Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo Steve R A few days ago, my December issue of Cigar Aficionado was delivered. Today, I got around to leafing through it. Amongst the ads for countless items I’ll never be able to afford, something caught my eye, inspiring me to write this staff review. Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo received an ‘88’ rating. Wait a minute.... Let’s go back 10 years. An 88-point score would be a dynamite rating. I cry foul. Today’s rating system is seriously skewed – 91s and 92s are now commonplace, and we frequently see ratings as high as 93, 94, and even 95 – usually for the same brands or countries of origin, mind you. These new, bloated scores make an 88 seem so....well, mediocre. So why was I inspired to write this review? Because the JdN Dark Corojo is a good cigar. A damn good cigar, and I disagree with the 88-point score in today’s rating scheme. I’ll explain.... Let’s face it, when it comes to full-bodied, full-flavored cigars, Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 is a frequent mention. This Nicaraguan puro may not be the powerhouse it once was – due to the influx of some seriously full-bodied blends now on the market – but the Antaño cigar brings the brass in a smooth, velvety fashion that almost anybody can enjoy. And, after years of experimenting, blending, and perfecting, the folks at Joya de Nicaragua have released an even fuller variety in the Dark Corojo, and it’s flippin’ good. As one would expect from Joya de Nicaragua, the Dark Corojo is a brute, sitting heavy in the hand and jam-packed big boy tobaccos. The Corojo-seed wrapper is grown in Nicaragua, and has been carefully fermented to achieve a super-dark color and excessively oily sheen. The Nicaraguan long-fillers within contain plenty of ligero aged 3 years prior to rolling and expertly blended, producing a bold yet bready-sweet pre-light aroma that’ll make your mouth water after just one whiff. My 5.5”x54 El Martillo is cut, lit, and already producing a ton of dark, thick smoke. My palate is greeted by a rich and creamy core of dense, deep tobacco flavors. This initially rush of Nicaraguan tobacco goodness is soon met with a toasty blast of wood – an oaky influence that’s like velvet, sitting heavily on the palate and clinging to the taste buds. There’s an underlying spice at play that’s neither moderate nor overwhelming. Just a gentle touch of pepper that teases my taste buds. And then, just as I'm kicking my feet up to savor this slow-burner, the ligero-laced power kicks in, soothing my senses with the possibility of modifying my motor skills. Hang in there Steve. Stick around for the long haul, because I'm in for a treat at the end. While the power doesn’t instensify, the flavors do, becoming more complex toward the nub. Indeed, this cigar has taken yet another turn, becoming richer in character with a hint of roasted coffee mixed in about an inch before risking your fingertips. No doubt satisfying, the Dark Corojo is a powerful, flavorful handmade I'll easily find myself craving again in the near future....after my motor skills are back. Yeah....that’s my take on Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo. 88? Please. Let’s get serious here, folks.