Wrapper: Nicaraguan Shade-Grown (Jalapa)
Binder: Nicaraguan (Jalapa, Condega, Esteli’, Ometepe)
Filler: Nicaraguan (Jalapa, Condega, Esteli’, Ometepe)
Size: 6.25 x 60 Sixto II (Hexagon shaped)
Price: $21.00 MSRP (Can be had for a couple bucks less if you look around)
Today we take a look at the Plasencia Alma Fuerte.
I acquired this cigar from a friend…not from Plasencia.
Generacion V Salomon (7 x 58) $22 rated a 93(CA)
Nestor IV (6.25 x 54) $20.00 rated a 91 (CA)
Sixto II (6 x 60) $21.00 rated an 87 (CA)
This is my first go with this cigar. A gift from a friend. I am averse to giant tree trunk sticks but then that’s all this blend comes in. I guess I failed the Cigar Aficionado test proclaiming that all smokers now crave 70-90 ring gauge cigars. I did my time in Quentin…no thanks.
Alma Fuerte translation: “Strong Soul”
Factory: Plasencia Cigars, S.A. Nicaragua
From Cigar Aficionado (October 17, 2016):
“Amidst shaken Martinis, cocktail waitresses and a jazz quintet, the Plasencia Alma Fuerte made its official debut last Thursday night in New York City at the Carnegie Club, one of Manhattan’s more urbane smoking rooms. It’s the first brand to come from the newly formed Plasencia 1865 company, which serves as the Miami-based distribution arm for all Plasencia branded cigars.
“The Plasencia family has been growing tobacco for five generations and is widely regarded throughout the industry as one of the largest producers of premium cigar tobacco in Nicaragua. They are also in control of three major factories and make brands under contract for many major third-party cigar companies. But the Alma Fuerte cigar represents the Plasencia’s first major push to get their own brand (and their own name) into the market.
“All these years we’ve been producing tobacco and cigars, but we were missing the best part,” said Nestor Andrés Plasencia, casually lounging on a tufted leather sofa. “We were missing the end consumer. We had no connection with them. And we didn’t have a major brand with our name on it. Now, we can connect with the retailers and with the smokers. And what better place to start than in New York? You know what they say: If you can make it here…”
“Why a hexagon? “The hexagon is nature’s most perfect shape,” said Plasencia. “Think of the honeycomb. And it burns perfectly.”“Plasencia drew from his family’s vast library of aged tobaccos to come up with the final blend for Alma Fuerte, which is made entirely from Nicaraguan tobacco. The primary component is Criollo ’98, but the Plasencias have planted this seed all over Nicaragua. Alma Fuerte is a blend of tobacco from four growing regions: Estelí, Condega, Jalapa and Ometepe.
“It wasn’t just me who blended it,” assured Plasencia. “It was a group effort of about five people, including my father.”
“He characterizes the cigars—which are enveloped in dark, oily shade-grown wrappers from Jalapa—as being medium to full bodied. Alma Fuerte comes in three sizes: the box-pressed Nestor IV, measuring 6 1/4 inches by 54 ring gauge; Generacion V, a 7 by 58 box-pressed salomon; and the hexagonally pressed Sixto ii, a six-sided cigar at 6 by 60.
“They come in 10-count boxes with an unexpected twist: the lid doubles as an ashtray. Once you remove the top of the box, you can flip it around and the first thing you see is a branded pewter plate surrounded by four deep grooves to hold your cigar.
“But the cigars won’t come cheap. They have suggested retail prices from $20 to $22. Plasencia, however, bristled at the idea that the high cost might come as a result of the elaborate box.
“It’s not the box,” he insists. “It’s the aged tobacco. I know it’s bold to come out with a cigar in this price range, but I think we need to make a bold statement. Our family has been growing tobacco for over 100 years. And we have excellent tobacco in our inventories that we have been selecting and putting aside for a long time.”
“The Plasencia Alma Fuerte is made in Nicaragua at the Plasencia Cigar Factory in Estelí, and is the first in a series of upcoming releases from Plasencia 1865. Four more lines in the Alma series are slated to follow.”
The first thing I notice is the soft press of the “Hexagon” shape. I read that the boxes do not shove the sticks in like Vienna Sausages thereby allowing the cigar to maintain this oddball shape.
