Welcome to our newest reviewer:
Plasencia Alma de Fuego
Vitola: Toro (box press), 6 x 54
Wrapper: Nicaraguan; sun-grown, Jalapa Valley
Binder: Nicaraguan; Ometepe
Filler: Nicaraguan, half Ometepe
Origin Country - Nicaragua
Average Price: 15+ USD (and worth every penny)
What it compares to: If you like a Padron 1926 or 1964, you’re probably going to appreciate a fuller-body Plasencia like the Alma de Fuego or the Alma de Fuerte.
Plasencia cigars are proof that first-mover advantage isn’t always the winning strategy. Nestor Plasencia Sr., of Cuban descent, has farms and factories that produce over 30 million cigars per year for more than 30 labels. While the Plasencia family had been selling tobacco since the late 1800s, it wasn’t until about 5 years ago that they began producing their own line of cigars. I suspect that a century or more of experience, overcoming political adversity (aka moving all operations and beginning from scratch), and being a backbone of the cigar world led to patience. That patience led to the release of cigars that, in my opinion, truly live up to the category called “premium”.
The Alma de Fuego has a double binder of Ometepe tobacco, as well as half the filler, both aged for seven years. For me, this is enough to know it’s going to be a good smoke. I do love cigars made with Ometepe, so there may be some bias because of my personal predilection.
Visual / Pre-light Draw
One of the reasons I love Plasencia cigars is their consistency, and there was no exception here. The wrapper is so beautifully constructed that not only is it flawless, I can literally follow the lines in the leaf to see it almost in its entirety. It's consistently dark and has a velvety oiliness that gives me even more confidence in the construction.
In the dry draw I taste caramel. There may be notes of toffee and vanilla, but I keep coming back to the caramel before it's been lit.
Dark chocolate is the first taste to stand alone in the first third. After the first few puffs the caramel comes back out, but it's not alone. The retrohale reveals hazelnut - a nice surprise. Cocoa definitely takes center stage; it's bold but balanced, burns perfectly, and delivers flavor in every draw. The Alma de Fuego is strong but begins with some sweetness.
Some of the initial sweetness has faded away, but not the flavor. Cocoa remains dominant, but it seems more like a dry cocoa and the taste overall is smooth… I don’t sense much in the way of pepper or any other strong spice. I still haven’t had to manicure it; it’s a near-perfect burn.
Unlike so many cigars, I don’t get a strong wave of pepper in the final third. The sweetness may be all but gone, but the flavor remains. This is one of the very few cigars I’ll take right down to the nub.
I chose Woodford Reserve’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey for two reasons. First, it’s easily accessible. Plasencia cigars are, in my opinion, still not sufficiently recognized among the premium cigar choices, and I didn’t want an obscure whiskey to interfere with the attention paid to the cigar in the pairing. Furthermore, they do pair very well. The cocoa and caramel notes in the Woodford Reserve evolve nicely alongside the Alma de Fuego. The Woodford Reserve is 45.2% ABV, not so overpowering that the tasting notes are cloaked by a burning aftertaste.