Cigar Review: Joya de Nicaragua Celebracion

Our reviewer today is TriMarkC, a frequent contributor and “Ward B” member over at CigarWorld. He is a relatively new cigar smoker, starting in 2005-2006 (with Drew Estate Kuba Kuba’s). He has progressed to mild-bodied cigars (like CAO Gold Vintage), and mild-medium cigars (like Perdomo Reserve, 10th Anniversary Champagne) and then to medium cigars (like Graycliff 1666 Pirate). He is now expanding his palate into the medium-full and even some full-bodied cigars. Everyone, please help us welcome TriMarkC!

Size: 5.5×42, Corona

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Criollo

Binder: Nicaraguan Seco

Filler: Nicaraguan Habano Seco and Ligero Long Fillers

Strength: Medium-to-Full Body

Price: Box of 20, $80

The Joya de Nicaragua is a new brand to me, and these Joya de Nicaragua Celebracións were gifted to me by BrownDog from @CigarWorldcom.

For this review, I smoked two Joya de Nicaragua Celebraciòn of the corona size. I paired my first cigar with a good strong coffee – lightened with a splash of Jameson whiskey. My second cigar was matched to a light ale beer. The “Irish coffee” stood up better to this cigar’s flavors and intensity, but the ale was more refreshing and cleansed my palate better. So, your choice – go with what you like.

My first thought when looking at the Joya de Nicaragua Celebraciòn is how incongruous the cigar’s band looks to the rest of the cigar. The band is rather plain looking relative to most cigars I smoke. But then again, when I thought further, this cigar is simplistic – a Nicaraguan puro that’s not putting on any airs. The wrapper is a medium brown – not quite as dark as a maduro but more of a reddish-brown similar to a sun-grown. I could see no tears or holes on the wrapper as I examined it. It had a slightly rustic appearance with a number of small, unobtrusive veins, and small bumps from the binder material visible under the wrapper. The cap on one of my cigars was wrapped a little sloppy, which did not hinder its cut. The wrapper felt slightly dry, and was solid its entire length with only one small soft spot near the foot.

As for the aroma, it was musty and earthy, like late fall. The foot was sharper, with a clean tobacco aroma with a touch of spice.

After snipping the end with my favorite double-guillotine cutter, the pre-light draw was just a tiny bit tight.  With a slight tingling of my lips, I also picked up a very unique flavor that I was not able to place (until later). Intriguing start.

I lit the Celebraciòn with a cedar strip – just because I always wanted to try that – it took a bit longer to get the cigar lit, but it really helped me get into the moment. Right away, my concerns about any tightness in the draw evaporated as the cigar opened up to a perfect draw. However, the burn became an immediate and an ongoing problem. Even with frequent attention to avoid true tunneling, the burn remained wavy at best.  It went out completely at one point as I was jotting down some review notes, and occasionally created a hotspot on my tongue as I had to work to keep the cigar on keel. All that effort didn’t allow me to build up much of an ash – 1 ½” was the best – but the ash was tight, with dark grey and black bands, and no flaking.

The Celebraciòn’s smoke varied. In the beginning, the smoke very quickly coated my tongue with flavor. And while not producing a significant volume of smoke at first, I really found myself enjoying the clean tobacco aroma it produced.  As I continued, the amount of smoke continued to increase, bringing aromas of cedar … and that unidentifiable flavor again. The second half of the cigar brought still more smoke and more cedar, while the unusual aroma retreated and could only be found in the retrohale.

I’m still  a relatively new cigar smoker, having started in 2005-2006, and I’m still learning the unique flavors and properties of each countries’ tobaccos.  So while some reviewers have described the Joya de Nicaragua Celebraciòn as having a “distinctive Nicaraguan flavor”, I have no idea what that means! For me, I felt this cigar’s flavors and aromas kept changing, forcing me to pay attention. Overall, the Celebraciòn has an earthy yet light flavor profile, with cedar making itself known now and then, especially on the retrohale. I also picked up a very pleasant aroma and flavor of … fall.  You know, the smell of a campfire or leaves burning in the wind, rainstorms, and a background of hay and “barnyard” (without the unpleasantness, thank you very much!).  When I had to relight and retouch my cigar, it would get acrid and unpleasant for a few puffs, and then returned to its intriguing self again.

Remember that unusual, unidentifiable flavor I mentioned earlier? It took me until about a third of the way into the cigar to finally figure out what I was tasting — dried cherries. It wasn’t overpowering, nor even significant, but rather was a hint or a whisper in the background.  It’s not often that you get fruit flavors in a cigar.

Finally, the Joya de Nicaragua Celebraciòn surprised me with its body. I was expecting an overpowering cigar, with strength enough to kick me in the gut. Instead, the Celebraciòn starts out quiet, but not mild, and then grows slowly from a pleasant beginning. Further, I learned that I could control the strength to some degree by the depth and frequency of my puffs, and even more so by how much I brought the smoke into my sinuses – retrohale. That also enhanced the cigar’s spice and pepper, and coated my tongue and palate with flavor that built as the strength built. In the end, the Joya de Nicaragua Celebraciòn was clearly a medium-full to a true full-bodied cigar, that continued to expand even after I had finished, which I belatedly realized after I got up to refresh my drink.

Overall, I found myself enjoying the cigar, most of the time. The occasional acrid flavors and the sometimes significant burn issues I think detracted from the fun of discovering the flavors the Joya de Nicaragua Celebraciòn had to offer. Further, since I am still growing in my knowledge and experience with cigars, a truly full-bodied cigar can be a scary thing (I still have a gifted Cain F cigar sitting in my humidor which I am afraid to try because Sam Leccia himself pointedly told me not to smoke it any time soon). So while I was tentative and cautious when smoking the Joya de Nicaragua Celebraciòn, I found that that gave me the time and ability to find more IN the cigar throughout its forty-five minutes. The strength became less important than exploring the Celebraciòn. It was those moments of solitude and quiet contemplation when I enjoyed this cigar the most – the moments that cigar smoking is really about.

If you enjoy a medium- to full-bodied cigar, then this cigar is for you. If you tend to smoke mild-to-medium-bodied cigars, and if you are also willing to go slow as I did, then I recommend trying at least one to experience what more advanced cigar smokers refer to as a “complex” cigar. I do not believe you will be disappointed! After all, the Joya de Nicaragua Celebraciòn was rated among the best 25 cigars of 2004 by Cigar Aficionado.