Some Musings From Manolo

Yesterday Manuel Quesada, known to all in the cigar industry as Manolo, came by the office with his daughter Raquel. They’re in town from Santiago, Dominican Republic, for tonight’s opening gala of the Cigar Rights of America Freedom Tour.

We spent a little time smoking their phenomenal new Fonseca Cubano Viso Fuerte. Forget everything you know about Fonseca cigars. This one is different. It’s high-octane and deliciously rich, with a hint of raisiny sweetness. That extra sweet taste comes from a little bit of Connecticut broadleaf filler that Manolo has in there. Lovely stuff.

Manolo said the new cigar is off to a robust start, but he wasn’t terribly pleased that he was short of supply due to the high demand for the smoke and difficulty of obtaining the wrapper from Nicaragua. (Every silver lining has a cloud somewhere, right?) If you see one of these cigars around, give them a try.

Right before we had lunch, we started talking about aging cigar tobacco, and I remembered an old conversation I had with Manolo in the Dominican Republic many years ago. Back then, I thought aging cigar tobacco simply meant that you left bales of fermented tobacco in a room, alone, unwatched. Not so. Even while the tobacco is aging, it needs work—the bales need to be moved around to balance temperatures, the tobacco needs to be fumigated (every three months, says Manolo) left tobacco beetles have a field day with the precious leaves…you get the idea.

I thought it was worth mentioning here: even a seemingly easy part of making cigars—letting tobacco age—isn’t that simple. It’s just another thing that needs to be done properly to ensure that your cigars taste and perform the way you expect, each and every time.

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