Fonseca TAA Signature Series by Manuel Quesada

The Fonseca TAA Signature Series by Manuel Quesada was a cigar released in 2008  exclusive to Tobacconists Association of America (TAA) retailers.  Each year, cigar manufacturers are given the opportunity to provide exclusive releases to those retailers that are members of the TAA.  These can be exclusive blends, exclusive vitolas, and/or early release cigars.  Many times the exclusive offerings are done on a limited basis.  Given at the time of this assessment the 2013 TAA Convention is taking place, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the Fonseca TAA Signature Series by Manuel Quesada.  This cigar is one of the hidden gems of the TAA releases – as it is probably like no other Fonseca cigar I’ve had before.

First up a little background on the TAA.  This is a small group of retailers (the TAA web-site lists a total of 71).  As per their web-site, the TAA is defined as:

“The Tobacconists’ Association of America, Ltd. is a trade organization established in 1968 by visionary retail tobacconists. By providing education, communication, research, advocacy, and member discount programs, The TAA works with our members and the industry they support to offer the tools and relationship building opportunities needed to maximize professionalism and success.”

The TAA describes their mission statement as:

To provide an open forum of ideas, strategies, and problem solving between retail tobacconist and vendors to the trade.

One of the objectives of the TAA exists is:

To function as a buying group that takes advantage of industry close outs and passes huge savings to members, and exclusively provides high-quality cigars and pipes manufactured by TAA associate members and under TAA-owned trademarks.

It is this objective above that most likely fits with the concept of the TAA exclusive cigars. 

While the Fonseca line is known for its milder cigars, there have recently been more fuller strength and fuller-bodied offerings.  This includes the recently released Fonseca Cubano Exclusivo, the Fonseca Cubano Limitado, and the limited edition Fonseca CXX Anni.   As we will see, the Fonseca TAA Signature Series might be the fullest offering of all the Fonseca releases.  Without further adieu, let’s break down this cigar and see what it delivers.

Blend Profile

The Fonseca TAA Signature Series by Manuel Quesada is a Dominican puro.  A post in the Cigar Aficionado forums by David Savona indicates the tobaccos all come from the Navarrete region – located in the northern part of the country.

Wrapper: Dominican
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican

The cigar also bears the name of the master blender, Manuel Quesada.

Vitolas Available

The Fonseca TAA Signature Series by Manuel Quesada was only released in one size – a 5 1/4 x 52 sized robusto-sized vitola.  The cigars were packaged 20 per a box.  As per the post by Savona, there were only 650 boxes produced for a total of 13,000 cigars.

Box for the Fonseca TAA Signature Series
by Manuel Quesada


The wrapper to the Fonseca TAA Signature Series by Manuel Quesada is a rich milk chocolate wrapper.  The wrapper has a oily complexion and the cigar I was smoking had a slight plume to it. There are some visible wrapper seams and visible veins.  The surface of the cigar can be considered slightly toothy.  There is a mild cedar spice aroma I could detect by the footer.

There are two bands to the Fonseca TAA Signature Series.  The first band is similar to the classic Fonseca band found on much of the core line of cigars.  In the center of the band is the red and white Fonseca logo.   Under the logo is the text “IMPORTED” in white font on the logo’s red background. There is gold trim around the outer edge of the band and the Fonseca logo.  On the left side of the band is the text “HAND” in red font on a thin white rectangular field.  On the right side of the band is “MADE” in red font on a thin white rectangular field.

There is a secondary band just below the primary band.  It has a black background with gold trim and font.  On that band is the text “SIGNATURE SERIES” on two lines in gold font.  Just below that text is the text “by Manuel Quesada” in small gold font.  There is also gold trim going around the band.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my smoking experience of the Fonseca TAA Signature Series, I opted for a straight cut to remove the cap.  Once the cap was clipped, I immediately moved on to the pre-light draw.  The dry draw notes yielded a combination of chocolate, leather, and pepper.  Overall I considered the pre-light draw to be a positive experience.  At this point, I was ready to light up my Fonseca TAA Signature Series and see what the cigar would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

The Fonseca TAA Signature Series is not an overly complex cigar.  However, while the flavor profile can be considered simple, this is a case where the cigar delivers great flavors without having to deliver a lot in complexity.

The start to the Fonseca TAA Signature Series continues with the chocolate, leather, and pepper notes I got from the pre-light draw.  Around the five percent point, the leather and earth notes took over as the primary notes.  The chocolate notes became more of a secondary flavor.   The retro-hale definitely delivered a pepper spice.  While these are common flavors to a cigar, there is something about the way these flavors meshed that really clicked.  It made for an enjoyable smoke.

In the second half, the pepper took over as the primary note.  The leather notes joined the chocolate as a secondary flavor.  The fusion between these flavors still clicked very well.  The end of the Fonseca TAA Signature Series was spicy, but not harsh.  The resulting nub was ideal – firm to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

For the most part, the burn of the Fonseca TAA Signature Series was good.  The burn line did tend to get uneven several times – and this seemed to be a recurring theme with this cigar. Touching up the cigar with my butane lighter did adjust the burn line, but I did have to do this more than I expected.  The resulting ash was firm with a salt and pepper color.  There was no flaking or flowering from the ash.   The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

The draw to the Fonseca TAA Signature Series was stellar.  It had a touch of resistance – which is something that I like in a cigar.  This made the Fonseca TAA Signature Series a joy to smoke.

Strength and Body

As I mentioned, this is definitely the fullest cigar from both a strength and body perspective.  In fact, I’d put this cigar up against any full strength/full-bodied cigar.  Even though these cigars were made several years ago, this cigar delivers a nice nicotine punch and has deep, robust flavors to it.   It is also a very well balanced cigar.  Both the strength and body contribute equally with neither attribute overshadowing the other.

Final Thoughts

The Fonseca TAA Signature Series by Manuel Quesada is one of the best cigars to have the Fonseca name on it.  TAA exclusive releases that are limited edition are often difficult to find, but it is a cigar like this that makes it worth the effort to track down.  This cigar isn’t going to deliver anything revolutionary from a flavor profile, but it going to deliver a good flavor profile.  Given that this cigar is full strength/full-bodied, I would only steer this to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this cigar is clearly one I’d smoke again – and if I could get a box, I’d smoke it.


Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Low
Strength: Full
Body: Full
Finish: Excellent
Assessment: Memorable
Score: 93

Source: The cigars for this assessment were a combination of cigars purchased from Tinder Box of Charlotte in 2009, and cigars gifted to me personally by Manuel Quesada.  As always, Cigar Coop is grateful to the cigars received, but this has no impact on the final assessment rating and score.