Enjoy this fine Cuban brand, legally! OK, OK, so calling this a "Cuban brand" may be a tad misleading, but technically, it's the truth—and our lawyers will support us on this—we checked it out. Here's the skinny. Fonseca was originally made in Cuba, and still is (making it a Cuban brand, no?) but for years it has also been hand-rolled by Manolo Quesada in the Dominican Republic. Quesada's great-great grandfather started brokering tobacco leaf in Cuba in the 1880s and, four generations later, Manufactures de Tobacos S. A. (MATASA) produces some of the finest cigars in the world: Fonseca, Romeo and Julieta, Licenciados, Sosa, Casa Blanca, and Jose Benito, among them. From the mid-1880s until 1960, Quesada's great-grandfather, grandfather, father and several generations of uncles brokered tobacco out of Havana and sold it around the world. In the 1930s, one uncle started to buy and resell Dominican tobacco, creating a permanent family foothold on the island of Hispaniola.
By the time Castro came to power, Sobrinos de A. Gonzales (the company founded by Quesada's great-great-grandfather) and Constantino Gonzales (founded by a great-uncle) were the largest tobacco brokers in the world. In April 1960, Quesada's family was forced out of business by the Castro government. So while these cigars are still being made in Cuba, the family that created them has been making them in the Dominican Republic for nearly 50 years now. The Fonseca Vintage Robusto we've sent you consists of Dominican long-filler tobaccos that are aged five years in Tercio bales. Tercio aging is an old-world process (Cuba being the "old world") of packing tobacco in palm bark bales instead of the usual burlap bales. Needless to say Tercio aging is very time consuming and expensive, but this aging process allows the tobacco to retain more of its natural flavor and aroma. Combine this tobacco with a flawless Connecticut-seed, Ecuadorian grown wrapper, and you have an exquisite stick that's mild and smooth with light cedar notes. It opens up on the palate with straightforward natural tobacco flavor and a rich creaminess that's unusual for a Dominican. Grab yourself a good port. We suggest a fitting Portuguese port coincidentally carrying the same name as our cigar here, Fonseca Port.