Still, I nearly have to imagine the shape as I peer down at the foot with my reading glasses on. I do notice that there are creases in the footer band confirming the 6 sides. But this baby must not maintain its shape when placed in a humidor with your other cigars. Although, based on its ring gauge, I find it hard to believe that smaller cigars could compress the hexagon this much…unless, of course, if nothing but huge cigars rested on top of it.
The wrapper is very oily and the espresso color shimmers and glistens.
Seams are nearly invisible. A normal amount of veinage. Expertly applied triple cap. And lastly, the cigar is evenly packed from cap to foot. No hard or soft spots.
AROMAS AND COLD DRAW POINTS:
From the shaft, I can smell light touches of milk chocolate, pretzel, cedar, cream cheese, and pepper.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell much stronger chocolate, red pepper, cream, pretzel, espresso, cedar, and fruit.
The cold draw presents flavors of cedar, salty pretzel, chocolate, coffee, red pepper, and fruit.
For such a huge stick and packed so tightly, the draw is surprisingly on the money.
Flavors are deeply muted. The spiciness becomes black, instead of red, pepper. There is just the slightest amount of creaminess. Chocolate is a ghostly apparition at the back of my throat. As most Gordo sized cigars, the first inch usually doesn’t count for much. So far, the Plasencia Alma Fuerte is being coy and definitely starting off without much of a bang.
A bit of maltiness appears to help amp up the character of the flavor profile.
This has to be a 2-1/2 hour cigar…maybe more. So, I’m settled in for the long haul. I’ve got music playing while I stare out the window and exhibits a beautiful display of sunny skies for the first time in a week.
Black pepper becomes the leader of the pack.
Strength is quickly making the move from medium to medium/full.
In order to get the ratings that Cigar Aficionado bestowed upon this blend, the Plasencia folks must have handed over cigars with 7-10 months humidor time. While my stick has a few months on it, I’m not sure at this point it is sufficient.
The char line is a bit wavy but not quite ready for panic mode and inner dialog cursing.
I pour myself a cup of black coffee to see if it will jump start the flavor profile.
I check the CA ratings once again to see what they tasted and here it is:
“…cocoa powder, leather and toast. There is a pleasing minerality on the finish…fruit and earth before a finish hinting of cherry.”
This is funny as I read one of the few reviews of this cigar and the writer plagiarized the exact words that CA used.
So here is the deal. CA rated the Plasencia Alma Fuerte not as a flavor bomb but rather a solid cigar in which the blending is all about the overall character of the tobacco and aging.
So I switch gears in my expectations.
The blend begins to warm up after the 1-3/8” burned point.
Smoke time is 40 minutes.
I begin to wonder just how accurate the CA ratings were on this blend. The Figurado got an astounding 93. The Toro got a decent 91. But the lowly Gordo I’m reviewing today only received an 87. That’s a big drop from 93.
There shouldn’t be that much disparity between 3 sizes.
Over 2” and no kick. No pizazz. I’m going to get angry emails and comments if I publish this review. “You always trash a $20 cigar so why bother?” Well, that’s not completely true but close.
At the moment, the Plasencia Alma Fuerte has all the characteristics of a $5 house blend.
I’m amazed as I remember how the Illusione Haut 10 really knocked me out. And here we have a cigar blend that is $4 more than the Haut 10 and doesn’t live on the same planet.
Flavors include a mustiness, malt, fruit, mocha java, cedar, black pepper, and I taste no “minerality.” (Which is not a word).
There are no transitions, no complexity, and a short finish. Even the expected experience of smoking fine tobacco has flown out the window.
A cherry flavor is supposedly associated with this flavor profile. Snake eyes.
I don’t reckon that any reviewer’s method of scoring uses a comparison of dollars to flavor. Unless the second half turns a new leaf, CA was being kind giving the 6 x 60 an 87. But a $21 stick should be required to bitch slap me immediately, not later.
I near the halfway point and…nada. I have been looking forward to reviewing this cigar based on its good reviews. New rule: If I only receive a single cigar for review, then it doesn’t get reviewed. I’ve put the kibosh on several cigars in the last couple months because they were singles given to me by friends and when I sat down to review them…well, the same thing happened as is happening now and I chose not to publish another negative review. It doesn’t make me happy and it certainly annoys most readers.
All I’m getting is a heavy dose of black pepper and assorted faint flavors that are barely making an impact. The special tobacco used in this blend is no longer having an influence on what I think of this cigar.
I think I will publish this review but add one of my “back in the day” music stories.
