The 2016 IPCPR Trade Show was quite a busy one for Casa Fernandez as the company launched several new brands. One new brand was Aganorsa Leaf TABSA. This is a brand that is named for two key entities in the conglomeration owned by Eduardo Fernandez. Aganorsa is the name of Fernandez’s farms that grow the signature Nicaraguan tobacco (Aganorsa) that are used in Casa Fernandez’s blends. TABSA is an acronym for Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A., one of three factories owned by Casa Fernandez. When the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA brand was introduced, one of the blends was the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA Connecticut. The name indicates the blend utilizes a Connecticut Shade wrapper. It got a lot of attention because it is a wrapper that Casa Fernandez is not known to work with. The other blend was a Nicaraguan puro – simply called the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA. Today, we take a closer look at the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA in the Dharma No. 3 (Toro) size.
The origins of Casa Fernandez trace back to the late Pedro Martin. It was in 1978 when Martin founded Tabacalera Tropical, which included a portfolio of cigar brands. In 2002, Martin sold Tabacalera Tropical to Eduardo Fernandez. Tabacalera Tropical was integrated into Fernandez’s Aganorsa farming operation and was rebranded Casa Fernandez. Over the years, Casa Fernandez has moved his production operations into his own factories: TABSA (in Estelí, Nicaragua), Casa Fernandez Miami (in Miami, Florida), and most recently, SABSA (short for Sabor Aganorsa SA located in Jalapa). Over the years, the operations of these factories (headed by Paul Palmer Fernandez, Eduardo’s son Max, and Master Blender Arsenio Ramos) have not only produced brands for Casa Fernandez, but many other companies.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Casa Fernandez Aganosa TABSA Dharma No. 3 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
As mentioned, the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA uses 100% Nicaraguan tobaccos. Specific details of the tobacco components have not been disclosed.
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (TABSA)
The Aganorsa Leaf TABSA is available in four sizes – each contained in 15-count boxes.
Bodhi No. 1: 5 1/4 x 50
Aficion No. 2: 6 1/2 x 48
Dharma No. 3: 6 x 52
Sunyata No. 4: 6 x 60
Perhaps the most interesting part about this cigar is the Buddhist themes used on the three of the four vitolas. These names include:
- Bodhi: The understanding possessed by a Buddha regarding the true nature of things.
- Dharma: Refers to cosmic law and order.
- Sunyata: Refers to Buddhist teachings around “Empty Awareness”.
The fourth name Aficion does not seem to have a direct Buddhist reference, but is a Spanish term for hobby.
The Nicaraguan wrapper of the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA Dharma No. 3 had a medium to dark color. Upon closer examination, some darker mottling can be seen on the surface. There was some light oil on the wrapper. While there were some thin visible veins, the wrapper still had a slightly bumpy feel to it. Most of the wrapper seams are well hidden.
The bands on the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA has a glossy black color with gold trim. The center of the band has a gold circular field with gold dotted trim. On that field is a black and white image of an arm holding some tobacco leaves. The left side of the band has the text “AGANORSA LEAF” while the right side has the text “TABSA” – both in white font. The far right has a small black circular field that almost looks like a band fastener. On that field is the text “AL” In white font.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
I commenced the cigar experience of the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA Dharma No. 3 with a straight cut to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, I proceeded with the pre-light draw. The cold draw delivered a mix of chocolate, natural tobacco, and a slight cedar note. Overall, I considered this to be an excellent pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to light up the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA Dharma No. 3 and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
Right out of the gate, the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA Dharma No. 3 delivered a mix of natural tobacco, musty earth, red pepper, along with a classic “twang”. I usually will define a twang as a cross between natural tobacco, pepper, and citrus. During the very early stages, I found the musty earth and twang notes to be more prominent. There was additional red pepper and natural tobacco in the background. At the same time, there was also a layer of red pepper on the retro-hale.
As the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA Dharma No. 3 moved through the first third, the natural tobacco notes increased and the musty earth notes diminished into the background. The increase in natural tobacco also produced a little more sweetness. At the same time, there was almost a hickory-like component to these flavors. Later in the second third, the red pepper notes started to increase.
The last third saw the natural tobacco notes remain primary. There was still a mix of sweetness and hickory with the natural tobacco. By this point, the red pepper was a close secondary note. By now the musty earth and twang was not much of a factor. The is the way the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA Dharma No. 3 came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
When it came to its burn, the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA Dharma No. 3 performed quite well. The cigar had no problem maintaining a straight burn path. It also took a relatively few amount of touch-ups to keep the burn line safe. The resulting ash wasn’t overly firm and was prone to some minor flaking. The ash had a classic salt and pepper color. Meanwhile the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
I found the draw of the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA Dharma No. 3 to also score nicely. This was a draw that had a pleasant touch of resistance to it. At the same time, I found the Dharma No. 3 delivered an abundant layer of smoke throughout the cigar experience.
Strength and Body
The Aganorsa Leaf TABSA Dharma No. 3 started out with medium strength and medium body. There was a minimal increase in strength along the way. As for the body, I found the depth of the flavors of the Dharma No. 3 increased more significantly. As a result, by the second half, the Dharma No. 3 was in the medium to full-bodied range.
In terms of strength versus body with the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA Dharma No.3, I found the body to have the edge throughout the smoking experience.
Right out of the gate, the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA Dharma No. 3 tasted different than anything I have had out of TABSA before. While normally I don’t like a lot of sweetness on a cigar, I still found this cigar needed some sweetness during those early stages where the twang and musty earth notes were more prominent. However, as the cigar progressed that sweetness did develop and this cigar became much more enjoyable. While I always say its best to smoke a cigar undistracted, with the case of the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA Dharma No. 3, I’ll emphasize this point. This is a cigar I would recommend to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast, but it’s certainly one I wouldn’t discourage a novice from smoking.
At $7.00 per cigar, the Aganorsa Leaf TABSA Dharma No. 3 is a great value. There was certainly enough to keep one interested in this cigar. As a result, this is a cigar I’d recommend picking up and buying multiples for your humidor.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Musty Earth, Red Pepper, Hickory, “Twang” Note
Complexity: Medium Plus
Body: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy Multiples
News: Casa Fernandez Introduces Aganorsa Leaf TABSA at 2016 IPCPR
Brand Reference: Casa Fernandez
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop