Joya de Nicaragua: Dean Jones and a box of Clásicos
Our factory has witnessed lots of great stories, some of them with a happy note, others with a bittersweet taste. However, all of these stories are unique and part of who we are now. Today, we want to share with you a story that involves a box of Clásicos. We assure this tale is one of a kind, tears might be streaming down your face, or a good laugh might be released. In either case, you have to promise one thing, you will let us know what feelings you experience while reading it.
So, let’s begin, get comfy. Perhaps light up your favorite Joya de Nicaragua cigar and picture yourself inside our factory in Estelí…
Our factory’s oldest box of Clásicos
In 2008, Dr. Cuenca was told that a lady in the US wanted to hand back to the factory an old, unopened box of Joya de Nicaragua cigars. A background check on her name revealed she was the wife of Hollywood actor Dean Jones, the darling of Walt Disney family films of the 70s and 80s. His interest piqued, Dr. Cuenca asked staff to find out what exactly was in the lady’s possession – and how much money she wanted.
The reply swiftly came back. “She doesn’t want any money.”
The lady sent pictures of a sealed, unopened box of Clásicos. Given to her husband as a present by Norman Tokar, Director of the movie Snowball Express in 1972. The cigars kept untouched inside Dean Jones’ library.
Dr. Cuenca was delighted the lady wanted cigars to be reunited with their maker. But, he held little hope they would be in any sort of smokeable condition after the passage of so many un-humidified years.
Even so, he made instructions for a $1,000 cheque to be issued to thank her for her efforts in tracking them down and asking her to get Dean Jones to sign a certificate of authenticity as to the provenance of the box. Both were duly collected in Miami later that year.
The cigars are back to the Estelí factory
In 2009, the box was back to the factory and Dr. Cuenca invited Leonel Raudez, the factory General Manager, Mario Pérez, the Sales Director of the factory and Alberto Martínez, long-serving Head of Production to open this box of Clásicos with him.
Leonel was convinced the cigars inside the cellophane wrapping would be ruined after their 38-year sleep. So convinced was he, he wagered $100 on it. Dr. Cuenca took the bet.
Slowly and reverentially, he slipped off the cellophane that wrapped the precious sticks. It was yellow with age and oil.
Do you remember how you felt like a child on Christmas morning, opening your first present, heart leaping in excitement at what might lie inside? This was four grown men in that Estelí factory in 2009.
The clasp on the box was unclipped and, slowly, like the prising open of an ancient sarcophagus, the lid was lifted. A row of Clásico cigars sat there with their Joya de Nicaragua bands proudly stating their heritage. The cigars were not touched by time. Dr. Cuenca picked and lit one at random.
Surprisingly, it burned slowly, sharply, with a rich and delicate taste. He passed it onto Leonel without a word and watched his expression. Leonel’s eyes, upon taking a puff, said all that needed saying.
An emotional meeting
One by one, this team of Joya veterans softly smoked the totemic cigar, subdued in their own thoughts. It continued to burn perfectly, with a clean, white ash. While they were commenting on this, Alberto suddenly turned away, hiding his face. They asked him what was wrong.
He turned back, tears were streaming down his cheeks. “While you were smoking, I went back to the table to look again at the box,” he said. “I discovered a number on the bottom of it and worked it out. Do you remember that back then we had a number assigned to each roller so that we could track who rolled what?” The room agreed. “The number on the box was one given to me 38 years ago. I rolled this cigar in 1971.”
Back to the present…
If you ever visit the Joya de Nicaragua factory in Estelí, ask if you can see the special box of Clásicos. This box is special because it’s the oldest box of Clásicos in the factory.
If you’re really lucky, Dr. Alejandro Cuenca will be in the building – and if you’re really, really lucky, he might have enough time on his hands to tell you the story. In which case, sit back and take note of every word. This is a piece of history, told by a master storyteller.
If you’re lucky enough to hear this story in the Joya de Nicaragua factory in Estelí, you’ll feel a prickle of the history of the place at this point, alongside the humid air and the smell of aging pilones of tobacco. If you’re lucky enough to have Dr. Cuenca tell you the story, his eyes will be shining feverishly now, an amazed smile on his face.
If you’re really, really lucky, he will bring out that box and show it proudly to you, revealing just one gap in the sleeping Clasicos, where one of their brethren made Alberto cry. Also, Dr. Cuenca may well tell you that Leonel still owes him that $100.
Have your say!
Tell us, what do you think about this story? While you were reading, did you ever imagine this would happen? Let us know in the comments below.