reserva exudes a rich sheen and has a lovely, soft texture, while emanating notes reminiscent of salt, black pepper, and light, citrusy Virginia pipe tobacco. Slight fudge and barnyard notes are found in the light foot aroma. After trimming off just enough cap, the cold draw brings mouthwatering notes of chocolate, similar to a milky hot cocoa.
From the first light, cayenne-spice with a sweet chocolate finish comprises a full-intensity beginning, partnered with a great smoke output. The smooth retrohale brings notes of coffee and baking spices, along with a growing sweetness on the palate. The aroma of the foot smoke is a pungent, dusty cedar. This introduction develops after a few draws into an increasingly complex experience, particularly with the blend’s creamy, sweet-spicy finish.
Settling into the first third, the smoke still has the pleasant hot-spice character, though now with an addition of a wood note. The sweet finish begins to feature a vanilla note and a building coffee note. Even in these early draws, there is some strength present. Progressing closer to the second third, salt and black pepper notes enter on the finish to accompany the lingering vanilla note. The flavor intensity eases slightly to medium-full.
Now arriving into the second third of the Antaño Gran Reserva, the development of the coffee and black pepper notes on the finish are now becoming present on the draw, while notes of wood and hay come and go. The retrohale really highlights the creamy sweetness of the cigar and sprinkles more black pepper into the experience. The finish is, again, creamy, and is now taking on the character of a milky cup of coffee. The blend’s flavor intensity has stabilized at medium-full, though its strength becomes increasingly noticeable.
Reaching the final third, some more slight transitions grace the palate. A slight nuttiness along with an intensifying of the black pepper note present themselves on the finish. Interestingly, the chocolate note present in the first light begins to reemerge, particularly with the retrohale and in the foot smoke. Similarly, heading towards end of the cigar, the black pepper note reverts back to the cayenne, hot-spice note present in the first draws. The predominant creaminess is still present, and notes of toast enter the draw and finish. The flavor intensity has remained medium-full; meanwhile, the blend’s strength has almost reached a medium-full. This box-pressed robusto’s smoke time averaged one hour and fifteen minutes.
Dessert-like would be an appropriate description of the Antaño Gran Reserva. Though it would not conform to most cigar smokers’ perceptions of a “dessert stick,” the blend’s character is indeed similar, imparting the smoker with sufficient chocolate, coffee, sweet, and spice notes. While it is definitely not as robust as the Antaño 1970 and the Antaño Dark Corojo, the Antaño Gran Reserva fits well in the family, sharing classic Nicaraguan tobacco flavors in a stronger format. The blend does offer a decent amount of transitions and complexity, likely lending from Joya de Nicaragua’s implementation of well aged tobaccos.
In summary, the three Antaño Gran Reservas smoked for this piece lent nothing less than an exceptional experience, bringing satisfying transitions and developments to times well spent. Indeed, this new member of the Antaño family brings refinement and decadence to their bold Nicaraguan characters.