Cuenca y Blanco by Joya de Nicaragua

The Cuenca y Blanco cigar is a new cigar that was launched by Joya de Nicaragua at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show.   The cigar was anticipated for two reasons:  1) It was the first blend by Joya de Nicaragua since Jose Blanco signed on to be the senior vice president of the company; 2) The blend itself marked a radical departure from anything Joya de Nicaragua has done in the past.  With the anticipation level high, the big question would be – how would this cigar perform?  I had a chance to smoke this cigar  The answer is not only is this cigar nothing short of a home run, but this could be a serious contender for top honors when it comes to the 2012 Cigar Coop Cigar of the Year.

The naming of the cigar is for the two principals involved with the cigar, Joya de Nicaragua president, Dr. Alejandra Martinez Cuenca, and Blanco himself.  In a recent conversation I had with Blanco, he explained to me that to put their names on the cigar, that they had a winner on their hands – and something they were very proud of.  Blanco told me they took eight months and about 60 blends to come up with the end result.

The big difference is that this is a true multinational blend – which is very different than the Nicaraguan-based blends that make up most of the Joya de Nicaragua lines.  Blanco told me it all started with a viso tobacco from Esteli that was reserved for a special project.  He fell in love with tobacco, and then started working with other tobaccos to build the blend.

When the cigar was announced prior to IPCPR, Blanco said on his Facebook page, “Have
spent some exciting times creating this blend at JDN, Nicaragua! This
is a cigar all about Flavor flavor flavor, complexity, balance, good
aroma and a long finish. Here you have it!

Let’s break down the Cuenca y Blanco cigar and see what it delivers

Blend Profile

As mentioned this was a true multi-national blend:

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Piloto Cubanao (Dominican Republic – La Canela region)
Filler: Nicaraguan (Ometepe, Esteli); Peruvian

Vitolas Available

The Cuenca y Blanco will initially be available in five sizes:

Lonsdale Club: 6 1/2 x 44
Corona Real: 5 1/2 x 46
Robusto Deluxe: 5 1/4 x 50
Torpedo Especial: 6 1/4 x 52
Toro Supremo: 6 x 54


For this cigar assessment, I sampled the Corona Real vitola.  The Cuenca y Blanco Corona Real has a near mik chocolate-colored wrapper.  The wrapper itself is oily.  It also has some veins and some wrapper seams that are visible.  The aroma from the foot yields a sweet tobacco smell.

The band has a sky blue, red, gold, and pale yellow color scheme.  The name “CUENCA Y BLANCO” is prominently displayed on gold font on a red circular-like background.  The wrapper seams to have a mix of classic and contemporary style – reflecting the profile of the Joya de Nicaragua company itself.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

As I normally do with most cigars, I went with a straight cut into my Cuenca y Blanco Corona Real.  When I commenced with the pre-light draw, I detected light sugar cane notes with a touch of pepper and a touch of chocolate.  The dry draw notes were more subtle than bold, but they did the job – and did it well.  This pre-light draw provided me with a perfect appetizer of the cigar experience to come.

Flavor Profile

Even after his facebook post above, Blanco kept emphasizing “flavor, flavor, flavor”.  There is no doubt, this cigar lives up to the billing Blanco gave it.  This cigar has a complex flavor profile with lots of flavor transitions.

The initial draws to the Cuenca y Blanco yielded a short, quick burst of black pepper.  Once the pepper subsided, I detected a mix of sugar cane sweetness and natural tobacco.   The sugar cane soon morphed into a berry sweetness.  The natural tobacco flavors balanced the berry flavors perfectly.  The pepper notes were in a secondary role, and soon some hints of chocolate joined the pepper in the background.  The pepper could still be prominently detected through the nostrils.

At the start of the second third, a floral flavor emerged as a tertiary note – complementing the other flavor notes very nicely.  As the smoking experience of the Cuenca y Blanco moved through the second third, the chocolate notes emerged joining the berry and natural tobacco notes in the forefront.  By the midway point, the chocolate notes took over as the primary note.  The pepper, berry and natural were secondary notes with the floral notes still tertiary.

Toward the end of the second third, the pepper started to move toward the forefront.  The chocolate notes were still present in the forefront, but were joined by leather and pepper notes.  This was the way the flavor profile would close.   The end of the Cuenca y Blanco had a touch of sourness at the end, but nothing to upset the overall flavor balance.   The resulting nub was ideal as it was cool in temperature and firm to the touch.

Burn and Draw

While Blanco mentioned “flavor, flavor, flavor”, the other side of the coin is the construction of this cigar.  The construction is equally outstanding to the flavor profile of this cigar.  This was reflected in the attributes of burn and draw on each smoke of the Cuenca y Blanco I had.  The burn line was razor sharp from start to finish – requiring minimal touch-ups.  The resulting ash was tight and a nice white color with hints of salt and pepper.  The draw was equally outstanding – making the Cuenca y Blanco a true joy to smoke.

Burn of the Cuenca y Blanco

Strength and Body

From a nicotine profile, the Cuenca y Blanco is not going to overpower you.  It is going to provide just the right amount of strength – making this a medium strength smoke.   As for the flavors, the notes are going to start out medium-bodied in the first half, and will advance to the medium to full-bodied in the second half.  The flavors are effective, but not overpowering.  When looking at strength and body, I would say the body has a slight edge over the nicotine.

Final Thoughts

I said it at the top of this assessment – the Cuenca y Blanco is one outstanding cigar.  As mentioned this cigar is loaded with flavor, but doesn’t overpower you with flavor.  It is the complexity and nuances in this flavor profile that are going to be the differentiator.   Joya de Nicaragua has made some very good cigars, but this might be the finest cigar to come out of this factory.   Both novice and experienced cigar enthusiasts will appreciate the flavors and complexity of this cigar.  As for myself, this is a cigar that is one I would buy and smoke again – and certainly one worthy of a full box purchase.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Medium
Body: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Good
Asssessment: Memorable
Score: 94

Source: The cigars for this assessment were a combination of samples cigars from the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show and cigars purchased at Outland Cigars shortly after the show.  Cigar Coop is appreciative to samples provided but this
plays no role in a final assessment rating and write-up.