Plasencia Alma del Campo | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Size: 6.5 x 58 Gordo

Strength: Medium

Price: $19.00 ($2 less online)

Today we take a look at the Plasencia Alma del Campo.

The stick was gifted to me.

It received a 90 rating from Cigar Aficionado. They said this about the cigar: “This oily looking cigar has a good draw. Woody notes of cedar play off the cigar’s inherent salt-and-pepper qualities. The bready finish hints of sweetness and spice.”

Not exactly a glowing assessment.

I reviewed the Alma Fuerte in 2017 and I eviscerated the cigar’s qualities, or lack thereof. Naturally, Cigar Aficionado rated 3 different sizes from 91-93.

Alma del Campo has been out for a few years. So, why not put my two cents in?

I’ve not smoked this cigar. But it has plenty of humi time.

BACKGROUND:

Released: August 2017

Regular production

According to Halfwheel.com (9-28-2017):

“For decades, the Plasencia family has produced cigars for a large number of different manufacturers out of its factories in Honduras and Nicaragua, including Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, Altadis U.S.A. and Quesada, just to name a few. The company had released a few cigars of their own in the past, but last year Nestor Andrés Plasencia and his father formed a distribution company named Plasencia 1865 specifically to begin selling the company’s own cigars, named after the year that the Plasencia family began growing tobacco in Cuba.

“As part of that process, Plasencia released the first in a planned five-part Alma Series in 2016 named Alma Fuerte, a three vitola line that incorporates a wrapper from Jalapa, a Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos sourced from Condega, Estelí, Jalapa and Ometepe. Not only is it the strongest blend out of the five, it is also the line that carries the highest MSRP, with the three cigars retailing between $20 and $22 each.

“Fast forward to the 2017 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, where Plasencia debuted Alma del Campo, a Nicaraguan puro incorporating tobacco sourced exclusively from the company’s own fields. In addition, as with the Alma Fuerte before it, the cigars are packaged in boxes of 10 that feature lids that double as ashtrays. Alma del Campo is rolled at the Plasencia Cigars S.A. in Nicaragua and started shipping to retailers in August.”

SIZES AND PRICING:

Travesía 6.5 x 54 $17.00

Sendero 6 x 56 $17.00

Madroño 6.5  x 58 $19.00

Guajiro 5.5 x 54 $16.00

Tribu 5 x 52 $15.00

APPEARANCE:

It looks like a cigar to me. It is round and long. With sweet lovin’ goodies stuck inside like a meat tube.

The wrapper is a plain, but oily, brown. You pick the hue…dealer’s choice. Some veins interrupt the flow but nothing devious going down. Seams are tight. The triple cap is in the right place. A simple cigar band with a footer band. And a pearl necklace top band above the main cigar band.

SMELL THE GLOVE:

There are subtle notes of milk chocolate, floral, malt, pretzel, generic sweetness, maybe something fruity, cedar, a touch of espresso, and barnyard.

The cold draw presents flavors of milk chocolate, black pepper, malt, caramel, espresso, licorice, blackberries, cedar, and barnyard.

FIRST THIRD:

OK. The elephant in the room…These cigars are how much? For a Plasencia? For a couple bucks more, you can buy a basket of Casdagli blends.

This cigar better give me a boner this big.

If it doesn’t, and the cigar is ordinary or worse, I will William Wallace its guts.

So, to start things off…I hate cigars this big. Unless I’m at an outing in which I want my cigar to last for 4 hours. On the plus side, it allows the user to do his best imitation of Tony Soprano.

The resistance is true and clear. I expected to need my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool…but I lucked out. No need to go spelunking with my PerfecDraw.

It starts off right at the medium strength point. It has notes of upcoming complexity. Black pepper reigns supreme. But there is a nice creaminess at play that washes some of the intense spiciness down the gutter.

With each early puff, I’m finding that I might truly enjoy this cigar. Of course, I believe this cigar has a year of humi time. Most catalog brands don’t do well with extended humi time. And then some do. It is a roll of the dice.

Very malty and creamy. Spicy pepper lies in the back of my throat. Graham cracker is clearly evident. Some nuttiness in the game.

