Joseph NicaVana Mezmerize | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6.5 x 54
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $10.00

Today we take a look at the Joseph NicaVana Mezmerize.
Got a 5 pack from Small Batch Cigar for $8.00 per stick with promo code…two months ago.

From Cigar Aficionado:
“Alan Fonseca has started his own company—the Salamanca Cigar Group—and is slowly bringing four new brands into the market.

“Based in Pismo Beach, California, the Salamanca Cigar Group consists of two primary cigar labels: Joseph NicaVana Premium and Glandon Family Premium Cigars. Fonseca has created two blends for each label. The Mesmerize and NicaVana blends fall under the Joseph NicaVana label while Sir Leland and Matthew blends are Glandon Family cigars. Each blend comes in only one size and all retail for $9 each.

“My protocol is to build relationships with retailers and their customer base,” Fonseca said. “We’re doing the West Coast first for the first year or year-and-a-half. Then we’ll focus on the stronger cigar markets.”

“NicaVana (6 1/4 inches by 52 ring gauge) and Mesmerize (6 1/2 by 54) are, according to Fonseca, the stronger of the four blends. Matthew (6 by 54) and Sir Leland (5 1/2 by 52) are not as full bodied. All are rolled in Nicaragua at the Nestor Plasencia factory and all are made with purely Nicaraguan tobacco, save for Mesmerize, which is wrapped in a leaf of dark Mexican San Andrés.

“Fonseca said that the Glandon Family label is a tribute to his wife, Beth’s, ancestry, who is also his business partner in this new venture. While Fonseca cannot use his family name due to trademark conflicts, he is using his family crest on the band.

“I understand that you have to have nice packaging and nice bands for your brand, but I won’t be relying on packaging to sell the cigar,” Fonseca said. “I want people to fall in love with the blend.”
“Fonseca was a founding partner of the Ezra Zion Cigar Company before departing the group in 2013. Salamanca is his first major cigar-related commercial enterprise since.”

A rustic looking stick with big veins and areas that are lumpy and bumpy. Seams are tight. The flawless triple cap is a work of art. The oily stick is the color of hickory/gingerbread/espresso with some nice tooth.
The cigar band and the footer band are over the top in terms of getting your attention. There are a couple of soft spots at the foot and at the halfway point.

From the shaft, I can smell green veggies like celery and bell pepper, black pepper, tangerine zest, barnyard, cedar, caramel, creaminess, a light touch of milk chocolate, raisins and prunes, fried corn, black coffee, and floral notes.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell chocolate covered raisins, black pepper, caramel, vanilla toffee, citrus, cedar, coffee, floral notes, espresso, green veggies, and a lot of malt.

The cold draw presents flavors of dark chocolate nibs, barnyard, cedar, espresso, caramel, creaminess, big black pepper notes, floral notes, and citrus.

I use my PerfecDraw cigar poker all the time. Even when a cigar isn’t completely plugged, I can improve the cigar’s performance by clearing a nice path down its center. In this case, there are some plugs that I ream til the draw is clear as a train tunnel. In the past, I would either have to chuck a cigar as I readied to review it and that review never saw the light of day. Or I used my cigar awls that did a fair job in clearing the lumped tobacco. I’m a shill now but I was a big supporter of this product for a year+ before I earned the right to get a sponsorship for this line of products. It didn’t change my point of view. If you don’t have one, it’s a must. Now I just make a huge pile of dough for merely extolling the virtues of a product I’ve long believed in ($42,750.00 per month sponsorship fee. Dr. Rod is very generous).

This is a big cigar. I normally avoid big honkers like this due to the extended amount of humidor time required to get it to the blender’s intent. But this cigar intrigued me and the price was right.

Out of the chute come flavors of malt, caramel, creaminess, chocolate, nuts, citrus, cedar, and coffee. Very typical of a Nic binder and filler with a Mexican San Andrés Maduro wrapper. It’s hearty and thick with flavor. And my gut tells me it will kick my ass by the last third.

A very slow burner. I may be here for a while. But it’s early and no appointments for the day.
Box pressed cigars have cursed me with the inability to get a decent burn and this cigar is no different as I find myself touching up the char line in the first half inch.

Big flavors roll in along with its first touch of the hem of complexity: Several malts, deep dark chocolate, caramel, vanilla bean (oh the aroma!), marzipan, super creamy with a root beer element that surprises the shit out of me. Back in the day, A&W Root Beer drive in stands were everywhere. Nothing more thirst quenching than getting a real frozen glass full of their root beer with ice slightly freezing the drink.

A charred meat component begins to build. The first half inch was nothing special and it was linear in character.
Strength is medium/full.

Smoking this beast will take over 2 hours. That’s a big investment of your time. But since Fonseca chose only one size for this blend, he must have found something magical about the size v. flavor that, so far, I’m not clearly aware of yet.

Normally, I allow a cigar this size several months of humidor time instead of just two. I merely got a hair up my ass to see what it presents in terms of potential.