And I will do another review tomorrow of a different blend. One that I know is good because I’ve had the opportunity to smoke one first giving me a heads up.
Creaminess begins to seep in. The coffee is making a surge. The black pepper begins to taste Cajun. And at last, the taste of cherry appears. A nice mild milk chocolate stands its ground. A gentle sweetness permeates the blend now. And an even coat of maltiness picks up the slack.
Halfway point and I’m 65 minutes into the Plasencia Alma Fuerte.
My haphazard guess that the second half would cause the cigar to perk up comes to fruition. Much better now. Still, if only half the cigar tastes good then the cigar should only cost half as much. Although, I don’t believe this blend deserves a price tag of even $10.
Like a light switch being flipped, the Plasencia Alma Fuerte finally kicks into high gear. No warning…just an instant panorama of character, nuance, subtlety, serious flavor intonations, transitions begin, complexity is on the horizon, and it now has a tasty long finish.
This might be the reason CA gave it only an 87. They felt sorry for this size underperforming compared to the other two sizes.
We now have bold moments of coffee, malt, cherry, cedar, creaminess, chocolate, sweetness, and salty pretzel. Even the inherent flavor of the tobacco begins to shine.
Clearly, this is how I expected the Plasencia Alma Fuerte to begin.
In what seems like an instant, the blend went from being extremely blah to very impressive. Go figure.
I finally get the mineral taste but I don’t like it. For me, mineral is a flavor akin to sucking on a greasy penny.
Strength is boldly full now. Nicotine begins its assault.
Smoke time is one hour 35 minutes.
Assuming CA is correct; I’d bypass the Gordo (Sixto II) and go for the figurado. CA feels that Plasencia botched the 6 x 60. I find myself in agreement.
Construction has been excellent. The burn line has behaved nicely.
New flavors join the minimalist flavor profile: Black licorice, a touch of mint, and some grassiness.
Everything this blend should have been from the start is now in full flourish.
Normally, I’d say not enough humidor time. But the current reviews of this cigar were written 6 months after its release. I should have paid attention to this. I found only 6 reviews of a cigar that was released in October, 2016.
If the Plasencia Alma Fuerte truly needs a minimum of 6 months of humidor time, then it matches form with the rest of Plasencia’s blends. Old School blending techniques.
Hopefully you read all the PR shit in the background portion of this review. It sounds like this should have been masterfully blended. I don’t taste it.
So once again, your Uncle Katman has chosen to review a very expensive cigar only to be disappointed once again. My apologies for wasting your time.
The second half turned out to be quite enjoyable…even though the flavor profile is minimalist in nature. The Haut 10 had me bouncing in my seat from the get go. Not so here.
I must factor in the price of the cigar when rating it.
Clearly, the Plasencia Alma Fuerte is not flying off the shelves…and while in regular production, should disappear within a year. First, the price point is insulting. And second, I feel bamboozled by Plasencia. I don’t care if they used plutonium 235 in the filler; it is not a serial killer blend.
Again, never again will I review a cigar in which I have only one sample.
Final smoke time is 2 hours 10 minutes.
And now for something different:
The editors at Cigar Aficionado have a distinct way of describing flavors like no one else. Here is a sample:
1. The finish is minty and reedy
2. Full of bright floral and linen notes
3. The finish feels powdery on the palate
4. Pencil lead notes with a finish smacking of vermouth
5. A steely finish
6. The draw is open and lush
7. A piquant aftertaste
8. Toasted caramel (Doesn’t caramel melt if heated?)
9. Espresso character buttressed by slight fruitiness and a touch of tar
10. A balanced cigar with considerable charm
11. Touches of cereal and nuts also emerge (Froot Loops?)
12. Oaky underpinnings
13. Hints of wet leather (Yum)
14. Squarely pressed with a bumpy head (Like me)
15. Charry finish that sticks to the palate
And now for something completely different (Part 2):
A song playing in the background, while I write this review, reminded me of this story. “Take the Money and Run” by the Steve Miller Band.
I was living and working in Phoenix during the 1990’s. I got this enormous project to run that was residential. All project managers that do commercial construction know that building some enormous mansion is a royal pain in the ass. This was to be the biggest private residence in Arizona up in the hills north of Scottsdale.
