August 26, 2012

Cigar Review: Cuenca Y Blanco Corona Real by Joya de Nicaragua

Cuenca Y Blanco
Any cigar smoker will tell you that when you first begin your career as a cigar smoker, because that is what it is, a career; you begin by smoking milder cigars. The cigars are often soft and "one dimensional," but they serve a purpose and are enjoyable. As you progress you begin to smoke more medium bodied cigars which are showing a little more punch and a little more complexity in terms of flavors as well. From there you move onto cigars that are balls to the wall in terms of strength, and a lot of flavor with that. After a while of smoking cigars that are balls to the wall though you begin to realize that this quest you are on is not in search of the strongest cigar, but the most flavorful. I have taken that road, along with many others, and I reached the point of looking for truly flavorful cigars whether they be soft or strong in terms of strength about two years ago. Since then I have smoked cigars that have been truly amazing, and the reason they were was because of the flavor output the cigar produced. This year at the 2012 IPCPR, we experience a cigar release that would fit those parameters, and a cigar that has already gotten tons of attention from the online media crowd.

The cigar I am talking about is the new Cuenca Y Blanco from Joya de Nicaragua. Now all smokers will know that when you see a cigar bearing the name Joya de Nicaragua and you are a milder strength smoker you turn away, but this year the release from the company is nothing like their cigars from the past. Now Joya has released cigars that are milder in some cases then what they are most known for, but this cigar truly takes the lead in that category. The name Cuenca Y Blanco originates from the two men who made this cigar. Alejandro Ernesto Martinez Cuenca has been with Joya since 1994, and he is the reason that the oldest Nicaraguan line is still in existence. I hate to point out the obvious, but his name is the first name in the cigar. The second name belongs to Jose Blanco. As almost everyone knows, Jose Blanco was with La Aurora for years, but came to Joya de Nicaragua in 2011. He was retired at the time, maybe a couple months at best, but just enough time to realize that the cigar industry could not afford to lose a man of his stature. 
Ecuadorian Habano
From the beginning the two worked on creating a cigar that was focused on one thing, and one thing alone. Flavor! The two have been working on this blend since Mr. Blanco came to Joya in September of 2011, and after smoking many I can say it is a great accomplishment. The line consists of five vitolas, and while it has some vitolas that gravitate towards today's cigar smokers, there are some vitolas in the line that are more preferred sizes for Jose Blanco and myself. Cigar smokers in the US prefer large ring gauges, but when you speak to manufacturers a lot of them prefer smaller ring gauges. For this review I am going to be smoking one of the sizes that I picked up, but a size that after messaging with Cigar Coop he felt was the best in show. (Oh yes, we online media folk converse with one another! ...shocking!)  

The Corona Real is a true Corona Gorda, and measures 5.5" with a 46 ring gauge. The cigar is not your standard Joya, and composed of purely Nicaraguan tobacco, but an international cigar. The cigar begins with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, and a gorgeous one at that. Underneath the wrapper is a binder from the Dominican Republic, and is grown in the region of La Canela. Underneath that is a binder compilation of Nicaraguan and Preuvian tobacco, and the Nicaraguan tobacco is from the well known region of Esteli, and the secular region of Ometepe. Ometepe is a volcanic island inside of Nicaragua, and really produces some great tobacco. I am a big fan of the tobacco being used in this cigar, and as the former cigar reviewer Barry Stein of A Cigar Smoker said, "I love Peruvian tobacco!" The cigar has a great cap, and with that has some small tooth present on the wrapper. It has a soft coloring to it, and I would say it is a Natural Colorado coloring. It is slightly milk chocolate in coloring, and possibly lighter than that. There are some nice oils present on the wrapper, and it is veiny with that. The aroma of the cigar is really that of sugarcane molasses, spices, pepper and wood. 
Great Burn!
Lighting up the cigar there is a definite flavor profile that starts from the get go, and it is really all over the place. I start by picking up some molasses and oak notes, and that is slowly accompanied by bits of cream and leather. Towards the end of the first third I then begin to pick up some honey and wheat notes, and this cigar is truly an experience. There is a great burn line with the cigar thus far, razor sharp, and with that I am getting a lovely light gray ash. With all these amazing flavors, the focus is not on the strength of the cigar, and with that, the strength is really close to mild in body. I would say it is between mild and medium, but it is not a matter you think about with this cigar. The whole time you are focused on the flavors that you find yourself not even thinking about the strength. I got a lot of smoke with the cigar in this third, and it was an incredible start.  

I am in the second third of the cigar now and the flavors have changed in so many ways. While I am still getting a good portion of the flavors from the first third in the second third, they are pairing with different flavors changing everything up. Those molasses notes have become predominantly sugar notes, and they are balancing the woody notes quite well. I am still getting a soft leathery finish with that, but there is a nice cream and wheat flavor profile present with that. The cigar is still performing wonderfully, and the ash is holding on well. I am getting that perfect burn line with the cigar, and with that the cigar is producing tons of beautiful smoke. I am still saying that the strength of the cigar is between mild and medium in body, and this would be an incredible morning smoke. This is a great way to start off the day! 

When I get into the final third the cigar takes itself to a whole new level. There is a wonderful finish to the cigar, and I am getting oak notes with a lot of cream. There is also some vanilla present with that, and it is like a dessert. There are still bits of leather present, but it is not a powerful leather, very soft. Along with that I am getting some soft earthy notes that are semi-sweet, but still very natural. The cigar is remaining between mild and medium in body all the way to the end, and it is a cigar you could smoke right after another and not be overwhelmed. The burn line has remained perfect through this third, and with that the great light gray ash. I smoke the cigar all the way down to the nub, and on the last draw it is still so cool and flavorful. 

I loved this cigar, and as I said from the beginning, this cigar was packed with flavor. Jose Blanco and I have been chatting about this cigar along with everything that went into producing it, and I believe they really have a treasured cigar in the Cuenca Y Blanco. With cigar smokers becoming more educated and picky, they will definitely ask questions and read up on this cigar, and with that they will find out that this cigar is incredibly flavorful. While I believe there are some smokers who love strong cigars, I do believe that no smoker can smoke those cigars all the time. This cigar is really a flavor bomb, and with the amazing flavors comes impeccable construction. From beginning to end this cigar had a razor sharp burn line, and with that burn line a nice light gray ash that held on to the cigar firmly. I know this cigar is definitely in potential for Top 25 Cigars of 2012, and I love the direction that Joya  is going with this cigar. I really enjoyed their cigars before this release, but they never made it into my daily rotation. I said from the beginning that Mr. Blanco would be a great addition to this company, and he truly has been as this is example number one. I give this cigar a 93, and I know that this line will become the talked about release in September and the remaining months of 2012.    
Cuenca Y Blanco Corona Real