The balance begins to show off early. The cigar has the character factor. Complexity rises slowly from the morass. It is as smooth as my tush. Transitions are minimal but trying hard to please. The finish is sweet and creamy. Buttery. The chocolate in the aroma column does not appear in the flavor portion. But the maltiness is seriously enticing. It has a very hoppy element that fools me into thinking the cigar was stored in beer barrels.

Hang in there…only 3 hours to go.

The char line is exemplary with not a hint of disorder. Construction, so far, is immaculate.

Only an inch in and I gotta say I like this blend a lot. $19 worth? Maybe, maybe not.

It does have a Hendrik Kelner influence.

I was all set to use my dirtiest comments to rip its carotid out. It may appear I will need to be nice to it. But price does matter. I don’t care what bullshit you hear from cigar aficionados that it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, effect the way you look at a blend. Price fucking matters. Especially, in these times where a lot of cigar smokers are either not able to purchase their love sticks or need to dial way down. Ask them if price matters.

More flavors appear: Oatmeal with cream, brown sugar, butterscotch hard candy, a touch of steak sauce, candied walnuts, beef jerky, and lox and bagels. I added that last flavor because we have it in the house, but I can’t eat it and I want to.

Because of this behemoth log’s size, I must be careful not to meander ceaselessly about shit that doesn’t pertain to the cigar…so,

I keep wondering if I should make my 2001 skydiving accident video public. It is horrific as witnessed by many docs who got whiplash when they saw me go headfirst into the ground at around 30mph. But then it might go viral. I don’t want that. Actually, I haven’t watched it in 10 years…and see no need to watch it again. I know the Cosmic Muffin stepped in and miraculously saved my life…let alone not succumbing to total paralysis.

I’m digging that the strength is an even keeled medium. If this cigar were stronger, and I was experiencing it at this early juncture, my day would be ruined trying to put one foot in front of the other.

The cigar is on a nice smooth journey. It gave away that it is a quality blend early on…but, does not accelerate faster than I can smoke the thing. I expect big things in the second half.

The reviews I read were so so about the blend. But I guarantee, none of them smoked them with enough humidor time. No cigar industry reviewer is going to wait a year before reviewing a new cigar. I’m getting the real deal today. A good augmentation to the 3-year-old reviews of a cigar probably smoked too green.

And you can’t count on Cigar Aficionado to be reliable. Sometimes, I think the bosses just give the review cigars to interns to smoke. The interns write down their impressions. And the bosses come up with an evenly balanced rating commensurate with the cigar company’s advertising intensity.

The ash is hanging tough with an inch to go before the second third.

Just a few years ago, I was playing bass with a local blues band. During our break, I headed to the bathroom to pee. Always used a piece of toilet paper to dab my schlong before putting it back in its hiding place. I’m old and I dribble like every other old man. I get back on stage and during a break between songs, a strange woman approached me and told me I have a piece of toilet paper sticking out of my fly. I look down and sure enough, there is a wienie hanky staring back at me. I turned my back, unzipped, ripped it out, and up came my zipper…and snared some sensitive skin in the process. The scream was heard in the parking lot.

No real change to the blend. It’s cruising. That’s OK. This type of linear I can handle.

I do wish I had the opportunity to review one of the smaller versions of this blend. I’m meandering.

SECOND THIRD:

It took 45 minutes to get through the first third. No stress. No anxiety. Boner only this big. Still at medium strength. And just a very enjoyable blend.

Flavor width expands. The chocolate returns in a couple of forms: Chocolate malted milk balls, very nougaty, and a blackberry/chocolate fondue.

Transitions begin to make an impact. The spiciness has eased up dramatically. This may jinx the outcome, but it is definitely a high premium blend. No fucking around here.

I just checked Cigar Bid and they have one box of 10 going for $100 with 2-1/2 days to go. I will write myself a note to check in as I’d like to see how much the winner paid.

I taste Casdagli all over the lips and gums. Still early on, but I understand the price point now. This ain’t no wonderful $10 stick. The Plasencia has higher goals to meet…and seems to be accomplishing it.

