Joya de Nicaragua was the first Central American brand to be produced after the Cuban revolution. The company that originally made the brand was started in 1964, and the Joya de Nicaragua name was trademarked in 1970. The Joyas produced around this time were made in the Cuban style to attract American customers who could no longer purchase the Havanas to which they had become accustomed. They were strong, robust cigars, and soon set the standard for Cuban-style cigars in the U.S.
The Somoza government heavily subsidized the tobacco industry in Nicaragua, seeing an economic opportunity to fill the vacuum left by Castro's revolution and the U.S. embargo. With the help of luminaries such as Nestor Plasencia and Jose Padron, the Cuban style cigar found a foothold in Nicaragua. Alas, the Somozas were dictators as well, and when the government was overthrown by the Sandinistas in 1979 the tobacco industry was emasculated in the name of the proletariat. In 1985 another U.S. embargo was levied, this time on Nicaragua. Tobacco production was geared toward the production of cigarettes for the Eastern European market.
But the Sandinistas met their demise as well, and the cigar industry bounced back. But the Joya de Nicaragua of the mid to late 1990's was not the same. It was a mild shadow of its former self. So in 2002 Tobacos Puros de Nicaragua S.A. developed a cigar that would bring back the memories of the early brand: the Antaño 1970.
The Robusto Grande is a sawed-off 10 gauge of a smoke. Measuring 5 1/2 x 52, it's solid in the hand, firmly rolled with a slight box press, and looks like it means business. The pre-light aroma is earthy and rich. It smells like it has only recently been recovered from some underground vault. It has a firm draw and is a little difficult to light. Once fired up it burns with some reluctance, as if it's daring me to draw on it more frequently than I should. C'mon kid… I dare ya.
Without a doubt this is a heavy bodied cigar. It's rich and flavorful, but somewhat bullish, a little single-minded. It reminds me of a Padron 1926 minus the sophistication and complexity. The primary flavor is rich tobacco, with a woody element, accompanied by a metallic twinge which is typical of some Nicaraguans. This cigar begs to be smoked slowly, but it wouldn't let me without going out or burning unevenly. A salty quality also calls out for a strong beverage. Lagavulin met the challenge.
I like this cigar, but I'll be trying other sizes to see if they have better construction. Once I recover, that is.