Made in the Tabacalera Fernandez factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, La Herencia Cubana is a great example of how a Nicaraguan cigar in the style of Padron and Pepin does not have to cost over five dollars a stick.
AJ Fernandez is the man behind brands like Padilla Habano, Man O’ War, and Rocky Patel’s ITC 10th Anniversary cigar. AJ is a relatively young guy, but already we are seeing signs that he has a very bright future in the industry. Recently arrived from Cuba after receiving an education in the business from the legendary Alejandro Robaina, he is currently growing his own tobacco in Condega and Jalapa for filler and binder in his new blends. He has yet to grow his own wrapper leaf, but his close relationships with Nestor Plasencia (his uncle) and the Oliva Tobacco Company have given Fernandez all the resources he needs to create the next stellar Nicaraguan cigar.
La Herencia Cubana (Cuban Heritage) features filler tobaccos from Nicaragua’s three main growing regions: Condega, Jalapa, and Esteli. The wrapper is a dark Ecuadorian Sumatra that shows a fair amount of tooth for this type of wrapper, and seems to have small chips in it like some maduro leaves do. The roll is excellent: solid and consistent, and the cap is uniform and well made.
My first impression upon lighting this cigar is that it could have been made at another, more familiar, Esteli factory: Tabacalera Cubana. The initial blast of pepper lasts for half an inch or so and then settles down to a still aggressive foundation of wood and earth. There is a bright, almost acidic edge to this smoke that stings a bit on retrohaling. The aroma is sweet and earthy, reminding me a little bit of United Tobacco’s Cubao.
An inch or two into this robusto and a couple more familiar Nicaraguan suspects are at the door: cocoa and his cousin coffee. They blend very well with the sweet earthy aroma from the wrapper. The burn is excellent, requires no babysitting, and the ash holds reasonably well. My only complaint at this time is an unpleasant bite in the back of the throat. It’s not so excessive that it overtakes the character of the cigar, but it does prove a distraction.
The last third delivers a pretty good nicotine hit and the finish grows long and increasingly earthy. The sweetness from the wrapper keeps up with the strength of the blend, a mark of superior blending. After the band the flavor gets a little too dirty for my taste, but lovers of strong Nicaraguan tobacco may just want to nub this one.
My first impression when I lit up the Herencia Cubana robusto was that it was “Pepinesque,” and I think I’m going to stick with that description. It’s not as complex or rich as the average Pepin cigar, but there are definitely similarities. The sweet cocoa reminds in particular of EO’s Cubao, but again, without the same depth of flavor.
On the other hand, the price is a little less than what you’d pay for a Cubao or most of the cigars coming from Don Pepin — around 3 bucks a stick, or less if you catch a good deal. Cigars International occasionally offers this blend in an 8-cigar “flight” which is a great way to sample the line.
If you like the peppery cigars coming out of Nicaragua right now and your taste runs to medium-full rather than straight on full-bodied smokes — and your budget is a little cramped — you would do well to check out Herencia Cubana.