Fonseca Habana Selección July 5th, 2006 Steve R 92 Share: Whew! It’s been a while since I’ve written a review on a cigar. Truth be told, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything! I’ve been away on vacation, enjoying the beautiful beaches of the Outer Banks. Warm, sunny days, mas Corona (no Keith, it’s still not a beer in my book) and plenty of R&R. Anyway, it’s good to be back at the office. Especially since a box of Manuel Quesada’s latest creation was awaiting my return: Fonseca Habana Selección. The box itself is a treat for the eye. Sporting the traditional, Cuban artwork of yester-year, the purpose of this blend was to pay homage to Fonseca’s heavily celebrated Cuban heritage. After opening it up and removing the colorful vista, my mouth begins to water as I foster the pleasant aroma, while fixating on the milk-chocolate colored beauties inside. Grown in Nicaragua and cultivated in 1998, the Habana Criollo wrapper is flawless. Silky smooth with attractive veins and a leathery texture. Inside, a Cuban-seed Nicaraguan binder secures a blend of Cuban-seed Dominican ligero and seco leaves, each aged for a minimum of 5 years. To put this cigar to the test, I paired it with a strong double shot of espresso. Ristretto, my favorite flavor from Nespresso’s lineup of pods – if you’ve never seen a Nespresso machine, do a little research, it’ll change your life. Most cigars have a tough time standing up to this hearty espresso roast, but the Habana Selección holds its own and then some. As predicted (based on appearance and feel), the cigar performs beautifully. Slow and cool, each sample opens with a creamy, rich earthiness that methodically builds into a heavier, more robust finish. A toasty sweetness is left behind after each puff, even beyond the midway point, where a slight spice builds behind a pleasant, nutty character. With 2 inches left, I begin to feel full in the belly, as if I am on the last leg of a nice-sized meal. This is saying a lot – those of you that have seen me eat know there’s a 400lb man hiding deep inside of me, trying hard to get out. This satisfying fullness is a wonderful bonus to the well-balanced array of smooth, hearty flavors provided by each sample. Look, Manuel is a stickler for consistency. Maintaining a legendary brand like Fonseca is no easy task, and sales on the Legends MATASA is a clear indication that his expertise is no secret. If you want to truly enjoy the art of one of the industry’s top cigar masters, the Habana Selección is an excellent route to take.