The Fonseca cigar brand has been one of Quesada’s longest running brands to date. Back in 1963, Fonseca saw its first release with the original Fonseca (now called Fonseca Classic), a mild Dominican cigar that caught popularity and remains one of the brand’s most successful releases. Following the success of the original Fonseca, Manuel Quesada has added three more lines to the brand over the last 40 years, all of which have been made in the Dominican Republic.

This year, Quesada is back with a long-awaited return of the Fonseca brand, but this time bringing the first ever Nicaraguan puro to the Fonseca family. The Fonseca Nicaragua, as the name suggests, is an all-Nicaraguan blend made by the Plasencia family. The growing regions for this Nicaraguan puro are what we’ve come to expect, hailing from Ometepe, Jalapa, and Estelí.

Fonseca Nicaragua Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Oscuro Criollo ’98 viso (Nicaragua)
  • Binder: Jalapa (Nicaragua)
  • Filler: Jalapa | Ometepe | Estelí (Nicaragua)
  • Factory: Plasencia Cigars, S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Vitola: 5½″ × 54 Robusto
  • Price: $5.79 (MSRP)

The Fonseca Nicaragua was created to be a more budget-friendly smoke, without compromising quality. In a press release, Terence Reilly of Quesada states,
“Because this is the first time we will make a Fonseca cigar outside of the Dominican Republic, we wanted to create a special cigar that everyone can afford to smoke[.] So we approached this project with the concept of creating a $10 – $12 cigar for $4 – $6. The result is a complex, nuanced cigar that we believe will be the best value on the market.”

Look/Feel

To accompany the new blend, Quesada has changed up the look of the newest Fonseca line. As we saw back in 2006 with the Fonseca Exclusivo line, Quesada decides to ditch the current logo and aesthetic of the previous releases for something new. Now, this is an obvious decision, being the first-ever Fonseca from Nicaragua, but also a welcomed one for me personally, as the previous branding feels very dated compared to more modern releases. The new band has Fonseca labeled upfront, nice and big, with a pile of Nicaraguan tobacco leaves underneath. The color scheme and style isn’t great, but a definite improvement to the previous generations.

The Oscuro wrapper looks about as good as you’d expect, although a bit more oil than most Oscuros on the leaf. The roll looks nice, with a few blemishes here and there, and what I am guessing is a (decent looking) single cap (saving money, right?). The tobacco itself feels dry and a little firm, but no crackling when massaged gently through the fingers.

Smoking Experience

The aroma off the wrapper is a subtle tobacco and hay, while the foot adds a little lemon zest. After lighting up, a mild-medium body opens up with a hard draw, bringing low smoke output. The flavors are a bit shy off the bat, with a mediocre rendition of earth, leather, tobacco, and pepper. For now, I will warrant the mild flavors to the tight draw and low smoke, but we’ll see how things heat up down the line.

During the first third, there are not a lot changes; draw is still tight, smoke is still dissatisfying, and flavors are mute. About the only thing appealing construction-wise is the ash, holding on nice and solid for one-two inches at a time.

Quesada Fonseca Nicaragua cigar smoking



The halfway point adds a little more depth to the flavors, establishing a more rounded, medium body. The cigar’s notes haven’t changed much themselves, save for the earth fading away, replaced by a somewhat off-putting, astringent citrus fruit on the finish. The draw is also more manageable now, thanks to a good amount of massaging during the first 30 minutes, but it is still annoyingly tight and definitely hinders the smoke output and thus the flavor.

Beverage Pairing
As is my go-to, I decided to pair the Fonseca with another strange/boutique soda—the Fentimans Ginger Beer. I’ve had several of Fentimans’ stuff, and this one definitely caught my eye (being a ginger ale fanatic). The botanically brewed sodas usually bode well with me and a cigar, but this one did not. The first sip of the ginger beer had me wishing I’d never tried it. The front taste was fine—a ginger, molasses, licorice, and vanilla combination. But when the finish settles in… a burning sensation akin only to apple cider vinegar takes place, leaving me washing it down with bourbon to ease the pain. As you can imagine, pairing with the cigar was even worse. The already mild flavors of the Fonseca were completely washed away by the ginger beer, leaving a quite unpleasant taste in my mouth. Not recommended.

Quesada Fonseca Nicaragua cigar and beverage pairing

At the end, the Fonseca finished up alright. The draw still remains tight, but much better than the start. The flavors had very low complexity and zero transitions, but what was there had a good amount of oomph towards the end. The construction as a whole was lacking, but the ash was its saving grace, holding on long and clean, with no indication of tunneling or early cherry outage.

Would I smoke this again?

Probably not. If I was on a tighter budget, then maybe. If the construction was a little higher quality, than this really would be a great budget cigar. But I feel the only real audience here are new smokers, and bad construction is about the only thing that can turn off a noob.

  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: blonde roast coffee with high acidity
  • Purchase Recommendation: single-sampler

Quesada Fonseca Nicaragua cigar review and rating

Fonseca Nicaragua
Quesada has attempted to do here what many brands have—create the same caliber cigar that they're known for, but make it more accessible. In short, they have succeeded. From the price tags Quesada normally puts out, they manage to cut more than half with the Fonseca Nicaragua. Looking deeper into the romance of the smoke, well, Fonseca is lacking a bit. The flavors are timid all the way through, and the body barely reaches a secure medium by the end. The construction also shows cheaper quality, which is most likely where they are able to cut costs (along with the tobacco quality). In the end, the Fonseca feels like a bit of a miss. It’s a viable option compared to the budget-priced cigars out there, but just shy of making it a clear-cut recommendation. While the performance didn't fit my preference, the affordable price may warrant a purchase—if you're a daily smoker/nicaraguan/maduro nut—who knows, you may find a winning combination here.
Appearance88%
Burn/Construction85%
Draw82%
Flavor89%
Complexity81%
Price/Value100%
Pros
  • Budget friendly
  • Long ash
  • Good burn
Cons
  • Tight draw
  • Low complexity
  • Weak flavors
88%Simple for Cheap
  • JP Loingsigh

    I’m really shocked this even got 88%. I just smoked this and saying it was “bad” doesn’t even come close to telling that story. Save your money and find another stick to burn.