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Plasencia Alma del Fuego Staff Review

Tom O. O's picture

Tom O.

I’m smoking a recent arrival to the Holt’s warehouse aisles – Plasencia Alma del Fuego – in a 6-by-54 size called the Concepción. Autumn is a great season to spruce up my cigar collection because I’ve usually grown tired of my summer rotation by the time the temperatures cool off. Plus, I’m smoking indoors more and sipping a bourbon in lieu of a bottle of suds from the cooler at the campground. A heartier smoke from Plasencia cigars sounds like the right recipe.

The Plasencia family is a major grower of tobacco in Nicaragua and Honduras where they also operate multiple cigar factories and produce cigars for dozen of brands, including Rocky Patel, Romeo y Julieta, and Alec Bradley. They’ve been building up their eponymous Plasencia brand since 2016, and Alma del Fuego is one of their core releases, along with 1865 Alma Fuerte. The cigars are packaged in crimson boxes of 10 cigars, each dressed in a pair of coral-colored cigar bands at the top with a third band, in white, at the foot, which is closed by the wrapper leaf.

Nicaragua has been a wide-open frontier for tobacco farmers for the past thirty years, and many of today’s foremost cigar-makers, like the Plasencias, who’ve bought land and set up shop there, continue to expand. What sets Alma del Fuego apart from other Nicaraguan cigars, however, is the Ometepe tobacco used in the blend.

Alma del Fuego means “soul of fire” in Spanish, and the cigar’s name is a reference to Ometepe, the large island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua where two volcanoes, Concepción, the active one, and Maderas, the inactive one, have deposited ultra-rich minerals in the island’s dark volcanic soil. The Plasencias don’t grow a lot of tobacco on Ometepe, but the crops they do grow are particularly strong and complex. As a result, they age their Ometepe tobaccos for at least seven years, to mellow them out, before blending them into cigars. Alma del Fuego is finished in a wrapper from Jalapa, while additional Jalapa long-filler tobaccos grown by the Plasencias complete the cigar.

When you open a box of Alma del Fuego, earthy aromas of espresso and damp soil escape. In 2019, the critics in Cigar Aficionado included Alma del Fuego in their annual ‘Top 25’ list, which doesn’t necessarily influence my buying decisions, but my expectations are elevated. The wrapper displays a deep reddish-brown sheen, and every cigar in the box reflects attention to detail.

Once I cut the cap and my lips hit the wrapper, spicy and woody sensations transfer traces of the volcanic landscape, where the tobacco is cultivated, to my palate when I take a couple cold puffs. The back of my throat tingles from the zest Alma del Fuego possesses before it’s lit. Slowly, I roast the foot of the Concepción over a wide match flame, and its potent profile of clove, pepper, and espresso bean comes to life.

Pucker up for a peppery smoke. If you’re unprepared, Alma del Fuego promises to catch you by surprise. Because the foot is encapsulated by the wrapper leaf, the first puffs are particularly potent. Concepción is a chunky Toro, so its ring gauge counters the overall intensity of the smoke by providing a cooler draw. The initial bitterness settles into a toasty profile of coffee bean and woody notes with hints of sweet and dark flavor. As the cigar develops, straightforward notes of earth, coffee, and cocoa bean take command.

Alma del Fuego hosts a good amount of nicotine, so don’t smoke it too fast. It’s a good cigar to smoke if you’re reading a book and you’ve got plenty of time to spare. As the cigar progresses, its peppery taste takes over throughout the middle obscuring delicate nuances of cocoa, cedar, and nuts. After fifty minutes, Alma del Fuego rebounds with more balance though. Notes of oak and dark chocolate make their way into a spicy and smooth finale.

Now that it’s time to flip the hood of my sweatshirt over my noggin, I’m content firing up an Alma del Fuego from Plasencia this season for its smoky, campfire aroma and robust aftertaste. If you’re sitting before a roaring fire with snifter of brandy, add Alma del Fuego to your humidor, but I recommend letting this cigar rest for a few weeks to take the edge off if you’re not accustomed to a stronger smoke, and get your credit card out – at just under seventeen bucks per cigar, it’s a bit pricey.


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