I can recall during the cigar boom back in the 1990s a lot of brands that jumped on the bandwagon and entered the market only to disappear several months later. I was a store manager in one of our early humidor stores at ABC and it seemed like there was just a revolving door of brands that came in and just as quickly exited. The major brands survived such as Macanudo, Partagas, Punch, etc. along with a handful of smaller brands like Torano and Sancho Panza and Fonseca. All have had varying success over the past 20+ years but unfortunately Fonseca disappeared from our store shelves many years ago due to poor sales. Personally I enjoyed the cigar but it got lost in a sea of Dominican cigars and with its plain brown wooden box and non-descript band it just fell from sight. But it still exists and does have a loyal following to survive this many years and 2016 saw Fonseca arise from years of living in the shadows to come back with a definite degree of excitement!
The Fonseca brand has long been known for producing mild to medium blends in their factory in the Dominican Republic. The brand is part of the Quesada family of cigars known for their Casa Magna line and Oktoberfest line of great cigars among others. In an attempt to revitalize the Fonseca name, Manuel Quesada looked to kick the flavor up a bit and create a cigar around $5 that would taste like it should cost $15. So he turned to one of the biggest names in tobacco, the Plasencia family in Nicaragua, to create that perfect blend. Plasencia used filler tobacco from Ometepe and Esteli and a wrapper from Jalapa to create a Nicaraguan puro that would be known as Fonseca Nicaragua. A lively new band for this new cigar and a bold black cabinet style box for packaging and an exciting new cigar hits the market!
This is not your father’s Fonseca! I enjoy a nice full flavored cigar and this all Nicaraguan cigar looked like just what I might like. It also appears that Cigar Aficionado enjoyed them also as they quickly rated the Toro at 90 points and the Robusto at 88 points! These are outstanding ratings for a brand new offering and I certainly would agree with them.
I found this cigar to be a real winner. With an easy draw with just a minimal amount of resistance and a perfect burn throughout the smoke this was a very enjoyable cigar. This was most definitely a full-bodied smoke with a ton of flavor but not a ton of peppery spices that one usually finds in a Nicaraguan cigar. There was always a bit of pepper lurking in the background but the predominate flavors were rich and earthy with some interesting notes of dark fruit and a bit of charred wood. A very smooth smoke with a bit of complexity and definitely some long and lingering aftertaste. And all this for under six dollars! This has now been added to my humidor as one of my go-to smokes as I found it one of the best smokes in the market without breaking the budget.
While I might not recommend this cigar to a beginning smoker nor would I suggest lighting one up first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee, I would highly recommend it as an evening smoke for those who appreciate a big full-bodied cigar that smokes perfectly!
Steve Mungeer, Category Manager: Premium Cigars & Craft Beer