Jesus Fuego is perhaps best known for his work with Rocky Patel’s 1990 and 1992 Vintage blends, but he has come into his own in the last couple of years with Tabacos S.A. and his “J. Fuego” line of cigars.
Like so many other premium cigar makers, Fuego’s family tree stretches back several generations to the fertile soil of Pinar del Rio, Cuba. His family has been in the tobacco growing business since the 1870’s, in a part of Cuba that would eventually become known as “El Corojo.” The Fuegos were mostly tobacco producers for the factories in Havana, but Jesus took it a little further along the production line to become an expert in post-harvest tobacco processing.
Fuego holds a master’s degree in agronomy and wrote his thesis on tobacco fermentation after studying at Havana University and receiving training at the Fabrica de Tobacos Francisco Donatien, where he worked on the emerging new Cuban marca called Vegueros.
In the late 90’s he left Cuba and arrived in Honduras, where he went to work for Camacho’s Julio Eiroa. Later on, while he was working for U.S. Tobacco, he impressed Rocky Patel, who at the time was in the development stages of the blends that would become known as the Vintage 1990 and 1992. Fuego eventually would become Rocky’s “right-hand man,” not only assisting in the blending of his cigars but also supervising many of his factories. Along the way he would also help to blend my favorite RP blend, the Sun Grown, and the Olde World Reserve as well.
But in late 2006 Fuego decided to step out on his own. With the help of the ubiquitous Plasencia family (the Fuegos and the Plasencias have a long history as neighbors going back to the nineteenth century in Cuba) Fuego introduced his inaugural J. Fuego cigars: the Natural, and the Gran Reserva Corojo No. 1.
Since then he has lent a hand in several other blends, both for his own J. Fuego brand and others such as Defiance by Xikar, a house blend for Famous Smoke (Royal Nicaraguan), and this one for Cigars International: Casa Fuego.
The Casa Fuego is made in Honduras with Nicaraguan tobaccos: the wrapper is Nicaraguan Habano, while the binder and filler are corojo. Fuego has a long history with corojo — in fact, his family’s farm in Cuba was called Corojo No. 1 — and the fact that his first employer in Honduras was the Eiroa family says something as well. This guy really knows corojo.
Casa Fuego is available in five sizes:
- Corona (5.5 x 46)
- Double Corona (7 x 50)
- Robusto (5 x 50)
- Toro (6.5 x 52)
- Belicoso (6 x 52)
The Casa Fuego Belicoso features a slightly oily golden brown wrapper that shows a nice amount of fine tooth. The roll is a little bit spongy and irregular in places, particularly toward the head of the cigar, but once cut the draw and burn are perfect. These sticks are box pressed, but not square. After they have been in the humidor for a couple weeks the press is barely noticeable.
The ash is a solid dirty gray with lots of white speckles, a common occurrence with grainy wrapper leaf. The toothiness of this wrapper is quite reminiscent of Cameroon, as are some of the other smoking characteristics.
The Casa Fuego starts up with that typically tannic Nicaraguan flavor — woody, with a smattering of black pepper. The finish is dry and leaves an acidic tang on the tongue. The aroma contributes a sweet note of caramel and blends well with the drier flavors on the palate.
The sharp nature of the smoke softens up a bit after a couple inches. The pepper drops off and is replaced by cocoa or mild coffee, which combined with the residual tannins might come across as bittersweet chocolate. The aroma is spicier at this point, cedary with some mint, which strikes me as very Cameroonian.
The last third turns up the nicotine a couple notches, giving this medium-weight cigar a little more punch. The aroma is almost piney as the ash approaches the band. The aftertaste gets heavy and a bit tarry if rushed, so take it easy across the finish line.
Aside from the fact that the Casa Fuego is a very well made and pleasant cigar, what impresses me the most is the price. The retail price is around 5 USD, but these can be easily had for half that on Cigarbid, the auction arm of Cigars International. For less than three dollars this is a great everyday cigar. Even though it isn’t a spectacular smoke, dollar for dollar this is one of the better buys I’ve made this year.
Final Score: 85