During the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Casa Fernández launched a new brand that is named after both the company’s factory in Esteli, Nicaragua as well as the company’s Nicaraguan growing operation.
Dubbed the AGANORSA Leaf TABSA, the new line is made up exclusively of Nicaraguan tobacco and is available in four different vitolas, all packaged in boxes of 15. Tobacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) is not new, though over the last handful of years its gone through a renaissance thanks to brands like Foundation Cigar Co., Illusione and Warped.
As for the TABSA line, each of the four vitolas are named after various aspects of the Buddhist faith: The Bodhi is a fig tree that Buddha is said to have been sitting under when he attained enlightenment; the Dharam is a label used for one of the Buddhist doctrine; Aficion refers to a hobby and Sunyata refers to the concept of emptiness or voidness.
The AGANORSA Leaf TABSA line debuted in four different vitolas:
- AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Bodhi No. 1 (5 1/4 x 50) — $6.98 (Boxes of 15, $104.50)
- AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Aficion No. 2 (6 1/2 x 48) — $7 (Boxes of 15, $105)
- AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Dharam No. 3 (6 x 52) — $7.20 (Boxes of 15, $108)
- AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Sunyata No. 4 (6 x 60) — $7.60 (Boxes of 15, $114)
- Cigar Reviewed: AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Aficion No. 2
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Toro Extra
- MSRP: $7 (Boxes of 15, $105)
- Release Date: August 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Visually, there is not much unique about the AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Aficion: the wrapper is a dark espresso color with a bit of toot, and the band is fairly unassuming. There are very few veins visible and almost no oil is present, while the cigar is quite spongy when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of slight cedar, earth and manure, while the cold draw brings flavors of barnyard, leather and dark cocoa, along with a small amount of black pepper.
The AGANORSA Leaf TABSA starts off with fairly basic flavors, none of which are dominant compare to the rest: coffee, earth, cedar, hay and tobacco, along with a minor amount of indeterminate sweetness that comes and goes throughout the first third. There is some slight black pepper on the retrohale and a bit of spice on the tongue, but neither are all that strong as of yet. Smoke production off of the foot is about average, while while the draw is nice and firm, the burn has to be touched up a couple of times right out of the gate. The strength is nearly nonexistent so far, and falls far short of the medium mark by the end of the first third.
Unfortunately, the second third of the AGANORSA Leaf TABSA is very similar to the first, albeit with more dominant flavors of both tobacco and earth, interspersed with flavors of coffee, leather, barnyard and hay. The sweetness from the first third is still present on the finish, but is just not strong enough to really place as anything specific. Levels of black pepper on the retrohale remains fairly consistent and the spice that I noticed on my tongue in the first third is long gone by the time I reach the halfway point. Smoke production is still a bit above average, the draw continues to impress and the burn has also evened out nicely. One change that is very obvious is the strength, which has taken a huge leap by the end of the second third, easily ending in the very close to a solid medium.
The familiar trend continues in the final third of the AGANORSA Leaf TABSA: flavors of basic tobacco, earth, hay and leather, with a bit of sweetness that has become just strong enough to remind me of sweet peppermint, ala toothpaste. There is still a nice amount of black pepper on the retrohale and the smoke production as actually increased noticeably. The construction improved as well, with a wonderful draw and a burn that, while still a bit wavy, is not so bad that it needs touching up. The strength has continued to increase slightly, and ends up just a bit above the medium mark by the time I put down the still-cool nub with less than an inch to go.
- TABSA won halfwheel’s Factory of the Year award in 2015 and 2016.
- The ash on each one of the cigars I smoked for the review was extremely flaky, to the point where it became annoying after about the first third.
- Along with the above, while the construction was far from horrible, I did have to touch up each of the samples more than once. Having said that, the draw was excellent across all three cigars that I smoked for the review and simple straight cuts.
- The cigars smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by Casa Fernández, which advertises on halfwheel.
- The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 27 minutes.
While I enjoyed the AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Aficion No. 2 for what it was, I can’t help but lament what could have been when it comes to the profile. The flavors that are present are distinct and nicely integrated, but quite linear, and a little more sweetness would have really helped out the profile quit a bit in terms of complexity and enjoyment. Honestly, I enjoyed the AGANORSA Leaf TABSA Connecticut significantly more and I would recommend that version over this one, especially considering that the prices are similar.