Meaning “Soul of Fire” in Spanish, the Alma del Fuego was created by Nestor Plasencia to showcase ometepe tobacco grown on Nicaragua’s eponymous volcanic island. In this article, you will discover the Plasencia Alma del Fuego as we review it according to the following:
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- Brand: Plasencia
- Range: Alma del Fuego
- Reviewed Vitolas: 6 x 54 “Concepción” Toro
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Jalapa Sungrown
- Binder: Nicaraguan Ometepe & Undisclosed (Double Binder)
- Filler: Ometepe & Other Nicaraguan Tobacco
- Factory: Plasencia, Nicaragua
- Handmade: Yes
- Body: Full
- Estimated Smoking Time: 90 Minutes
- Pricing: $16 / Single [Buy Now]
The Alma del Fuego was released in 2019 and is available in three box-pressed vitolas: the “Concepción” 6 x 54 Toro, the “Candente” 5 x 50 Robusto, and the “Flama” 6.5 x 38 Panatella. This review will focus on the toro. However, the robusto and panatella have also been sampled with images available below for reference.
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Plasencia Alma del Fuego Look & Feel
- Wrapper Hue: Antique Oak
- Rolling Consistency: Slightly Inconsistent
- Spring: Firm
- Aromas: Caramel, Labdanum, Agarwood
The Alma del Fuego has an overall rustic appearance, which appears to be intentional. Therefore, I’m quite torn about penalising it as it does have a certain charm. It has a rough, rustic, and yet rich appearance. The roll has noticeable bumps but a firm spring.
Its antique oak hue gives off a rich oily sheen in the light while the veins are quite coarse but in an elegant way.
Additionally, excess wrapper leaf has been folded over the foot, which only adds to its alluring and original appearance. Peeling away some of the tobacco on the foot, you may experience notes of caramel, musky labdanum, and vanilla olibanum.
Plasencia Alma del Fuego Review
As per usual, we stored the cigars in a Boveda acrylic humidor for a period of three weeks that was calibrated at 69% RH with Boveda packs. They were monitored with a Boveda Butler to make sure that they were properly acclimated before the review.
- Draw: Ideal
- Aromas: Curcuma, Cardamon, Tonka Bean
I was struck by a distinctive note of cardamon on the prelight, which was bracing and exciting. There’s also curcuma (turmeric), which adds additional spice to the bouquet. Meanwhile, tonka bean adds a rich and caramelized gourmand aspect.
Furthermore, the draw is excellent. A very refined airflow should open up nicely and offer a full smoking experience.
1st Third Smoking Experience
- Notes: Caramel, Soil, Agarwood
In the first third, the burn line is quite wavy and the flaky ash has a tendency to split. However, while the burn line does have a few issues, it only split on one of the three samples.
Otherwise, it’s a wonderfully complex smoke. A rich and nuanced bouquet of nuances delivers an enigma of different notes. Every time you feel like you know more about, you suddenly understand less!
The tasting notes are quite caramelised. Indeed, it could be compared to an old añejo rum or Scotch. There’s also a soil note that is reminiscent of nutrient-dense compost. It’s not like the terracotta soil that you get from a Cuban cigar. In fact, you could argue that it’s the antithesis of this characteristically Cuban experience.
Finally, an agarwood note produces a resinous experience that’s evocative of vanilla, musk, and spice. For now, the cigar is subtle and nuanced but it wouldn’t be described as strong or full-bodied just yet.
2nd Third Smoking Experience
- Notes: Liquorice, Espresso Bean, Charred Oak
Although the ash has stopped splitting, the burn line remains wavy. As the first third came to a close, it began to hint at a metallic note. However, rather than pursue something similar in the second third, it started to become heavier and more gourmand.
It also develops a particular bitterness embodied by an aroma of freshly-roasted espresso beans as well as a caramelised and meaty texture. However, a note of liquorice offsets the savoury aspect of this characteristic by providing some sweetness. Meanwhile, charred oak produces a thick and full-bodied substance to the overall experience.
Final Third Smoking Experience
- Notes: Basque Espelette, Charred Oak, Cacao
Although I try to avoid it as much as possible when reviewing cigars, one sample required touching up. Nevertheless, it has still maintained an excellent ash stack. The unapologetically brash gourmand profile of the second third has faded in favoured of a rounded, earthier character.