The price is fair for a boutique brand. Even better when you have a promo code. $8 for this cigar is going to make me wish I had bought two 5 packs instead of one. But then it would cause me several severe beatings at the hands of my wife for screwing up her primping costs for hair and nails. Thank God the old lady ain’t into Botox injections or I’d be forced to work the streets as a male whore. Charlotte suggested I have all my teeth removed to make me more desirable on the street corner.

Cream is playing “Sunshine of Your Love.” I have the 2005 reunion concert of Cream at the Royal Albert Hall. In 1970, I broke down and moved from a Hofner bass to a Gibson EBO like Jack Bruce played. I tricked it out by adding a couple of Fender P pickups along with a few other tweaks and it was the bass I used on the recording of Curved Air’s 1974 “Live” album.

Bam. Sweet spot 1.0 appears like a light switch being flicked. The balance and character meet at the crossroads and create a strange brew. All good.

The ash is very flaky and doesn’t last long. Plus I see holes down the center of the ash.

Every time I rail against the cost of double digit priced cigars, I fall back on the reasonable pricing from some great boutique blenders. While catalog brands tend to take advantage when they roll out several million sticks of the same new blend; yet still feel the need to rape you with the ridiculous cost of $15+. There are tiny brands that want you to try their wares and the only way that’s possible is to make their product accessible. So at the discounted price of only $8 per stick, once again it’s being proven to me that giant PR campaigns and other fol de rol by the manufacturers is a con job.

All the Nicaraguan flavors of creaminess, chocolate, espresso, caramel, malts, nuts, citrus, cedar, and dried fruit are in play.

With Nicaragua having become most smokers’ preference for the blends they choose, there is a string of similarities that permeate that thread of consistency. So while I’m not experiencing anything earth shattering, I am being allowed to smoke a blend that does it right. I can taste passion and earnestness.

Smoke time is 40 minutes.

The stick is a barn burner filling the room with clouds of white smoke.
The spiciness is somewhat lacking for me. Black pepper comes and goes at its own discretion. I’d like to see some real punch.

The Joseph NicaVana Mezmerize is a solid cigar blend. No flashiness but no ball of confusion either. I can think of dozens of cigars that share this cigar’s flavor profile; almost to the tee. And most are at the same price point. Don Pepin Garcia has a knack with Nicaraguan blends like few others. There is a similarity to the 601 blends as well. But the Joseph NicaVana Mezmerize doesn’t have the power that any fan of Garcia will recognize within the first few minutes. It is missing that recognizable intensity that both brands see as immutable in their blending process.

This is a smooth blend. Balanced. But I want more at this point. I near the halfway point and while I’m enjoying this take on Nicaragua, I find it not to be the master of its own domain. A good cigar lacking surprise and fervent passion. The cigar’s impact is lessening.

The Joseph NicaVana Mezmerize is a mixture of Old School and New Breed styles of blending. I believe this is another example of a blend needing as much humidor time as possible before it reveals its blossoming vagina to just any stranger.

At the halfway point, the cigar is becoming tiresome. It has relinquished the complexity and becomes linear in its approach.
Where’s the beef here?

I hesitated before pushing the “Buy” button on the purchase of this cigar due to its size. I don’t give a shit what Cigar Aficionado says about huge cigars becoming the norm. I prefer smaller cigars for their intensity of flavors and complexity. I can’t think of a single Gordo that has the impact of a robusto or corona larga. Actually, the only brand that pulled it off was by Paul Stulac. Almost all of his blends were big cigars and were fantastic. Unfortunately, Stulac has moved out of the picture and settled into his Canadian home selling his cigars to local B&M’s.

This has felt like a long slog. I’m ready to finish up and move on. But I still have another couple inches to smoke.

Smoke time is one hour 35 minutes.

My fingers are crossed that the last third really shines and changes my opinion of this cigar. If it picks up speed, it is a good indication that the tree trunk of a cigar has real potential with some serious humidor time applied.

The last third is less than impressive. Real bummer. I took a chance on my gut instinct. I rarely buy many cigars. So when I do, I must be very selective. I think I fucked up with this endeavor.

The blend has gone flat. Like having your genitals ground to a fine dust in a microwave oven. Or getting your penis caught in a ripe cantaloupe. I love summer fruit.

Common sense and experience have taught me that if a blend is going to show some life on planet Mars, it is going to happen in the last third. Just the opposite has occurred. Double bummer, Moon Doggies and Kitty Kats.

I found not a single review of this blend. I did find Cigar Babe’s generous gift of this being one of her top 5 blends of 2015.
Anytime you find zero reviews, you should know better. Big brain fart on my part.

The Doors are on the classic rock cable station. Playing a 1969 live recording of “Light My Fire” at Long Beach Arena. I was there.

I’ve given this cigar as much leeway as I could muster.
A slight perkiness appears finally. But too little, too late.
My only recommendation is that should you purchase this blend, you place your cigars in your humidor and forget about them. Maybe the 6 month mark is the right time to light it up.
Final smoke time is 2 hours 10 minutes.


And now for something completely different:

Curved Air’s first tour was with the four out of five original members of the band. I was the only new addition. They were very nice people; at first. They treated me well. That would change. Politics of Dancing.