Most Casdagli blends need at least 3-4 months of humi time before they are ready to enjoy. I’ve smoked ones that have a year or more time on them and they are empirically better. Any reviews of this cigar were done prematurely. But I understand.

Most smokers see a $19 cigar and laugh. Unless you are in a cigar lounge…then $19 buys you a Valladeres or a Crowned Heads.

The sweet spot appears to show up early. The complexity makes its move. It wraps itself around my palate like a dog scraping his ass along your carpet. I know in some universe, that makes sense…just maybe not this one.

Ever try to empty that sac of goo from your dog’s ass like the groomers or vets do? And then the goo splatters all over you?

Me neither.

I tasted Milk Bones for a week.

As a starving college student, I remember friends and myself getting together on a Friday night of congenial friendship and lots of smoking da herb. We tried chewing on some Milk Bones. Even high as a kite, they tasted not bad. Tell the truth…at one time or another in your life, you took a bite out of a Milk Bone.

“Rusty Cage” by Johnny Cash. Delightful.

A sip of water and the flavors coat my entire mouth and palate.

No new flavors. It doesn’t need them. The flavor profile has been established. The focus is on the aged tobacco. Generally, Nic puros taste nothing like this blend. AJ has nothing that matches this. But then, I’ve found most AJ blends don’t do well under extended humidor time. Just sayin’.

What a lovely fucking cigar. The tig welded complexity and the medium strength are partners til death.

I’ve got some of the new Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone in the Presidente size: 9 x 48. I will keep my stash of methamphetamines close by when it’s time to review it.

“Done Somebody Wrong” by the Allman Brothers. 1971. Wow. Never played in a club band that didn’t have a set’s worth of their tunes on hand.

The intensity of the blend is off the grid now. Holy crap. Flavors have melded together to form a united front. Every flavor knows its place.

If I were a rich man, I wouldn’t hesitate spending $17-$19 on a box of these cigars.

Sweet spot has arrived in an 8 horse drawn carriage. It is simply magnificent.

Every reviewer I read undervalued this cigar. Again, I understand.

On my lord…this blend is every bit as good as some Casdagli blends.

What a joy it is not to go for the cigar manufacturer’s nuts due to price point and not delivering on its PR promise.

In the late 60’s, I owned an 8 string Hagstrom bass guitar.

The char line is impeccable. The ash has no thoughts of jettisoning itself.

I betcha’ a buck, you can find this cigar on some auction site and can be had for $15…maybe less.

LAST THIRD:

Time has slowed down. But the cigar experience has gone by quickly as I can think of no criticisms. Enjoying a good cigar makes time stop.

I believe I fell into the same trap as others hurrying to review when I smoked the 2017 Alma Fuerte. I smoked it too soon.

You hand these out to your smoking buddies who are doing a herf ride-a-long and you will be BMOC. Blow jobs for everyone. Wait. What?

The last third begins after 90 minutes of smoke time.

The sweet spot is as big as a Montana sky.

I’ve got a boner this big. If you want me to send you a dick pic, email me.

I’ve never said this about a Gordo…it’s going away too soon.

Yes, my diet is going swimmingly. 47lbs and counting. Maybe 15 or so more and I will be happy. Lab tests came back and I’m no longer diabetic and my doc took me off Metformin. What a fucking relief. Of course, my ass is gone, and my cheeks are sunken…but my look is perfect for Halloween.

I checked on an old friend and found he was dead 4 years. It is really hard to make it to 70. You’ll see.

I still think and behave like I’m 30 but entering a room and forgetting why I did is ramping up. And most embarrassing is not finding the right words or name of someone is speeding up. But my labs are spot on.

Speaking of which…for years, my hate trollers that extoll my supposed scam to get sympathy for declaring I had early dementia or Alzheimer’s is tiring. In 2015, that’s what I was diagnosed with. The docs fucked up. I was sick and about to have my first senior health event. I didn’t make this shit up. I found this diagnosis on my provider’s web site:

“Feelin’ Alright” by Joe Cocker. Imagine what Cocker would sound like today. Pretty sure he couldn’t still be doing all the gyrations he was famous for without throwing out his back.

