Years back, I had the privilege to travel to Central America with a purchaser of ours in hopes of negotiating deals, working on new blends and overall prove my worth to the company. Why the powers that be here at CI allowed me to do this, I sure as hell don’t know. But what I do know is that it was one of the most memorable experiences in my life.
While I’m sitting down in the conference room at Nestor Plasencia’s Esteli (Nicaragua) factory tasting a variety of different, non-marketed blends, I attempt to put on my big boy pants as I realize I’m no longer sitting at the kiddie table for Thanksgiving dinner. Though serious and insightful on the outside, inside I’m feeling an overwhelming sensation of adoration for one of the greatest cigar-making and tobacco growing families in the history of the cigar industry. In sum, I’m asking myself, “Am I really smoking unreleased cigars with Nestor Jr. AND Sr.?”
The most challenging part of this process is to be honest with them. Obviously, if I smoke 15 different blends, I surely won’t enjoy every one of them. The difficult part is for me, little ol’ Brock from the outskirts of Philly, is having to tell the greatest industry guys (the Plasencia’s) in the world that a particular blend just isn’t that good. But as humble as if they had just started making cigars yesterday, the Plasencia’s were attentive and cared deeply my perceptions of the multiple blends put forth in front of me. For me, this is where I figured out that these guys truly want to know what us Americans are smoking and are deeply concerned as to what cigars will be good for the U.S. cigar market.
Hence, allow my self-righteous introduction segue into a cigar review of the Plasencia Reserva 1898. The Reserva is offered in several different vitolas, however, like in most cases, I choose to smoke the Corona size which is a well-crafted 5.7” X 44 size. Though I’ve never been able to get a gauge as to the quality of a cigar by smelling it, pre-lit this cigar gives off a strong, deep aroma similar to hay that you would find in a barn. Yes…a peculiar description I would presume, but definitely a good indicator of quality, well-aged tobacco.
As I toast the foot of this Nicaraguan gem, a rich tobacco aroma fills the air that is pleasant to the senses. While taking in the first, ever-so-succulent puffs of this expertly crafted handmade, I sense the tasty Corojo wrapper delivers a pertinent flavor of earth and cocoa to the palate. Expecting a full-bodied blast of pepper, I don’t receive that but rather a smooth, medium-bodied flavor which I presume would pair nicely with a well-aged scotch or bourbon.
The first third of the Plasencia Reserva 1898 is magnificent. While smooth, there’s a slight strength in the sinuses which is not overbearing but lets you know you are smoking a well-balanced blend. The key here is the wrapper grown in the remote region of Jalapa (Nicaragua). Though I’m impartial to many tobaccos from Esteli, fine tobaccos from Jalapa normally give me an ample sweetness with even a little bit of nuttiness. And though I’m considered a nut myself, the oily Jalapa-grown wrapper is delivering just what I described.
Encompassed in the Cuban-seed wrapper are filler tobaccos hailing from Nicaragua and Honduras. Though my good man Nestor would never give me all the tricks of the trade, I know that these expertly blended filler tobaccos are aged to perfection, no less than 5 years per tobacco. As the white smoke billows into the air and I reach the middle third of this cigar, a dense flavor of cedar and nuts are quite prevalent. This corona-sized puro is giving me just what I like…complexity.
Upon the finish of this tasty treat, an overwhelming flavor of earth and leather overtake the last third. Damn, this was a good smoke!
Here are my thoughts: If you’re looking for a full-bodied powerhouse, this blend isn’t for you. Furthermore, if you’re a full-bodied kind of person, I highly recommend you take a moment to indulge in cigars that are full-flavored, not full-bodied. A full-flavored cigar can sometimes give you just as much enjoyment as a blend that will make you feel like your half in the bag after smoking it. Don’t get me wrong, I like the strong stuff too. But give your palate a rest at some point and give this multi-country blend a try. You won’t be disappointed.
In conclusion, if you like cigars such as Padron, La Flor Dominicana and Fuente OpusX, don’t let the super-low price tag of this cigar (in comparison to the aforementioned brands) fool you. This blend will give these cigars a run for their money.
Allow me to leave you with this final thought…Nestor Sr. loves Nicaraguan tobacco which is very dominant in this blend. In a conversation, Nestor has said, “We have here great fertilization in the tobacco. Time. Good harvesting of the tobacco at this moment. Good processing in the curing barn. Good processing in the fermentation and the aging. This is the reason why it’s the best right now.” Need I say more? The legend speaks, I listen.
My rating: “90”
Expert thought for the day: Please don’t stick any object through your cigar in hopes that it will open up the draw. If you have a tight draw, find the dense spot in the cigar and try to roll it through your fingers. The reason why there’s a hard spot in your cigar is because the filler tobaccos are a bit corkscrewed. Please understand that this is an industry of truly handmade products and these things happen. With this said, a “cigar poker” or “draw poker” or whatever pointy object you are trying to breach your cigar with will, almost 100% of the time, make it worse. You can play draw poker at a casino.