Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vegas de Fonseca
Size: 5.4" x 50 (Sobrino)
Wrapper: African Cameroon
Filler: Nicaragua and Dominican
Price: $3.65 (online), $5.25 (B&M)

Vegas de Fonseca is unique for being aged in palm bark known as tercios. Translated "The Fields of Fonseca", it was introduced in 2004, promptly receiving a '92' rating from Cigar Insider and the #14 spot in Cigar Aficionado's Top 25 Cigars for 2004!

Since then, they seem to have largely fallen off the radar. I guess it's an indication of how fickle the cigar community can be that I'd never even heard of this extension of the Fonseca brand until I discovered a bunch of them hidden at the bottom of my humidor. I know I picked up two as part of a "Fonseca Delectable Dozen" sampler from Cigars International a year ago, but I have no idea how the others got in there. Possibly through some impulse CBid sampler.

I didn't have high expectations for Vegas de Fonseca, given my previous disappointments with the regular Fonseca and the MATASA 30th Anniversary cigar. The cigar features a dark, dry, veiny cameroon wrapper with only a faint prelight aroma. Nothing to promise much excitement.

Of the three I've smoked so far, one was noticeably much drier than the others. This is odd, since they've all been stored under the same conditions, in the same humidor, for the same length of time (11-12 months). The two wetter cigars were medium-bodied. They started with a core of woody, earthy flavors and then progressed into a grassy, almost floral phase. While the taste was fairly typical for this type cigar, the finish was really quite good, with a pepper spice that hits the back of the tongue and resonates in the mouth for a while.

The drier cigar had the same tendencies, but the earthy flavors were more pronounced, pushing into a medium-to-full body; the floral phase was not present; and the spicy finish was stronger and lasted longer. Moral of the story: Much more interesting when aged at a lower RH.

I'd say this cigar is something of a cross between a Hoyo de Monterrey and a Punch Gran Puro -- although not quite as good as either. It lacks the smooth character of the HdM or the out-and-out raw flavor of the Punch. Even at $2.75, which is what I paid with the Delectable Dozen promotion, this is a cigar I would willingly smoke again, but won't go out of my way to purchase.

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