Joya de Nicaragua Antano 1970 Consul
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I owe the Joya de Nicaragua Antano 1970 a debt of gratitude. It was this line that made me understand that pure power is a limited virtue.
Upon the Antano’s release in 2002, I sought only two qualities from a new smoke — stronger and cheaper. Early reviews of the Antano seemed to place it squarely between the Opus X and VSG, the market’s priciest, most coveted powerhouses. It earned impressive accolades, including a 91 mark from Cigar Insider and a 90 from Cigar Aficionado. This Nicaraguan puro may lack the sophistication of the Opus and VSG, I thought, but it should satisfy my lust for a cheap kick in the tastebuds.
And that it did. I bought a box of Belicosos, but each left me with the feeling Hunter S. Thompson once described as having one’s tongue chewed by an iguana. The tingle of spice I usually enjoyed was instead presented as a sting. The complexities of the blend, which I was sure were in there somewhere, were overwhelmed by raw bite. Was I turning soft? Or had my palate finally acknowledged the limits of pure power?
I hadn’t given up, though. I finished my Belis and convinced myself that this smoke simply needed age to smooth out the rough edges. I eventually snagged a box of 4.5″ x 52 Consuls and put them up. My stash has been maturing since spring 2005.
The Consul still looks brutish. Some of the sheen is off the wrappers now, but they’re dark, chunky and appear lumpy. A few squeezes reveal that the bunches are uniform, but the wrapper is thick and sometimes veiny.
It starts with a blast of pepper and cinnamon. There is also a little pencil lead, likely a product of the firm draw. The graphite fades almost immediately as the draw opens up. After a few minutes I pick up a woody undertone that will remain for the duration.
As it warms up, I search for some of the subtleties that can be found in JdN’s superior Celebracion line — caramel, bread dough, vanilla. I find none of the pleasant sweet caramel notes, though there are occasional hints of bread and vanilla beneath the bluster of pepper. There were also fleeting moments on the first third that I thought I picked up some dark cherry.
By halftime, however, all pretense of depth is gone. The spice remains up front, the woody flavor begins to turn charry, and I’m left with a distinct saltiness on the lips. It continues in this fashion until the char turns hostile with about an inch remaining.
Despite significant age, the Antano still has a raw characteristic that borders on tartness. It’s not quite harsh, but it’s unbalanced and monotonous. The culprit is the wrapper. JdN’s Celebracion line, made from an identical filler/binder combination but featuring a lighter criollo wrapper, offers far more balance and complexity.
CONCLUSION: The JdN Antano 1970 Consul isn’t a bad smoke, but it isn’t a very good one either. It’s unapologetically bred for power and it delivers. But beyond the jolt of red spice and wood, there’s is no there there. I find them satisfying after a gluttonous meal, when pure strength suffices. Otherwise, the Consul comes up short. For those seeking comparable strength in a more compelling package, check out the Oliva Angel 100. Or if you like the Antano but wish it were dialed down a notch, don’t bother aging these. Instead, reach for the JdN Celebracion.