In the premium cigar industry, it’s an impressive accomplishment to reach five years in business; it then goes without saying, that 10, 15, 20, 25, and 50-year anniversaries become increasingly monumental celebratory occasions. Cigar brands of the latter tier and beyond have reached the upper echelon—a rank that signals a practically immortal status, where legendary brands such as Partagás, Padrón, Montecristo, Arturo Fuente, and Davidoff become intrinsically tied to the very mention of premium cigars themselves.
This is the league in which Joya de Nicaragua finds themselves today, with 2018 signaling the company’s 50th anniversary. The company, originally founded as “Nicaragua Cigar Co.” by J.F. Bermejo and Simón Camacho, is famously known as the first cigar manufacturer in Nicaragua, debuting on February 29, 1968. And, as any self-respecting premium cigar manufacturer is known to do, JDN did not let the occasion go unnoticed, launching multiple cigar releases, holding special events and giveaways throughout the year, and even publishing their own book, describing the company’s many hardships and resilience over the past five decades.
The crowning achievement throughout 2018’s well-deserved festivities was announced shortly before the 2018 IPCPR trade show, as Joya unveiled Cinco Décadas—JDN’s most premium cigar to date.
Cinco Décadas El General Breakdown
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, S.A. (Nicaragua)
- Production: Small Batch (50,000 cigars for 2018)
- Vitola: 7″ × 50 (El General)
- Price: $18.99 (MSRP)
While details are sparse on tobacco varietals within the overall blend, Joya describes the leaves as being “our oldest, [most] prime, vintage tobaccos from our warehouse.” Only two sizes have been rolled for 2018—Diadema (6″ x 54 figurado | $19.99) and El General (7″ x 50 Churchill | $18.99)—both of which are said to be two of the most popular sizes rolled when the company began in 1968.
The cigars will be rolled in small batches on an ongoing basis, with 5,000 boxes of 10 cigars being made for 2018 (3,000 of which are intended for the U.S. market). In addition, new sizes are slated to be introduced in the Cinco Décadas collection in the coming years.
Cigars in Cinco Décadas’ price range are expected to bring something special to the table in terms of presentation. Joya de Nicaragua has opted for quality enhancements on an overall traditional look/feel. This amounts to a flat, hinged-lid box containing 10 cigars, each slotted in individual compartments, separated by cedar dividers. The box is heavily lacquered, offering an elegant palette of ivory-white, gold, and JDN’s signature red. The box appears to be solid wood, which is instantly noticeable by its heavier-than-anticipated weight. The interior vista is a simplistic wood finish, while the cigars are covered in a sheet of rice paper and a red insert that describes the company’s 50th anniversary.
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The cigar’s bands follow a similar look from the box’s outer appearance, showing cues from Joya’s previous Cuatro Cinco line (which celebrated JDN’s 45th anniversary). At 7″ x 50, El General looks every bit its massive size, allowing the oversized bands to feel in appropriate proportion the the long Churchill vitola. The cigar’s Nicaraguan leaf is darker than most Joya blends, being just a shade lighter than a traditional maduro and showing undertones of orange and maroon. The leaf shows subtle oils when held to the sunlight, and the texture is a bit rougher than expected (like the feel of a brown paper bag). The wrapper shows a myriad of fine and medium-sized veins, as well as visible seams. The cigar feels like a medium to medium-plus bunch when squeezed, with no cracking or soft spots detected.
The wrapper aroma is light, with subtle notes of cedar, musk, and polished leather. There are more interesting nuances on the open foot, showing fermenting tobacco, cedar, and milk chocolate. The pre-light draw brings a little resistance, being just a hair more firm than perfect. This introduces faint notes of mineral, cherries, and a charriness on the finish.
Differing from JDN’s usual blast of pepper to start the festivities, Cinco Décadas El General feels more composed, offering a thick, chalky texture and a deep creaminess. As the flavors assemble, it doesn’t take long to identify exciting combinations of coffee and red pepper, as well as an unusually specific resemblance of cream cheese-stuffed peppers.
The cigar does a fantastic job evolving, especially throughout the first third. Additional flavors of sweet cedar, bread dough, anise, and black tea begin to emerge. There is a great depth to the overall profile, with each puff having the feel of intentionally calculated layers from first draw to a long-lasting finish. Most of the complexities can be found in the retrohale, but the palate is very balanced as well, hitting every region of the taste buds (although a mouthwatering sensation indicates the smoke leans towards the acidic taste receptors).
Cinco Décadas offers fantastic construction throughout, showing a slightly waved burn line that self-corrects if need be. The draw is a bit tighter than anticipated from the pre-light experience—though still being within a manageable range, producing medium bursts of smoke on each puff. Overall, it’s a medium-light strength, medium body, and medium-plus flavor profile in the cigar’s first half.
Once the cigar settles into a comfortable profile, the rest of the experience is not as spontaneous as shown throughout the first half. This is not necessarily a knock on the cigar’s performance, as the flavors have matured, bringing familiar flavors from JDN’s acclaimed, Nicaraguan-focused repertoire. This includes a subtle, cherry-like nuance that often accompanies raw, aged tobacco. There is also a cinnamon-like syrupy sweetness to start each puff, finishing with dark pepper, juicy prunes, a touch of nutmeg and, nearing the cigar’s final moments, a charred flavor that signals the cigar’s conclusion.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
There’s no question—I would smoke this cigar again in a heartbeat. As JDN mentioned when this cigar was first announced, it is intended for celebratory occasions. I found this to be accurate, and I think the cigar deserves a box purchase for this reason (among others). This will allow for the smoker to enjoy the full experience, as well as benefit from the transformation likely to occur with added age.
- Began arriving at retail stores in mid-August 2018.
- Due to an error in the original press release, Cinco Décadas was originally listed as using a Mexican binder; the blend is actually Nicaraguan puro.
- Three cigars were smoked for review.
- Depending on your smoking style, Cinco Décadas El General can burn for nearly three hours.
- Cinco Décadas was released five years after the company’s Cuatro Cinco line (made to celebrate JDN’s 45th anniversary), featuring an overall similar look, including the cigar’s box, band, and inverted “5” in the “CINCO” logo.
- JDN made multiple releases in 2018 to commemorate their anniversary, bringing the Clásico back to the U.S., launching the Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente TAA 2018 (in commemoration of the Tobacconists’ Association of America’s 50th anniversary), introducing the JOYA Silver, and finishing with Cinco Décadas and an accompanying book of the same name.
- Joya de Nicaragua advertises on Cigar Dojo.
- Flavor: Medium-Plus
- Strength: Medium
- Body: Medium
- Bread dough
- Red pepper
- Aged tobacco
- Stone fruit
- Smoke Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Barleywine, Cognac, Zinfandel, Old Cuban cocktail, Flor de Caña 25 Year rum
- Purchase Recommendation: Box Purchase
- Deep complexity from first puff
- Refined Nicaraguan profile
- Long smoking time
- Slightly firm draw
- Second half is not as exciting as first