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Fonseca Belicosos | halfwheel


In December 2019, My Father Cigars, Inc. acquired the U.S. rights to the Fonseca brand. Fonseca was launched in Cuba in 1892—it is still made today by Habanos S.A.—though the Quesada family owned the U.S. rights to the brand for more than 45 years.

As part of the acquisition, My Father gave the Fonseca brand a rework, including updated packaging and a new blend that uses all Nicaraguan tobacco, though only the wrapper has its varietal disclosed, a shade grown corojo 99 rosado leaf.

 

About eight months after My Father announced the acquisition, it released the cigars, shipping them to stores in August 2020. It offered them in six sizes, ranging from a small and slender petit corona to a fairly beefy toro gordo, and one vitola that gets a cedar sleeve.

  • Fonseca by My Father Petit Corona (4 1/4 x 40) — $7 (Box of 20, $140)
  • Fonseca by My Father Robusto (5 1/4 x 52) — $9.50 (Box of 20, $190)
  • Fonseca by My Father Cosacos (5 3/8 x 42) — $7.75 (Box of 20, $155)
  • Fonseca by My Father Belicosos (5 1/2 x 54) — $10.60 (Box of 20, $212)
  • Fonseca by My Father Toro Gordo (6 x 55) — $11.20 (Box of 20, $224)
  • Fonseca by My Father Cedros (6 1/4 x 52) — $11 (Box of 20, $220)

Here’s what I said about the Fonseca Belicosos when I reviewed it in October 2020:

While I had no idea just what would come of the My Father makeover of Fonseca, I was incredibly intrigued to find out, and the answer is quite good. It’s certainly not adherent to the lineage of mild cigars with which Fonseca is associated, nor is it a My Father core line clone. It is also not a cigar that feels at place under the banner of the amped up milder cigar that is often accompanied by the “not your father’s Connecticut” line. Rather, this cigar offers a lot of complexity to unpack, from its consistent pepper to its flirtation with some creaminess before its full embrace of a more full-flavored and palate stimulating profile. This is one of the handful of blends that seems to have found its own unique space in my smoking experience, and while I can certainly try and describe it, I’d rather just recommend trying it yourself, as unless you are an ardent defender of the mild Fonseca profile, I think you’ll be pleasantly impressed by what My Father has created.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Fonseca Belicosos
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Shade Grown Corojo 99 Rosado)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Belicoso
  • MSRP: $10.60 (Box of 20, $212)
  • Release Date: August 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

The Fonseca Belicosos looks much like I remember it from a year ago and my occasional revisits since, with a fairly well-tanned wrapper that still has a good amount of oiliness to it. There are some veins to the leaf, enough to catch my eye but not enough to be distracting. What does catch my eye comes when I take the foot ribbon off, as it appears to have left a bit of a mark behind. There seems to be just a bit of crease in the wrapper, while there is also just enough difference in the leaf’s shade to see where the ribbon had been covering it. I’m not sure what to attribute it to, but it does look like the bottom half inch or so has an ever-so-slightly level of uneven tan compared to the color above it. The cigar is rolled firmly and consistently, with flat seams and a well-applied head, with my only note that there is a bit of color variation that makes it stand out from the rest of the wrapper. The foot is bright and attention-grabbing, reminding me of a slice of cooled banana bread at first sniff, evolving to add in some black pepper, a bit of orange and some creaminess, a combination that goes onto elicit a sneeze. A decent, if somewhat conservative clip of the head gives me a more than adequate amount of airflow, and while the flavor isn’t as bright or complex as the aroma, it’s still enjoyable. There is some creaminess and a subtle flavor that falls between mixed nuts and light woodiness, with very little if any pepper.

The thing that I remember from smoking this cigar about a year ago was that it was neither the traditional, mellower Fonseca blend associated with both the Cuban and Dominican-made versions, nor was it simply a clone of the My Father core lines. Yet at the same time, it didn’t completely abandon its roots, so I’m most intrigued to see if that still holds true after just about a year in the humidor. The first puffs are a bit more pepper-laden than I recall, particularly through the nose, with early retrohales having more of the Pepín pepper punch than the Fonseca finesse. There is a bit of creaminess on the palate, which, if I wasn’t retrohaling would definitely make this cigar seem milder than the combination gives me. There’s also a bit of nuttiness—cashews, unsalted peanuts—adjacent to light woodiness in the profile but never in the same puff. Because of the pepper, I keep going back to the retrohale and even in the first inch it’s clear that the combination is more than the sum of its parts. Construction in the first third is very good and I don’t think I’ll need to clip any more of the head off in order to get better airflow or smoke production. The burn line is a touch wavy but nothing I’m concerned about. There is a bit of mellowing of the pepper and nuttiness as the cigar enters its second third, with some puffs having a bit more wood in their place, but the profile has seemed to stay largely the same, with the flavors seemingly coming together during its period of rest. By the midpoint, the Fonseca Belicosos is definitely more wood-forward in its flavor, a change that results in a drier sensation on the palate as it is clear that the creaminess from the early puffs is on hiatus. The burn line is the only thing of note from a technical aspect, as the cigar burns quite well otherwise. Flavor is a tick or two over medium for most of the first half, body is a solid medium, and strength feels a bit shy of medium.

The second half of the Fonseca Belicosos opens up with a fairly dry, toasty flavor, a continuation of its progression throughout the second third but one that catches my attention as I start both the back half and a new paragraph. It’s a bit of a resting spot for the profile, as once the final third gets underway a good bit of pepper joins the profile to really up its vibrance. Without a heavy earthiness, it’s a lighter expression of pepper than one might expect from a My Father blend but is no slouch when it comes to reawakening the taste buds. Even though this vitola doesn’t get the cedar sleeve that the Cedros vitola does, I’m now getting a fairly clear flavor of cedar from the cigar, which is the first time I can say the woodiness has a more specific flavor. This new profile of the blend also means the cigar has a much more lingering tingle on the finish than it has offered to this point, particularly on the sides. The farther the burn line progresses into the final third, the more the burn line starts to struggle to stay even, something not helped by a bit of damage to the wrapper that came with the removal of the band. While a touch-up helps a bit, it’s likely just something I’ll deal with the rest of the way, though its effect is more cosmetic than anything. The cedar steps back into a supporting role in the final inches, clearing the way for the pepper to step up to a leading role, while a bit of orange zest enters for sweetness and tanginess. The body of the smoke thickens up a bit as well, becoming a bit more bread-like at times but more just imparting a slightly heavier sensation on the taste buds. I could make the case for some red chili pepper coming in as well, as the cigar is not just peppery but also a bit spicy now. Flavor finishes at a vibrant medium-plus, body is medium-full, and strength ramps up in the final third to finish medium-plus. Other than the burn line struggles that this sample had, construction and combustion are both great. The cigar takes about two hours and 15 minutes from start to finish, never needing a relight even with a leisurely smoking rate.

92
Overall Score

The reworked Fonseca line was easily among the most impressive new lines that I smoked in 2020, and a year of rest shows that the blend has held up quite well. There is still plenty of vibrance from the profile, largely due to the pepper, wood and cedar, yet there is also more cohesiveness between the flavors, now seeming a bit denser and more intertwined. Whether you smoke one off the shelf or with a bit of rest, the Fonseca Belicosos—and really all the sizes in the line—are incredibly enjoyable and a cigar that deserves to be in any cigar smoker’s rotation.

Original Score (October 2020)

91

Redux Score (September 2021)

92

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I’m a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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