It’s dominated by Basque espelette chilli pepper, which retains a certain sweetness. Otherwise, the charred oak has persisted from the second third, which interacts with rich cacao.
Overall, its complexity is immersive with rich flavour throughout each third. Even as the body grows in strength, the mouthfeel remains creamy, thick, and smooth. It envelops the palate without overwhelming the smoker. Similarly, the palate stimulation is balanced and harmonious.
The lifecycle is quite dynamic, transitioning from an initially metallic and caramelised profile into a deeper and earthier experience. Eventually, it settles into a subdued and laidback final third as if to let the smoker rest from such an adventurous journey. The finish lingers on the palate, allowing a moment of contemplation afterwards.
Finally, the residual scent in the room is fragrant and smooth despite its full and rich body.
- Ash Backbone: Mostly Strong
- Burn Angle: Somewhat Wavy
- Temperature: Cool
- Draw: Ideal Airflow
- Final Smoking Time: 95 Minutes
As mentioned throughout each third, the Alma del Fuego can have a few burn issues. Splitting and flaky ash aren’t uncommon but they aren’t systematic, either. Meanwhile, the burn line is rarely straight and has a tendency to be wavy.
Otherwise, the draw is excellent and produces just the right airflow. Similarly, if the ash doesn’t split, it’s quite strong and produces a solid backbone. Furthermore, the smoke is cool, but the Flama panatella may heat up if you smoke it too quickly. Indeed, the long and narrow shape does require slow and patient smoking.
In keeping with the Alma range, the Fuego has three separate bands. On this occasion, it features a bright red colour, which is not very surprising given the name. The foot band needs to be removed immediately but it can protect the cigar during transport.
Meanwhile, the main band is quite large and needs taking off during the second third. For this reason, I’m quite fond of the thin tertiary band as it allows you to retain some ornamentation while you smoke. Some people may find it quite ostentatious but I’m very fond of it!
The box follows the band’s design and colour palate. In fact, the box is somewhat reminiscent of the yearly Chinese zodiac releases from Davidoff! A great touch is that the box will often come with a removable ashtray. It’s designed in the same style with a rustic hand-painted finish. A branded metal plate in the centre allows you to remove ash without damaging it.
A 10-count cigar box costs around $150 whereas they’re individually priced around $16. Given the unique experience it offers, the pricing seems fair. As the box comes with an ashtray and knocks about a dollar off each cigar, it offers excellent value for money.
Finally, the Alma del Fuego is a great cigar for formal occasions despite the rustic appearance. It’s elegant and produces a rich bouquet of aromas. Indeed, it’s a great option for a late-night smoke in an exclusive club or at a black-tie event.
Otherwise, consider it for nighttime smoking either alone for quiet contemplation or when catching up with a close friend over a drink.
Plasencia Alma del Fuego Pairing Recommendations
As mentioned above, it’s a great nighttime cigar. Therefore, consider it as a possible digestif following a large meal. If that’s your choice, then it could easily follow (or even accompany) grilled ribeye steak. Alternatively, consider also a traditional roast dinner with all the trimmings. Both options would bring out both the meal and the cigar’s opulence and combine them.
You could also accompany it with dark chocolate in order to impart additional creaminess onto the palate.
As for beverages, it’s a toss-up between Islay and Highland single malt. If you enjoy peated and smoky whisky, Islay’s a great choice. However, be mindful that it can take something away from the cigar even if the Alma del Fuego tends to fare well against strong flavours.
Should you prefer to allow the cigar to express itself clearly, a Highland single malt would be a better option. Meanwhile, both an old añejo rum or fine-champagne cognac would be excellent pairings.
Finally, espresso would be my coffee of choice. Since it’s quite short, consider serving the coffee once at the nub. Therefore, it can help cleanse the palate and also allow you to drink one of the above suggestions with it first.
Opulent, seductive, and verbose, the Alma del Fuego lives up to its name quite well by expressing a bold yet nuanced character. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to be swept away to the volcanic islands of Nicaragua, it’s one worth sampling.
"A unique cigar that expresses itself in a rich and verbose way."
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