Wrapper: San Andres Criollo
Binder: Dominican Olor
Filler: Dominican Piloto Ligero
Size: 5 x 50 Robusto
I want to thank Garland at Atlantic Cigar for supplying me with samples.
This cigar is terrific for Newbies and experienced smokers.
The Vega Fina Fortaleza 2 is the newest from Altadis USA. It is the third release of the Vega Fina brand in 201/2012. It followed the Sumum and the Jose Seijas 2011, which I have reviewed and here are the links. This stick got to strut its stuff at the 2012 IPCPR.
But this is only a new release to the U.S. The stick has been available in Europe for quite a while and with its success there, Altadis decided to bring it State side.
The Vega Fina line is produced at the Tabacalera de Garcia factory in the Dominican Republic.
Construction is very good. Solid as a rock. Some veins and a few large veins. Most seams are tight. The single cap is solid.
The San Andres Criollo as opposed to the plain San Andres wrapper is much lighter in color. It has an almost Ecuadorian look to it with the light brown appearance.
I do the sniff test and detect barnyard, coffee, wood, and some sweetness.
I do a V cut on the behemoth 4 cut slicer and dicer. And light ‘er up. I use my custom made Camacho Zippo with the insert for very accurate burn lines.
The Fortaleza 2 starts off with tobacco sweetness. It is followed by some nicely placed red pepper. Then a citrus component. It reminds me of the VegaFina Sumum. This nice little trifecta of flavors is pleasant. The body is on the shy side of medium to start.
Having already smoked one last night, I can tell you that this is not going to be an over powering full bodied smoke.
The flavor profile has a nice richness that is very satisfying for the new smoker and the experienced one.
The depth of earthiness, richness, flavors, and strength put it into the medium/full bodied category but yet is not so strong as to put off a Newbie.
The char line which started out very sharp is becoming a bit erratic. I’m hoping that I don’t have to correct it.
The first inch passes with a ramping up of the spice. The coffee is most dominant until the creaminess approaches. If it were a Nic cigar, it would be cocoa most probably instead of coffee. But the wonderful wrapper and the Dominican fillers make for an interesting and pleasing blend.
I leave the first third behind me…the sweetness kicks up and I get some buttery caramel. Now we’re cooking. The char line does correct itself.
The citrus notes disappear into the background. It was very much a lemon zest experience. The caramel and the coffee and the creaminess make this a café latte.
This is a great cigar for a newbie but as an experienced cigar smoker, I am enjoying the hell out of the flavors.
The price point of $5 or less depending on quantity purchased is nuts. This could have easily been a more expensive stick and I applaud Altadis for not soaking the consumer with hype and a price according to the cost of the hype.
The ash hasn’t moved since I lit the cigar. And as karma would have it, the moment I finish typing this, the ash falls. When am I going to learn?
The second half is awash in creaminess, coffee, and spice. The body remains a solid medium.
I find this interesting that these cigars have been resting in my humidor for only a week. I fully expected to halt the review for lack of taste and character; instead, I got a serious cigar full of character and depth. Of course, size of cigar has a lot to do with this. I find myself ordering robustos or smaller these days for the benefit of quicker aging in my humidor and for more intense flavors that a smaller ring gauge brings to the table.
You can go out and buy a behemoth sized cigar but you will have to wait a lot longer for the cigar to mature in your humidor. And the flavors might be muted if you smoke it too soon. I smoked the Cain F Lancero from Atlantic Cigar a week after I got them and they were Atlas rockets. The flavor content was intense as well as the strength. The cigar was close to being too spicy. But some decent aging will fix that. And I do not recommend the Cain F to newbies. Your hair will explode into flames from the strength.
Newbies should be looking for a medium spectrum cigar. More importantly, they should be looking for a very full flavored cigar. Strength and flavor are two different components.
The Fortaleza 2 is the perfect example of this. The last third explodes with buttery smooth creaminess alongside the caramel and coffee and tamed spiciness. A perfect morning cigar with your coffee.
The last third is deep and rich and has a fantastic flavor profile right to the end. The stick is extremely well balanced. And it never becomes harsh or bitter as it concludes. It stays cool as a cuke as well. Only in the last inch, does the cigar try to reach full bodied.
I like this cigar so much that after a bowl of cereal, I am going to light up another.
And now for something completely different:
I played in a power blues trio while living in Mesa, AZ. The Todd Hart Band. Todd sang with Savoy Brown…the famed English blues band that goes back to the 1960’s. This man could sing.
His neighbor was a muckity muck with the Hell’s Angels and before long not only were we playing at all their gigs, we became the official HA band of Arizona. Oy. These guys were morons. Really. Most had half their teeth missing and the women were crazy who hung around for the free meth.
I had a CCW license to carry a concealed weapon which I did at the gigs. I was scared stiff of them and always worried they would find out I was a Jew. You just never know.
One gig, the club took over an entire huge bar. During a break, I went outside for a cigar smoke and there were a hundred tricked out bikes sitting in the parking lot.
And there were always half a dozen guys carrying pistols to guard the bikes. There must have been at least 20 Angels hanging outside with me. Of course, looking cool is the ultimate and the gun toters had the Don Johnson shoulder holsters. I watched as they practiced drawing their weapons and they were doing it all wrong.
So l lined them up like duckies and gave them a lesson in how to draw. With a shoulder holster, you run the danger of sweeping your gun as you present it. In other words, you pull your gun and sweep it in an arc until it is in front of you. Well, in a panic, most people start firing before the gun is pointed in the right direction. A California Highway Patrol study showed that officers fired 2.6 rounds before aiming their guns. Therefore, putting innocent civilians in harm’s way.
So I showed them how to pull the gun, immediately drop it barrel down and then in an elliptical motion, raise the gun. This eliminates the sweep.
And then it dawned on me. The HA’s had just recently moved into AZ and were absorbing other outlaw biker clubs. They made their dough in meth. Lots of it.
So it only made sense that there were one or two undercover ATF or DEA agents in the club.
So here was a bass player instructing Hell’s Angels how to draw correctly. Oy vay.
As soon as I realized that, I said I had to go back inside. From that day forward, the club called me Sensei as a joke. And would always ask me tips on proper gun etiquette. What had I done?
Fortunately, I left the band after only 9 months of this crap. The band had been together for over 2 years but this shit was getting on my nerves.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS