While it wasn’t as chaotic as last year, the Casa Fernández et al. booth at the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show still felt chaotic. This year there were two less brands in the booth, leaving Casa Fernández and Warped as the only two tenants to the large space, but I still left feeling confused.
Much of that confusion seemed rather warranted, Casa Fernández launched a few new brands, some of which would be sold via Casa Fernández’s normal sales representatives, while others would not. At least that was the case when I was at the booth, but by the time the show ended, I was told all those new brands would be sold by Casa Fernández’s regular sales force.
What was very clear was that Casa Fernández is making a big push to promote both its AGANORSA and TABSA brands. AGANORSA—Agricola Norteña S.A.—is the tobacco growing operation in Nicaragua owned by Eduardo Fernández-Pujals, the same person who owns both the Casa Fernández brand and the TABSA (Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.) factory in Estelí.
While promoting AGANORSA is nothing, there are other Casa Fernández lines that have previously used the name—the promotion of TABSA is new. TABSA is a somewhat new Nicaraguan factory. I still remember hearing about it for the first time in late 2011, Ernesto Padilla was creating a new bundle cigar for Thompson and he told me that it was being made at a factory in Estelí owned by the same people behind AGANORSA and Casa Fernández. I don’t think I ever had that cigar, but a handful of months later I was smoking the Illusione Singularé 2012, Illusione’s first cigar made at the factory, and was extremely disappointed.
In less than five years TABSA has gone from that brand new factory to an established force, winning halfwheel’s Factory of the Year award last year and finishing second on the factory list from The Consensus.
Now there are two cigars that bear both the AGANORSA and TABSA names: AGANORSA Leaf TABSA and AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Connecticut.
The Connecticut version uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and filler, while the regular version is a Nicaraguan puro.
It’s offered in three sizes:
- AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Connecticut Robusto (5 1/4 x 50) — $7.10 (Boxes of 20, $142)
- AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Connecticut Churchill (7 x 48) — $7.70 (Boxes of 20, $144)
- AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Connecticut Toro (6 x 52) —
- Cigar Reviewed: AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Connecticut Toro
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $7.20 (Boxes of 20, $144)
- Release Date: August 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The Connecticut version uses a cream band, while the regular version uses a black band. I’m not entirely sold on the cream and yellow gold band on the lighter wrapper, though it’s admittedly not the lightest of Connecticut wrappers. There’s a square box-press, not quite like the rectangular box-presses I seem to find on many TABSA-made cigars of late. Aroma off the wrapper is interesting: leather, some Chips Ahoy! chocolate chip cookies and wheat pasta. The foot has similar flavors, though its rearranged a bit with chocolate syrup, a bit less leather and more of a bready flavor. The cold draw tastes like cookie crumble, some peanut butter and faint hints of manure.
While the draw was find on the cold draws, two of the cigars are substantially tighter once they are lit. Flavor-wise, it starts with a relatively sweet chocolate, mild cedar, some spices and pepper all around the lips. If that doesn’t sound like normal Connecticut wrapper flavors, things aren’t changing as the AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Connecticut doesn’t get anymore Connecticut-like. Instead, there’s some leather on the tongue along with breads, creaminess and pumpkin seeds. Through the nose, there’s apple peels, kiwi, chocolate pudding, wet woods and a sharp pepper that increases in intensity in a manner directly related to how fast I smoke. The draw opens slightly after the first five minutes and construction is impeccable.
The back of my mouth is being pummeled by flavors. There’s not a ton on the tongue and the flavor in the mouth isn’t north of medium-plus, but it seems like a barrage of earthy flavors are just building on the back of the throat. Fortunately, the retrohale remains rich and complex: nuttiness, creaminess, cloves, lemongrass and wheat pasta. While the initial flavors aren’t very sweet, the finish has both a cola syrup and milk-soaked Nila wafers. Construction remains excellent with the only potential drawback being that the cigar must be smoked incredibly slow.
There seems to be a maturation of flavors. Not in terms of pure development, rather, things like chocolate pudding and various Nabisco products aren’t present. The retrohale is still home to the majority of the flavors, now a deep oak, lots of olive oil, Himalayan salt, burnt butter and some daffodils. There’s a noticeable reduction in the flavors of the mouth, other than some harshness and spices. Construction remains fantastic and I’m able to smoke the AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Connecticut Toro down well past an inch before the harshness becomes too much, so long as I puff very slowly.
- This isn’t the greatest naming story in cigar history. Not that I don’t like this name, but I think this is the third different name I’ve heard the cigar referred to as.
- If you aren’t retrohaling this cigar, you aren’t going to taste much.
- I also cannot stress the importance of smoking this cigar as slow as possible. Smoking this at anything faster than a puff every 90 seconds delivers some harshness.
- Strength and flavor are both medium-plus, body is medium-full.
- Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Casa Fernández.
- Casa Fernández advertises on halfwheel.
The AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Connecticut is not for a Connecticut cigar smoker. This isn’t the new age Connecticut, rather, this is entirely different progression. There’s very little here that a typical Connecticut cigar smoker will enjoy. The creamy and pepper contrast that is so oftentimes present with the wrapper isn’t here. It’s not mild. And it’s not the easiest cigar to smoke if you smoke at anything other than a slow rate. All that said, this is an excellent cigar, one that think many will be pleasantly surprised by.