28 Jul 2010
Fonseca, established in 1974 when the Quesada family opened a Dominican factory, has built a reputation for mild-tasting cigars anchored by its original Connecticut shade blend. These days their portfolio is a bit more diversified.
Their collection includes Habana Selección, a blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos wrapped in a habana criollo ’98 leaf. I reviewed the robusto-sized Cosacos in March and found it to be uncomplicated and, frankly, rather dull.
Hoping for a better outcome, I’ve set my sights on the Serie F, a three-vitola line launched in 2003 by Manuel Quesada to attract fans of fuller-bodied cigars. It features a Connecticut wrapper with a Mexican binder and Cuban-seed ligero filler—a blend that is said to be only slightly stronger than the original Fonseca. Quesada, after all, is no fan of brute power.
Handmade at the Manufactura de Tabacos S.A. factory in Santiago, the Serie F Toro measures six inches with a 50 ring gauge. It is a sturdy stick with a well-packed cross-section of tobacco, a firm feel, and several prominent veins and protruding seams. The golden, triple-capped exterior yields only the slightest pre-light aroma of sweet hay and sawdust.
The “F” in “Serie F” stands for fuerte, which is Spanish for “strong.” And while the blend is certainly stronger than the original Fonseca, it is a far cry from the bold cigars that have grown in popularity in recent years. I would even venture to say that the Toro leans to the milder side of the medium-bodied spectrum.
But it certainly isn’t without flavor. The profile is characterized by a dry, biting saltiness with warm tobacco and plenty of cedar and spice. A vegetal flavor—one that I can best describe as green pepper—dominates the lingering aftertaste and the aromatic resting smoke. The whole effect is interesting yet lacking in nuance.
As far as the physical properties are concerned, the Toro earns high marks for its solid white ash, straight burn, and clear draw. You’d be hard-pressed to find a cigar in this price range with better construction.
Still, I can’t see myself reaching for another Serie F Toro in the near future. Despite its wallet friendly price tag of $4-6 apiece, it is too salty, occasionally hot and bitter, and, although unique with hints of sweetness here and there, not balanced enough to hold my attention. I therefore award this Fonseca two and a half stogies out of five.
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photo credit: Stogie Guys