Joya de Nicaragua – Cuenca y Blanco
Yeah, so the labor day weekend threw me off a bit. I hope you all had a safe, and wonderful one, I know I sure did! Part of that holiday weekend included firing up Joya de Nicaragua’s newest offering, the Cuenca y Blanco. Was it the gem of the holiday, or did it put a damper on my weekend plans? Let’s find out!
The Good Stuff: Jose Blanco has been one of the biggest supporter of new media, and social media since day one. He’s been our cheerleader, and a great friend. We all got a little worried when he announced a while back that he would be leaving his postion at La Aurora, but he fell right into place as the Senior Vice President over at Joya De Nicaragua. I like Jose, and I love Joya de Nicaragua, so naturally I was excited about the move. I got to spend some time at the Joya de Nicaragua factory with both Jose Blanco and Alejandro Cuenca and I must say, they run an awesomely stand-up operation. We’ve all been on pins and needles awaiting the first Joya de Nicaragua’s blend with Jose’s touch, and the time has finally come. This year Joya de Nicaragua released the Cuenca y Blanco, a Mild/Medium cigar with a ton of flavor. The Cuenca y Blanco starts out with a Ecuadorian Habano wrapper tossed around Dominican Republic – La Canela Region Piloto Cubano binder, and then filled with Peruvian and Nicaraguan tobacco from the Ometepe and Esteli regions. The cigar will come in 5 sizes: Lonsdale Club (6.5 x 44), Corona Real (5.5 x 46), Robusto Deluxe (5.25 x 50), Torpedo Especial (6.25 x 52), and the Toro Supremo (6 x 54). They come in boxes of 21 and run around $7.25 – $10.50 a stick. As I patiently wait my local shops to accuire their shipments I was able to set up a trade with a great BOTL “Donny Payne” to get my hands on these. Big thanks goes out to Donny!
Size: 5.25 x 50
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Piloto Cubano
Pairing: Schneider & Brooklyner Hopfen Weisse
Prelight: The Cuenca y Blanco starts out with a beautiful wrapper and a near perfect construction. Yes, another cigar with great construction. This seems to be the trend lately, and one that we as cigar smokers can really embrace. The wrapper is a deep, dark brown with some lighter orange and brown webbing. There are quite a few smaller veins running through the body of the cigar, but nothing that should interfere with the overall experience. The wrapper is very hard, and thick and just screams of oil. The Cuenca y Blanco is polished off with a beautiful, round, triple cap. One thing I love about this cigar visually is the band. It’s beautiful. It’s basic with an elegant “Cuenca y Blanco” crest in gold and red surrounded with more light blue, red, and gold accents.
The wrapper on the Cuenca y Blanco doesn’t give off much but a very moderate spice, and cedar aroma while the foot of the cigar boasts of pepper, sweetness, spice, and tobacco. The cap cut very easily and clean using my double bladed Palio cutter. Wow, even in the cold draw this cigar kicks out a ton of flavor. Cashew, spice, sweet tobacco, sugar, cedar, all mixed in around some black pepper. I can’t wait to fire this baby up.
First Smoke: The Cuenca y Blanco starts off with a bang. Seriously, this cigar packs some crazy flavor. Trying to break it down is actually a bit difficult, but what I can pull out is some really organic earthy, grassy tones, lots of cedar, spice (nutmeg, cinnamon), some black pepper, what tastes like spearmint, and even a bit of honey and vanilla. Jose states over and over that this cigar is packed with flavor and I can’t stress just how right he is. The draw on the few that I smoked is slightly tight, but nothing that will get in the way of the experience. In fact, after a puff or two the Cuenca y Blanco fills my mouth with this extremely thick, lingering, white smoke. This is probably the slowest moving, thickest smoke I have seen from a cigar in a long while. The cigar gives off almost no stationary smoke as it sits in my ashtray. The burnline is beautifully even and razor sharp leaving behind an amazing looking bright white, tightly compacted ash.
Halfway There: Man, the Cuenca y Blanco is no joke in the flavor department. This cigar is still firing on all cyclinders kicking out a creamy cedar and sweet tobacco, brown sugar, honey, black pepper, some coffee notes now, lots of organic earth flavors, and still a neat little spearmint aftertaste with lots of pleasant spice. I’m surprised the pepper is still rockin’ in there. Despite being a flavor bomb, this cigar is crazy smooth, and creamy in character. The retrohale was a lot sharper than I had expected coating my nasal passage with a strong cedar, lots of spice, and lots of pepper. While the burnline is still dead-on I am feeling absolutely no nicotine kick as I finish the second third of this Cuenca y Blanco.
Finish: The black pepper in this Cuenca y Blanco has mellowed out a bit, but is still there. Remarkable. The flavors have finally started to subdue slightly. When that happened the honey, coffee, and cedar took center stage to the creamy, earthy, spice-filled profile. Along with the smoothing out of the experience, the strength of the cigar has ramped up slightly, but still nothing more than medium. All in all the cigar took almost 2 hours to smoke, that’s right, 2 hours. The cigar burned extremely slow and had no harshness at all into the final inch.
Overview: A few months ago I got to spend a few days with the crew over at Joya De Nicaragua. This included both Jose Blanco and Alejandro Cuenca. When asked about this new blend all Jose could say was “it’s great, mild, and just a nice cigar with a whole ton of flavor”. I don’t think I can explain it better than that. The Cuenca y Blanco is the epitome of a mild/medium cigar with just a ton of flavor. Despite being a flavor bomb the Cuenca y Blanco finishes off extremely smooth and well balanced. Factor in the length of smoke, modest price tag, perfect construction, and supburb experience and it’s easy to say they have another home run on their hands. This cigar is by far VERY boxworthy. The complex, deep flavors are perfect for the seasoned cigar smoker while the price, mild stature, and smoothness is ideal for the novice smoker looking to dip their feet into the premium market.
Pairing: Springing for another great German brew, this Cuenca y Blanco was paired up with Schneider & Brooklyner’s Hopfen Weisse Ale. In case you aren’t family with the name, this is actually a collaboration between the German Brewery Schneider & Sohn and USA’s own Brooklyn Brewery. Strange, I know, but I have always been a fan of both and the product the two have came out with is phenomenal. This 8.2% weizenbock style beer is brewed at the Weisses Bräuhaus G. Schneider & Sohn is Germany. This is the Schneider & Sohn version of the brew (I’m not a big fan of the vice versa) using Brooklyn’s ingredients. The ale is very heavy, and yeasty starting off with lots of citrus, orange and lemon flavors while it finishes off with a very wheaty, bitter yet smooth group of flavors. Another great summer beer and it went absolutely great with the Cuenca y Blanco. Because the Cuenca y Blanco is packed with so much flavor, it’s the perfect cigar to pair with your more flavorful/powerful brews.