So, you guys should all be familiar with Jeff by now. He’s our honorary Casas Fumando writer, and he kicked out tons of great reviews. If he keeps this up we are going to force him to join us full time. Until then, enjoy his newest “Guest” review.
Last week I attended a Quesada event at one of my local shops, Stogies n Hops in Lynnwood, WA, where I had the pleasure of meeting Manuel “Manolo” Quesada. Manuel is a terrific guy with a wealth of information about cigars, and a great conversationalist. He even stayed way past the designated end of the event to smoke and socialize. While I was there I picked up a handful of Quesada cigars, including the new Fonseca Nicaragua in the petite corona size. He explained that the goal in making this cigar was to create the best quality Nicaraguan puro possible at an affordable price. I contacted Terence Reilly at Quesada for more info, and he sent me the press release, which states:
“For the first time ever a Fonseca will be made in Nicaragua. This summer at IPCPR the Quesada family will release the Fonseca Nicaragua, a Nicaraguan Puro made by the Plasencia Family in Esteli. Adding to the well-established Dominican Fonseca, the Fonseca Nicaragua is blended with tobaccos from Ometepe, Jalapa, and Esteli to capture the full complexity of flavors found in the country. Nearly equally as impressive as the cigars themselves is the price: MSRP will range from $4.99 to $5.95.
Terence Reilly of Quesada Cigars says: “Because this is the first time we will make a Fonseca outside of the Dominican Republic we wanted it to create a special cigar that everyone can afford to smoke and so we approached this project with the concept of creating a $10-12 cigar for $4-6. The result is a complex, nuanced cigar that we believe will be the best value on the market”.
The Fonseca Nicaragua comes in 3 popular sizes: a 6 x 50 Toro that retails for $5.99, a 51/2 x 54
Robusto at $5.79 and a 5 x 42 Petite Corona at $4.95. They’re boxed in 20’s.”
I have to admit that Fonseca is not a brand that I tend to look for, and the only one I have smoked previously is the CXX 120th Anniversary, which was a limited production line, but the intrigue of a Nicaraguan puro from Fonseca was too much for me to pass on. So what do I think? Well, let’s see…
Size: Petite Corona box pressed 5 x 42
Price: $4.99 ($5.99 here in Washington)
Smoking time: Fifty-five minutes
Pairing: Mortal Kombat X Raiden Imperial Saison (Sound Brewery) ABV 8%
The first thing that stands out about the Fonseca Nicaragua is the band. Designed by a Dominican graffiti artist friend of Hostos Fernandez Quesada, it’s a big departure from the classic look of the core lines, being much more modern, while retaining traditional elements such as tobacco leaves and earth tones in the colors. It also comes off cleanly and easily, and when I told Manolo how much I liked that, he noted how hard it was to convince the workers to make the change to the new glue.
The cigar itself sports a velvety dark brown wrapper with fine veins and a nearly seamless, firm roll, which gets just a bit softer as it nears the foot. The wrapper has a tangy barnyard scent, while earthy tobacco shows off the foot along with a touch of spice. A shallow snip of the cap gives a much snugger draw than I prefer, and a second clip opens it up a tad more. Sweet tobacco shows on the cold draw, but not much else.
Although the draw is still rather stiff, the Fonseca Nicaragua has no problem producing a more than adequate mouthful of smoke. Light earthiness and smoky oak surround the natural tobacco core. While I feel no pepper bite at this point, there is a black pepper flavor hovering in the background. The burn had started out at quite a slant, but by the 1” mark has almost completely evened itself out, with the ash dropping off at that point. The draw has also opened up a bit, bringing a light sweetness and more pepper presence.
The Fonseca Nicaragua enters its middle third with the emergence of some savoriness as it moves north of medium in body. The sweetness has dropped back and the smoky wood turns to a light char, then back again, as the pepper also moves up and then down.
As the Fonseca Nicaragua petite corona winds down, the main flavors have remained consistent while moving up the scale in intensity. The pepper is now much stronger, although not overboard, and the body has climbed into the medium-full range, while the strength is just above medium. Bitter coffee and a little more of the char are evident as the cigar comes to an end. I have not had to even think of touching it up or re-lighting it along the way.
Oops! I forgot that I did have a Fonseca Vintage at the event, so I do have that to go by, as well, and the Nicaragua is a definite step up in the body and strength departments. I can’t view this as a particularly complex stick, but I did enjoy the flavors it had to offer and the way they moved around and ultimately intensified, and the construction was excellent. I love this size, and the box press makes it even more comfortable to hold and smoke. This one smoked pretty quickly, but that may have been influenced by the rather breezy conditions present today. At their price point, I recommend picking up a couple to try. I will certainly be grabbing a few in the other sizes to see if the difference in size brings a corresponding difference in flavor.
Mortal Kombat X is a series of beers brewed by Sound Brewery to commemorate the tenth installment of the Mortal Kombat video game franchise. Since I’m an old guy and never been a gamer, the name really has no significance to me, but the name of the brewery does, as it is local and well regarded. The Raiden is an Imperial Saison which displays a nice citrusy character on an earthy and slightly sweet base, and would be a great match for lighter wrapper cigars, but it matched up quite well with the Fonseca Nicaragua, too. I liked the way the brighter notes of the Raiden offset the darker flavors of the Fonseca, but going the other way with, say, a brown ale or Scotch ale would also work very well. I could also see a sweet rum or spiced rum, as well as a sweetened coffee being great foils for this cigar.