Being the first and oldest cigar manufacturer in Nicaragua, Joya de Nicaragua has long represented their country on the global stage. In the 1970s, Joya de Nicaragua’s cigars were smoked by world leaders on a regular basis, being the official selection by the White House. And, until recent years, Joya de Nicaragua (JDN) reserved its most refined offering (Número Uno) to be smoked as diplomatic gifts from Nicaraguan ambassadors—not unlike Cuba’s treatment of Cohiba and Trinidad cigars before their respective public launches in the ’80s and ’90s.
Número Uno first made its way into the public in 2018, as JDN tested the waters by showcasing limited amounts of the blend at exclusive Joya events across the country. The brand was finally elevated as a core-line offering from JDN in 2019, joining the company’s former Cuatro Cinco and Cinco Décadas cigars, with the trio collectively making up a series known as Obras Maestras (translating to mean Masterpieces).
Número Uno L’Ambassadeur Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, S.A. (Nicaragua)
- Production: Small Batch
- Vitola: 6⅝” x 44 “L’Ambassadeur”
- Price: $15.00 (MSRP)
Differing from the all-Nicaraguan blending style that Joya has become known for in its 51 years of existence, the Número Uno is topped with a Connecticut Shade wrapper grown in Ecuador. The cigars are rolled in a singular 6⅝” x 44 vitola that has been dubbed “L’Ambassadeur.” Additionally, Joya has assigned only their most seasoned torcedores to craft the cigar, limiting production to 1,500 boxes per year (37,500 cigars) for the global market.
Click images below for full resolution
In terms of packaging, the Número Uno follows the design structure laid out by the former releases in the Obras Maestras series. This includes a thick, gloss-coated box, as well as vibrant, oversized bands that incorporate clever positioning of numbers into the cigar’s name. For the first time in the series, Número Uno displays “Obras Maestras” on the backside of the band.
L’Ambassadeur is an impressive display of cigar craftsmanship from the onset, with a sharp fantail cap being the headlining detail. The wrapper is pale, being not quite as vibrant as the prototypical Connecticut. With a closer look, there are thin to medium-thick veins, well-placed seams, and a silky smooth feel. The cigar is solid from head to toe, feeling like a cross between a lonsdale and lancero.
The wrapper emits faint aromas of cedar and tangy musk, while the foot shows more aromatic characteristics of nutmeg, cinnamon, and oregano. With a cut, the draw is a hair on the firm side, showing loads of cabinet spices, including cinnamon, red pepper, curry, and a distinct chili powder. These components aren’t spicy, per se, but are actually more on the sweet side, being complemented by a touch of maple.
Click images below for full resolution
Número Uno lights up with a thin and nuanced smoke, being primarily sweet, but showing a dialed-back spice and saltiness as well. Brown sugar sweet potato pie is the first flavor that comes to mind. Light cabinet spices crawl through the nostrils, being delicate and closer to sweetness than fiery spice. Throughout the first inch, the profile settles, forming a clearer picture that includes notes of kettle corn, browned butter, salted peanuts, sweet cedar, and lemongrass.
The cigar is mild, as the Connecticut style suggests, yet it is uncharacteristically complex and flavorful, coming across as being more similar to a floral Cuban than a conventional Connecticut. Though the draw is perhaps a tick too firm (while never becoming unmanageable or bothersome), the construction is as solid as the pre-light inspection suggested. The cigar builds a somewhat flakey ash that clings on in inch-and-a-half segments, leaving behind a virtually straight burn line throughout. Moving past the first third, the cigar could be pegged as mild in strength, medium-light in body, and medium to full in flavor.
Warm and gentle spices move the cigar along at a steady pace, picking up an increasing influence of sweet florals in the process. It’s a steady profile that plays to strengths of finesse and an incredibly long-lasting finish, where highlight nuances of Nilla Wafers, sage, and occasional touches of anise can be found. At the forefront are delicate flavors of orange zest, nougat, and sweet cream-buttered toast.
In its final portion, Número Uno L’Ambassadeur veers further into floral territory, with a long-lasting nuttiness being the driving force. All the while, Número Uno stays true to the core profile established from the beginning. Never does the cigar show harsh or unwanted flavors, with final nuances consisting of browned butter, peanut brittle, cedar, and soft cabinet spices.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
That’s an emphatic YES. Joya de Nicaragua’s Número Uno is not only the best cigar in the company’s lineup, it just may be one of the most interesting, complex Connecticut-style cigars on the market.
- The previous cigars in the collection now known as Obras Maestras were named for the milestone they represented (e.g. Cuatro Cinco was released for JDN’s 45th anniversary and Cinco Décadas marked their 50th anniversary). Número Uno was released during Joya’s 51st year and, one way of looking at it is marking year one on the track towards another 50 years.
- Roughly eight Número Uno cigars were smoked prior to this review.
- The cigars are surprisingly long-burning, with many lasting over two hours; one hour and 50 minutes was the average burn time.
- The cigar’s draw is its only real con, with some samples being just a hair too tight and others being noticeably firm. Never did this become a serious enough issue to outweigh the cigar’s impressive smoking profile.
- Número Uno ranked as Cigar Dojo’s No. 1 Cigar of the Year for 2019.
- Flavor: Medium / Full
- Strength: Mild
- Body: Mild / Medium
- Browned butter
- Salted nuts
- Nilla Wafers
- Sweet cream
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Topo Chico mineral water | Light-roast coffee pourover | Hot toddy cocktail
- Purchase Recommendation: Stock UP
- Long-lasting finish
- Layered complexity
- Solid construction
- Slightly firm draw