Oh right…the cigar.

Strength has not increased. It gets smoother and smoother with each puff. Some reviewers mention that the last third fell flat for them. Not so. The blender’s plan was to develop a completely balanced blend and let the fancy tobacco do its work.

I don’t need a panoply of flavors…I just need to enjoy every moment. Done deal.

My God, find a way. And let the cigars rest for a year. In their cellos. Remove them a few weeks before you are ready to partake.

If you purchase Casdagli cigars, this too is a must.

I can’t find any info on who actually was the chosen blender. A mystery.

Nicotine finally arrives in small batch fashion. I can still see with both eyes.

The end is near. And not a lick of harshness or bitterness. The spiciness has not ramped up. Fucking smooth as glass.

With an inch to go, I’m sated. A good time to quit as I don’t want the nicotine to make me stupid.

A wonderful cigar.

RATING: 95

Now for something completely different:
Early 1980’s

The first gig Rock n Roll Hall of Fame drummer Hal Blaine got me was a national Chevy ad for TV.

I had been re-teaching myself how to read notes for months. Hal gave me some tips to make it easier.

I was nervous as hell. And damn near shit my pants when I walked into Studio A at Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood.My cousin, Fred Selden, the great reed player, told me many stories about doing session work. He got me lessons with the legendary bassist Carol Kaye to help me get my foot in the door when I was just 18.

Fred told me that when he did his session work, no matter the size of the band, that the tunes were usually a “take” on the first try. These guys were that good. They could sight read and it just came naturally to them.

That’s what I was thinking when I walked in that door. One take? Without ever seeing the music sheets?
I clung to Hal like a puppy. He took a step to the right and so did I.

He had a cartage company set up his drums. So, all he had to do was fine tune the kit and he was ready to go.
An amp rig was waiting for me. So, I spent precious minutes trying to get the sound I like.

While I did that, the band leader came over to me and told me what he wanted. Which was not how I had my settings.

He futzed around with the settings while I played until he got what he wanted. To make things even scarier was that I was playing my beloved Schecter fretless. No room for mistakes on a fretless.

We started.

He stopped and began to tell different players how he wanted their instruments to sound. He got to me too.

Turns out that he wanted how I originally set up the amp settings. More of a big round, growling upright sound.

I should add that not only did they put a mic in front of my amp, but I also went direct through a cable from the amp directly to the mixing board.

I got two pods on the board. That way they could mix both different sounds to their liking.

On the menu for that day was two songs. Both the same but one for a one-minute commercial and one for a 30 second commercial.

Hal looked over at me and his face dropped. “Phil. You are sweating like a pig. Are you all right?”
All I could do was nod yes.

The session lasted about 2-1/2 hours. Several instruments had to punch in any mistakes they made or different notes than what was written.

I played one clam and they had me re-do that single note.

At the end of the session, Hal and several other musicians decided to grab a bite at Cantor’s Deli. I was invited.

The Police was very big at the time and when Hal told them about my background, they spent the entire time asking me questions. Here were monster session players and they wanted to know about me. I was very flattered.

Hal dropped me off back at the studio to get my car. When he drove off, I went over to the adjacent wall and puked my guts up. The nerves finally manifested themselves. Nothing worse than seeing a pile of matzoh balls on the asphalt.

I did a few more gigs with Hal but the later ones conflicted with my recording studio schedule. I was the producer, and we booked a lot of work. My partner was taking the whole load while I was gone. And he was a great engineer but not a good producer.

Hal and I continued our friendship and mentoring. He soon came to work for me when I needed a session drummer for my studio and some projects that requested a good drummer.

My few years being a good friend with Hal are one of the great highlights of my musical career. He passed at 90 in March 2019. One month after his birthday.

Hal getting his kit set up by legendary drummer Stephen Hodges (high school buddy):



Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS

1 reply

  1. Holy mackerel. I don’t care how good a stogie is, I would never pay that much for it. Just can’t afford that… My wife would kill me. Glad you enjoyed, though!

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