A PR photo shoot was planned to be at Miles Copeland’s house in St. John’s Wood. A block away, was the famous EMI Studio, also known as Abbey Road Studio. It was the only road in London that the city stopped putting up street signs. They painted the name of the road’s name on block walls in front of houses. Tourists stole the signs about 15 minutes after they were installed.

Stewart Copeland lived in a flat about 3 doors down from the studio. We were really poor. Management only paid us 50£ a week to survive on. But they also paid our rent and expenses. On the road, the pay doubled.

Stew and I hung out together a lot. So we had dinner together all the time. He showed me his poor man’s dinner of cooked spaghetti with melted butter and four Brussel sprouts on it. Actually, it was very tasty. And cheap. That’s right. Only 4 Brussel sprouts. Two per man.

I had only known the band a week when we did the first photo shoot. We hadn’t even rehearsed yet. Darryl, the leader and violinist of the band, picked me up in his little Triumph. A two seater with a bit of a tiny storage area behind the seats.

After picking me up, we headed to Miles’ house. The shoot was a lot of fun because I had never done anything like this before. I was only 24. And my first foray into big time music. Plus it was my chance to meet the band and SONJA!

Getting into his car required a can opener and a shoe horn. When the photo shoot was over, we immediately went to Miles’ bar and helped ourselves. Miles wasn’t around. Miles had one of those 200 year old houses that was lavish and historical.

It was time to leave and Sonja asked for a ride home to Hampton Heath. I allowed her the front seat and I found myself jammed into the back like a small piece of luggage or rat dog. Man, that was uncomfortable.

It began to pour buckets of rain on the way. And it was rush hour. Both of them smoked cigarettes and I have never smoked a cig in my entire life; hand to God.

The windows had to be closed because of the torrential rain. Not even a tiny crack open. Pretty soon, I got car sick. The cigarette smoke and the cramped quarters and the stopping and going really did a number on me. I begged them to open a window but when they tried, the rain came in.

We finally dropped off Sonja. I was sick as a dog and it had taken us a good hour to get her home.
She invited us in and Darryl accepted because he wanted a drink. He was an alchy. Sonja immediately came on to me. I must have been pale as a ghost and ready to blow chunks.

She rubbed herself up and down against me. First time I couldn’t get a boner.
This is the only photo I have of that photo shoot.

I got into the front seat and I told Darryl how car sick I was. He laughed and told me he had the cure. We stopped at a pub. He told me the cure was a snifter of brandy. I had my doubts but I was new to the band and played along. I felt anything that seemed uncooperative on my part could get me fired.

Well, as you can imagine, the brandy only made it worse. We got back in his car where I immediately puked on his floor. We pulled over, in the pouring rain, and he made me clean it up. He was gagging from the smell, and sight, of what I did. I started to get the dry heaves.
All I could think; I wasn’t making a good impression on my boss.

The car’s windshield wipers didn’t work right and Darryl had to keep putting his arm out of the window and use a rag on the glass so he could see. Meanwhile, I used another rag to get rid of the fogged wind screen. (That’s what they call a wind shield in the UK)
We got to a four way stop controlled by Bobbies. Darryl couldn’t see and went right through the stop. A Bobby in the middle of the road stopped us and began to yell.

Darryl explained and the cop let us go. Darryl drove another 30 feet and actually hit a Bobby who was controlling traffic. Darryl was going slow and just knocked him over. All of the cops descended on us and the yelling did not help my stomach. But they let us go with a warning. In America, we would have both been gunned down in the car. Bobbies were pretty even keeled blokes. They had to be. NO guns. Just a night stick.

An hour later, I was finally home…Where I went straight to bed and lay there moaning for hours.

They never let me hear the end of that. For over two years, that story came up every 20 minutes in mixed company.
I have never written about this. Why now? Who knows? I must suffer from PTSD from that incident.

Photo taken at Miles Copeland’s house. L-R Florian Pilkington-Miksa, Francis Monkman, Sonja Kristina, Darryl Way, and me:


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4 replies

  1. It’s too bad this wasn’t a corona. It probably would have gotten a better review. I feel like a larger cigar really has to fight to hold my interest, so when you only release a cigar in a large size, the pressure is that much greater to deliver some bells and whistles. I’ll still probably give it a try, just because I believe in giving the smaller cigar makers a fair shot, and the price is reasonable at my local shop.

    Boy, there are a lot of San Andres/Nic/Nic cigars out there. Some are fantastic, but a lot are pretty average.I had one a couple weeks ago I liked quite a bit. El Borracho. Chocolate bomb.

  2. I completely agree. I can’t believe that the manufacturer made a final decision on such a big cigar. A much smaller size might have seen this blend shine…but too late. It is what it is. And once again, the lack of any reviews of this cigars says volumes.

  3. I agree about the smaller cigars. They are more likely to be flavor bombs and don’t need tons of humi time. I recently found this to be especially true with the Undercrown Maduro. The Toro size was just meh. But they were on sale somewhere, and I decided to give em another shot. But this time I got the Corona Viva. What a difference!

    Give me a Corona or a Robusto over a Churchill or a Gordo any day.

  4. I shall take the one I have, bury it in the bottom of the humi, and forget about it until 2019.

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