Normal jobs you get to deal with semi-rational folks. Not with a private residence. Especially, when the owner is filthy rich. Changes are made constantly. Special treatment is expected. The owner looks down upon the contractors as mites. And then fights for every dime he has in order to save $20 while conducting a meeting of project managers from the engineer of record, the architect, the general contractor, subs, and vendors. An hour of their time is worth thousands of dollars…all over changing the style of nuts and washers on his mile long worth of guardrail around his houses.
The guy building the house owned a famous boat manufacturer and sold it for a gazillion dollars. He was spending something in the neighborhood of 100 million1997 dollars. The road to the top of the hill, where the main house was to be constructed, cost $20 million and a year to build before work could begin. It had a caretaker’s house at the bottom of that hilltop. It had a housekeeper’s house about halfway up. And his house was the cherry on top of this hill that he purchased. I don’t know how many acres but the land alone cost him around $30 million.
His house was perfectly round. All the rooms on the exterior walls were pie cut shaped. With a huge circle for the living room, kitchen, etc. in the middle.
His garage must have been 150 feet in diameter and still not as big as the foot print of the house…but plenty big enough that you could drive a car into it and exit it facing the right direction to leave the house. Never had to turn around to get out. If you yelled, there was an echo. I believe there was also a sacrificial altar next to the fancy party bar on wheels.
I wish I could remember the guy’s name but I can’t. Give me an old man pass.
I was in the Todd Hart Blues Band (A power trio) at the time and for Christmas Todd bought me a beautiful leather jacket with the band’s logo on it. Todd did vocals for English blues band Savoy Brown in the 1980’s.
At the America West Center in Tempe, AZ. Todd on guitar, drummer Eric “Stumpy” Joe, and me on the far right (with baseball cap) in the background playing my Dobro electric upright bass like a bass guitar (Makes my back hurt looking at this photo):
I had a meeting with the owner, architect, construction manager, and the structural engineer one morning.
The owner saw my jacket and inquired.
He asked me if I knew Steve Miller? I laughed and said no.
He said that Steve was staying at his house in Paradise Valley…an old upscale part of Phoenix. Same place that Alice Cooper lives.
I should add that the owner of the company I worked for was there as well. He was my age. A real prick. Cheated on his wife openly with some buck toothed chick that worked in the office eventually leading to his divorce. There was absolutely no way this chick could conceal her teeth so Brad must have liked his blow jobs rough.
So the owner says that Miller is quite the guitar player. I nodded. He then took out his cell phone and made a call.
He hung up and asked if I wanted to stop by his house and meet Miller when business was done? Before I could answer, Brad the boss, said “YES!”
We meet Miller and he was as gracious as all get out. He actually had set up a little recording studio in one of the large rooms in the house. I was introduced and gave him my background of 15 minutes in the spotlight…(actually 10 years) in the music business.
Then he asked if I wanted to lay down some bass lines or just jam?
I told him that I didn’t have my gear with me. He laughed as he pointed to about 6 different basses in their stands. All were collector’s items and I picked the 1958 Fender Precision. It felt like I had owned it forever.
My boss was impressed with me for the first time. And then a few people, that I was never introduced to, came into the room. One was a drummer.
I was freaking out. I didn’t know any of his songs. Miller graciously suggested we start with a blues changes improv. You know…1-4-5?
We played for an hour on one tune and took it everywhere. Miller and I and the drummer were having such fun that time lost its value.
Miller invited me to stay all day and asked if I could lay down some bass lines on stuff he was working on.
But my prick boss said we had to get back to the office. Brad didn’t play an instrument so I guess he felt left out and jealous.
We all glad handed each other and Brad and I left in his new Corvette. I didn’t say a goddam word to him during the 45 minutes back to the office. I was sulking. The fucker couldn’t have stayed another couple hours so Miller could get to know me?
We get back and Brad goes on about what happened. But forgets to mention how Miller and I bonded and how much he liked my playing. It became all about how Brad and Steve became lifelong friends.
Of course, the truth came out during the day as I was pounded for more info. Brad liked to leave early in the day to go fuck his sweetie…so he wasn’t there to put the kibosh on me holding court.
So all work stopped and I told the story of Miller and I playing together.
I got some serious street cred from that incident in the office. Everyone knew I played but had never bothered to come see me and my band. We played out every weekend in nice clubs.
I never saw Steve Miller again. But a week later, I met with the house owner and he told me how much Miller appreciated me being there because he had recorded the whole jam and it gave him some ideas for new compositions.
“Did he ask how to get hold of me?
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS