Joseph NicaVana Puro Cantata Rico Robusto Grande

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The 19th century maxim popularized by Edward Hickson was thundering in our ears when the opportunity to give one of Salamanca Cigar Group’s creations another test drive presented itself. After the not-so-great outing with our first Alan Fonseca blend, the Glandon Family Sir Leland Habano, we decided to pick something from his Joseph NicaVana menu: the Puro Cantata Rico. Our hope was that our initial foray into Alan Fonseca’s new lines last year was an anomaly.

While initially only presenting with a problematic draw, the Sir Leland’s very poor combustion resulted in frequent, sustained maintenance just to finish the cigar. Which was a shame because we felt the blend was not only flavorful and enjoyable, but boxworthy. The avoidable draw and combustion issues were due in large part to a poor roll from the factory and the confounding performance led to one of our rare “NR” (no recommendation) designations. We did, however, note that the construction faux pas was probably (hopefully) an anomaly.


Reviewing back-to-back Connies is a rarity at 99 Cigars, especially when one of them is an unheralded cigar with a short “paper trail.” First appearances, however, reveal an oily, walnut-colored skin that is seamless on which there are minimal veins. The cap is tidy and the solid feel of the cigar throughout its length is reassuring. Aromas afforded are nothing to write home about and in fact, the wrapper offered little more than a whiff of leather. Unlike our Sir Leland, the cold draw on this beefy robusto was nicely open, another sign that this shake down might have a happier ending.

The Connie treats me to a rich, bread crust draw preceding a tasty, well-balanced profile of toasted almonds, white pepper and candied nuts on the retro. The foundation is warm and toasty with a light chocolate mousse on the palate. A touch of cedar indicates woodier intonations ahead and the confectionery finish is a lush mix of chocolate and pastry. Transitions maintain a medium-bodied persona with some spice, but complexity dips as I note only dominant notes of molasses and oak with occasional hints of salted cashews. The finish, however, still delights the senses with sweet puffed rice and rich espresso.

The epilogue is disappointing as a pervasive malty, woodiness stymies what could have been a decent finish. Instead, there is little more than heavy earth and chocolate intonations that get hotter with every draw. The one bright spot is that it continues to provide a pleasant, enjoyable finish. Overall, the construction was near flawless except for portions of the wrapper which decided to come apart near the cap. Combustion, draw and smoke production are a 180 from our visit with Sir Leland, but ironically the Connie’s profiles were not as enjoyable. The price is a bit high for little more than a mediocre blend, but if they could combine the complexity and flavor palette of Sir Leland and meld it with the construction of Puro Cantata Rico, this would be a different conversation. – In Fumo Pax!

Recommendation: 5 Packer

Did you Know: Alan Fonseca co-founded Ezra Zion Cigars but left in 2013 to begin his new start-up, Salamanca Cigar Group.

  • Profile: Med-Full
  • Vitola: Robusto Grande
  • Length / Ring: 5.5″ X 55
  • Purchased: B&M
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper: Connecticut
  • Binder: Unknown
  • Filler: Unknown
  • Production: Plasencia (?)
  • Blade: Xikar Xi1
  • Fire: Colibri Firebird
  • Price:$10.12 [Box $151.80]
  • Humidor Age:  4.5 mo.
  • Box: 15
  • Other Vitolas: N/A


Smoke Time: 1:17
: Open
Construction: Beefy; solid throughout; minimal veins; seamless; oily; nice  cap;walnut color; excellent smoke producer; holds strong 1″ ash.

  • WrapperMuted leather
  • Foot – Chocolate cake
  • Cold Draw – Tangy raisins

Tasting Notes:

  • Initial: Rich, bread crust draw; notes of toasted almonds, white pepper, candied nuts on retro; toasty core; chocolate essence melts on palate; touch of cedar appears on retro; lush finish of chocolate and pastry.
  • Transition: Maintains medium body; robust and savory; woody core with dominant notes of oak, salted cashews and molasses on retro; spice on tongue; puffed rice and espresso notes on finish.
  • Transition: Malty overtones and woody; hints of chocolate and earth on retro; spice persists; getting hot with ~2″ remaining; maintains flavorful, toasty finish with notes of espresso.

Complexity: Very good
Balance: Very good
Touch upsN/A
Combustion: Excellent
Weaknesses: N/A
Recommendation: 5 Packer

Recommendation scale:

  1. Go-to
  2. Boxworthy
  3. 5 packer
  4. Yard ‘gar
  5. NR [No Recommendation]

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