While not the most common thing, there have been a number of examples of premium cigar retailers becoming cigar brand owners. In 2022, Jeff Mouttet of Riverside Cigar Shop in Jeffersonville, Ind. joined that group when he launched Fosforo, a line of cigars made at Garmendia Cigars Co.

For the brand’s sophomore release, Mouttet released the Fosforo Connecticut, a 5 3/4 x 46 corona gorda with a blend that uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and fillers from Nicaragua. It’s the first release in the company’s new Fosforo Limitada line, which will contain limited edition releases, and the first size of the Fosforo Connecticut line, which the company plans on making a regular production line later this year.

In the meantime, it is a limited production, with just 2,400 cigars produced. Each cigar has an MSRP of $9.95, while a bundle of 10 is priced at $99.50.

 

“The Fosforo started as another store blends for Riverside,” said Mouttet in a press release. “My original intent was to introduce my clientele to new and upcoming factories in Esteli, where I spend much of my time. With help from Colin Ganley, we found Garmendia Cigars, run by Jose Palacios, and created the first Fosforo blend. Soon afterward, I attended a retailer event at RoMa Craft Tobac and passed out our Fosforos, and surprise, over half the retailers came back to me asking to carry Fosforo!”

  • Cigar Reviewed: Fosforo Connecticut
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Garmendia Cigars Co.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 3/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Vitola: Corona Gorda
  • MSRP: $9.95 (Bundle of 10, $99.50)
  • Release Date: April 2023
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production*
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

*The first round of production is limited to 240 bundles of 10 cigars, or 2,400 total cigars.

The Fosforo Connecticut certainly leans into its color scheme, as the bands coordinate quite well with the lighter-than-medium shade of the wrapper. The leaf is smooth to the touch—not quite glossy or with a lot of sheen—but that lightly-waxed sensation I tend to find with Connecticut-seed leaves. Each of the three cigars are rolled firmly, though, as usual, I don’t want to over-inspect them for fear of damaging the wrappers. Visually they all look very good, with flat seams, an average number of small veins, and cleanly constructed heads. The aroma off the foot is toasty and slightly peppery, offering a bit more intensity than I was expecting. One cigar is notably more fragrant than the others, offering something that reminds me of fir needles. Behind that, there’s a bit of earth, the lingering drops of espresso, and a touch of creaminess on the very end. The cold draw is milder, with a combination of creaminess and grain that remind me of the last spoonfuls of cereal, either Corn Flakes or shredded wheat. The draw on each of the three cigars is pretty close to ideal.

The Fosforo Connecticut starts fairly tamely, with a bit of creaminess that leads to nuttiness and its related oiliness on the palate. There’s some toast and bread crust as well, but not much in the way of pepper thus far. That said, one cigar has more earthiness than the others and, at times, offers some coffeehouse aromas and flavors of the bottom of a bag of coffee beans. The list of flavor sensations doesn’t change much in the first inch or so, but they do steadily intensify, and in the cigars with more pronounced earth and coffee, the intensifying brings about a touch of chocolate. Retrohales have some character but don’t seem to quite align with the profile, and while they don’t inherently add to the experience, they don’t detract from it, contributing a lighter expression of earth, a touch of dry wood and some black pepper. Flavor sits between medium and medium-full, body is medium-plus, and strength is fairly mild. Construction in the first third is very good, with a smooth draw, even burn line and decent smoke production.

The second third holds onto the creaminess but adds a bit of a peanut butter flavor, or more specifically, peanut butter powder used in protein and other shakes. The black pepper feels like it’s trying to make a move up in the profile, and it’s not far into this section of the Fosforo Connecticut that it does just that. Once the burn line crosses the midway point, the intensities of the flavor and retrohale both increase, turning a bit rougher and more robust in the process. It’s also around this point that I realize that the creaminess and peanut butter sensations from earlier have departed the profile. There are also now sporadic combustion issues, with all three cigars going out at one point or another and one of the three cigars really struggling to stay lit, almost fighting the flame off. The flavor picks up a slight bit of rocky earth in the final puffs, which puts the profile right around medium-full, while the body stays around medium-plus and strength is still shy of medium. While the draw, smoke production and burn line are all good, combustion becomes an issue in this section, necessitating several relights across the cigars.

There is some creaminess returning to the profile as the final third gets underway, which is welcomed both for the softening it helps to provide as well as for the complexity it adds to the profile. The earthiness at the base of the profile has diverged a bit, as the texture seems softer but the flavor seems more robust, almost calling back to the coffee flavors from earlier. Retrohales have really come alive with black pepper and now not only match up better with the flavor but also enhance it and provide a lingering tingle in my nose. The roughness on the flavor continues a slow and steady increase throughout the final third, finally peaking just as it’s time to put the cigar into the ashtray, but I do notice it imparting a longer finish than earlier, a change that matches up with what the retrohale is doing. As part of this shift, the background and supporting flavors become harder to pick out, tasting like a muted version of what the cigar has offered thus far. Flavor can nudge up to medium-full, body hangs around medium-plus and strength stays shy of medium. Combustion becomes a more consistent issue in the final third, which is a real shame because the cigar was on an enjoyable trajectory yet simply couldn’t find enough traction to avoid the interruptions of relights.

Final Notes

  • Garmendia Cigars Co. also makes cigars for West Tampa Tobacco Co., among other undisclosed clients.
  • The main band has a tendency to really stick together, seemingly because the adhesive soaks into the paper. This makes it hard not just to remove it cleanly but remove it without damaging the wrapper in the process.
  • The secondary band, however, comes off fairly easily, without causing any damage to the band or the wrapper.
  • I didn’t pick up any real strength from the Fosforo Connecticut.
  • Popseich, Inc. distributes Fosforo.
  • Cigar Hustler, which has the same owners as Popseich, advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours on average.
  • Site sponsors Cigar Hustler and Famous Smoke Shop carry the Fosforo Connecticut.
84 Overall Score

The Fosforo Connecticut seemingly has all the makings of a very good cigar, yet at the same time didn't seem to get everything in the right place in order to allow the cigar to reach its full potential. The first half of the cigar Is very enjoyable, whether it be a bit lighter with peanut butter or a bit heavier and richer with earth and coffee. The second half of the cigar finds itself marred with combustion issues, which are frustrating but, somewhat surprisingly, don't seem to affect flavor all that much. The Fosforo Connecticut is a solid cigar, though one that comes with some combustion issues and a profile that while good, seems so close to being so much more.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.