The Plasencia Reserva Organica is advertised by its distributor, Indianhead, as “the first completely organically grown cigar to come along since the Indians stopped rolling their own.” I might quibble with the concept of growing cigars, and I’ve read that the Cubans have utilized organic methods extensively, but it must be true that the Plasencia Reserva Organica is the first to be certified as a purely organic cigar.
But I can hear the groans already. Organic hippy dippy shit. But wait! What’s so terrible about eschewing the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides? It’s hard to say what the long term effects of these chemicals are on tobacco workers and possibly, the end product, so why not see if it’s possible to go without them? Obviously it’s going to be more difficult to cultivate and harvest any crop in this manner, and therefore more expensive, but I don’t see anything intrinsically wrong with it. At the very least it opens the “organic” question for discussion. Have you ever wondered what chemicals are used to produce your favorite cigar?
Nestor Plasencia, Jr. is the madman behind this crazy organic thing, and it only makes sense that he picked up this harebrained idea in a university where he received a degree in Agricultural Engineering. And I suppose being the son of Nestor Plasencia Sr., one of the most prolific cigar makers in Central America, had something to do with it too. Maybe a lot.
To avoid the risk of contamination and because the certification requirements are so stringent, the Organica operation is entirely separate from Plasencia’s other fields and facilities in Esteli and Jalapa. All Nicaraguan tobaccos are used, but only the sturdiest criollo and corojo hybrids make the cut because many of the earlier seeds (such as Camacho’s first generation corojo) are very susceptible to disease and insect damage when they are deprived of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Organic farmers have to substitute a lot of hard work for chemicals in order to keep their crops in good shape.
And all this extra work comes with a price. The toro checks in at around 7 USD per stick, or $135 for a box of 20.
The PRO toro is a nice looking stick. The wrapper is dark and a bit mottled, a little leathery looking, and has a simple tobacco scent with some grassiness to it. The prelight draw is easy, a little too easy on one sample, but overall the roll is good.
This cigar starts up with a very clean, slightly toasty flavor with a touch of sweetness. I certainly wouldn’t guess this was a Nicaraguan puro if I didn’t know it already. The texture of the smoke is very smooth with a mild body that grows to about a medium at the end. A delicate but indistinct aroma accompanies the mild flavor. I can’t decide if it reminds me more of leather or wood, or neither. It’s not easily distinguishable.
By the midpoint the smoke has built a little body and displays some leathery elements, but not a lot of complexity. One of the big challenges for milder bodied cigars is development and complexity, and unfortunately the PRO doesn’t do very well in this department.
This is a very slow burning cigar. Of the three I’ve smoked for this review, I’ve only been able to finish one, after an hour and a half of insistent puffing. The construction here is fair to good, with a couple samples having a loose roll and requiring periodic touchups with the torch. (Can I call these torch-ups?) The ash is a flaky solid white that tends to blow away if the cigar is not promptly ashed.
I really wanted to like this cigar, but in the final analysis I think it just doesn’t have a whole lot of character. It’s not a bad cigar by any means, but it just didn’t hold my interest for any length of time. It’s a very clean-tasting straightforward cigar with a mild body and a mild character. Maybe a little more ligero is called for, or a spicy non-organic sungrown wrapper. It needs a little something, I think.