Vega Talanga debuted in 2002 from the cigar division of US Tobacco, better known as the producers of Skoal and Copenhagen smokeless chew. Since then that part of UST has been transferred to Swisher/General Cigars as part of a settlement in an antitrust suit. The information I have is dated previous to that takeover, so caveat lector.
The term “tercio” at one time referred to a 16th century Spanish military formation, also known as “the Spanish square,” a mixed infantry formation that utilized pikemen and musketeers to capitalize on the brute strength of the pikes and the long-range abilities of the muskets.
In the cigar world, however, a tercio is a bale of cigar tobacco sealed in the bark of the royal palm tree. This reportedly creates a tighter seal than the plastic, burlap, or cardboard materials often used to bale tobacco. This method results in less loss of moisture and forces the recirculation of air throughout the bale, making a more flavorful tobacco. (At least that’s what Manuel Quesada says, and who am I to argue?)
The Talanga Valley is located in the Francisco Morazan province of Honduras about a two hours drive north from Danli. Much of the tobacco is grown encallado — sheltered behind large stands of king grass to protect it from the wind — and is sun grown, resulting in a stronger leaf. Combine this with the deep fermentation the tobacco receives in the tercio, and you have the makings of a rich and powerful smoke.
Instead of the standard spanish cedar box, the Vega Talanga Tercio is presented in packages of palm bark just like the ones used to process the raw tobacco. The raw unfinished character of the cigar is emphasized again by its untrimmed foot, and a pig tail cap. The Tercios are produced in Danli using Talanga tobacco for wrapper, binder, and most of the filler, but the filler is supplemented with some Nicaraguan leaf.
Vega Talanga has introduced a new corojo line available in three sizes, but so far the Tercio is only available in one size: a 6 x 54 toro. The roll seems rather soft, and the draw is very easy. The wrapper is rough and leathery with a rich colorado color.
A little effort is required to light this cigar since the foot is flagged and the flaps are folded over onto the foot. But once it gets going, it requires no further maintenance. The burn is a bit uneven at times, but it corrects itself. The softness of this stick is a little weird, but it doesn’t seem to affect the draw or the burn.
The flavor is unusual, and I can’t quite pin it down. The smoke is very smooth, almost creamy in texture, but the flavor is of various shades of earth. At first it tastes of minerals, after a couple inches it turns musky, and the last transition is to a slightly woody flavor. I’m not comfortable with these descriptors, but it’s the closest I can get. It’s an easy smoking cigar, but complex. I can’t compare it to anything — this cigar produces flavors outside the standard spectrum, I think.
The aftertaste is a little bitter, somewhat metallic. A peaty scotch companion comes to the assist here.
All in all a very interesting smoke. I have an Astral Talanga Valley in the humidor that I may have to pounce on soon, because now I want to know if the unusual flavors in the Vega Talanga are coming from the Talanga Valley, or from Vega Talanga…