VegaFina Nicaragua Robusto

At Inter Tabac 2014 in Dortmund Germany, Altadis showcased a new cigar as a part of its VegaFina brand called VegaFina Nicaragua.  The cigar was shortly released to the European market afterwards and now has made its way to the U.S. market.  There is no surprise by this roll-out as VegaFina has been a brand traditionally popular in Europe.  The VegaFina Nicaragua becomes the latest Nicaraguan puro to be added the Altadis portfolio.  Over the past 18 months, Altadis has released Nicaraguan puros in the Juan Lopez brand (Juan Lopez), Romeo y Julieta (RyJ), and Montecristo (Montecristo Espada).  Recently I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the VegaFina Nicaragua in the Robusto format.  Overall I found the VegaFina Nicaragua to be an enjoyable smoke.

Over the past three years, Altadis has invested in the VegaFina brand.  This has seen such releases as: VegaFina Jose Seijas 2011VegaFina Master 2012VegaFina Fortaleza 2VegaFina Sumum Edición Especial 2010VegaFina Edición Especial Sumum 2012, and VegaFina Sumum 2013.  The VegaFina Nicaragua is intended to be a regular production offering (the Fortleza 2 and to a lesser extent Sumum 2010 are regular offerings while the rest have been limiteds) For the most part VegaFina has been a brand that caters to a mild to medium profile when it comes to cigars.  In terms of the VegaFina Nicaragua, I found this cigar to fit into the same target audience. 

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the VegaFina Nicaragua and see what this cigar brings to the table:

Blend Profile

As mentioned the VegaFina Nicaragua is a Nicaraguan puro.  The cigar itself does not originate from Nicaragua as it is made at Tabacalera de Garcia in the Dominican Republic.  This is not the first cigar to do this.  Most notably, the Davidoff Nicaragua is a Nicaraguan puro out of the Dominican Republic.

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habana 2000, Jalapa
Binder: Nicaraguan Seco, Jalapa
Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero, Jalapa, Nicaraguan Viso, Esteli, Nicaraguan Seco, Jalapa

Vitolas Available

The  VegaFina Nicaragua is available in three sizes.  The cigars are packaged in boxes of 25.

Short Corona: 4 5/16 x 42
Robusto: 5 x 50
Gran Toro: 6 x 52

Appearance

The Habana 2000 wrapper of the VegaFina Nicaragua Robusto has a medium brown color with almost an orange tint to it.  The wrapper itself is generally smooth.  It has a slight coating of oil on it.  There are minimally visible wrapper seams.  Most of the visible veins are quite thin.

There are two bands on the VegaFina Nicaragua. The primary band features a gray, brown silver and white color scheme. On the center of the band is a VegaFina logo. This features “VF” in silver font. The “VF” sits on a dark brown circular background. A silver wreath surrounds the “VF”. There is also silver striping toward the outer part of the circle. The rest of the band features a thick brown stripe with a thinner gray stripe above and below it. On the left side of the band is the text “VEGAFINA” in gray font. On the right side of the band is the text “HECHO A MANO” in gray font. The thick brown stripe features smaller “VF”s outlined in gray in wallpaper fashion.

There is a secondary band that is orange in color. It has black and silver striping across the top and bottom. On the center of the band is the text “Nicaragua” in black cursive font.

It’s hard not to think of the design of the Davidoff Nicaragua when you look at the VegaFina one.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

Prior to lighting the VegaFina Nicaragua Robusto, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap.  Once the cap was removed, I moved on to the pre-light draw.  The cold draw delivered subtle notes of earth, mixed fruit, and baker’s spice. Overall I found the cold draw to be quite pleasant. At this point, I was ready to light up the VegaFina Nicaragua and see what the smoking phase would have in store.

Flavor Profile

The start to the VegaFina Nicaragua Robusto provided some notes of black pepper.  I wouldn’t categorize this as a “spice blast”, but the spice was pretty much a solo flavor. As the pepper subsided some of the flavors that were present on the pre-light draw surfaced – namely earth and mixed fruit. The earth notes became primary while the fruit and pepper notes became secondary. The pepper notes transitioned to a red pepper note on the tongue, but remained black pepper on the retro-hale. This created a nice multi-dimensional effect of the spice without being overpowering.

For most of the first two thirds, I found the earth notes to be a constant in the forefront. The fruit and pepper notes swapped in and out as a primary flavor. This provided a nice variance of sweet and spice throughout the smoking experience.

Toward the final third, I found the VegaFina Nicaragua to have primary notes of earth and spice. The fruit notes were more subtle. This is the way the flavor profile came to a close. The end of the cigar was flavorful with no harshness. The resulting nub was cool in temperature, but soft to the touch.

Burn and Draw

From a burn perspective, I didn’t find this to be the best burn from a cosmetic standpoint.  I didn’t find this to be a problematic burn, just one that wasn’t the prettiest. The path of the burn remained relatively straight, but there was some jaggedness along the burn line.  I also found this wrapper blistered easily, so I had to touch-up this cigar with a little more tlc. The resulting ash was a silvery gray. It wasn’t an overly firm ash, but it wasn’t loose either. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.

Burn of the VegaFina Nicaragua Robusto

The draw was solid.  It was not too loose, nor was it too tight.  This made for a low maintenance cigar to puff on.

Strength and Body

As mentioned above, the VegaFina brand leans more toward mild to medium profiles – and this is exactly what I got with the VegaFina Nicaragua Robusto. From both a strength and body profile, I found this to be mild to medium for both attributes. Both attributes increase slightly in intensity and by the last third, I assessed the strength and body to be medium. Overall I found the VegaFina Nicaragua to balance its strength and body nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.

Final Thoughts

This was a very interesting cigar.  It delivered a lot of things that were characteristic of a VegaFina and it delivered a lot things characteristic of an Nicaragua puro.  From the VegaFina side, this cigar kept true to the mild to medium profile in terms of strength and body for the majority of the cigar experience (as mentioned, I thought the last third the cigar became medium).  From the Nicaraguan puro end, this cigar very much had classic Nicaraguan puro notes in terms of the earth and pepper notes delivered.  What really stood out is how there was some Nicaraguan spice, but for the most part it was subtle and not overwhelming.   This is a great cigar to introduce to a novice enthusiast looking for something with good flavor, decent complexity, but not “too much cigar”. I would encourage experienced cigar enthusiasts looking for a Nicaraguan profile dialed back to check this. Overall this is a cigar I’d smoke again and it’s one I’d consider a five pack of.

Summary

Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Mild to Medium (1st 2/3), Medium (Last third)
Body: Mild to Medium (1st 2/3), Medum (Last third)
Finish: Good
Assessment: 3.0 – The Fiver
Score: 89

References

News: VegaFina Nicaragua by Altadis USA 
Price: $6.00
Source: Cigar Provided by Manufacturer
Stogie Geeks Podcast: Episode 124
Stogie Feed: VegaFina Nicaragua Robusto by Altadis USA