Nestor Plasencia and his family may have burst onto the mainstream cigar scene in a big way with their Alma line of cigars in the past few years, but they've been making some of your favorite cigars for decades. Nestor owns more land than any other tobacco farmer in the world, so there's probably some Plasencia tobacco in just about all the cigars you love. But he's also made over 30 million cigars a year for the past thirty years as a contract blender for the hottest brands of the cigar boom of the 1990s. Did you know that both Rocky Patel and Alec Bradley got their start working with Nestor Plasencia? His expertise and premium tobaccos launched both brands to worldwide fame and several of their greatest hits are still made by Plasencia to this day. And while those brands are inextricably linked with the Plasencia family, Nestor's made plenty of blends for your other favorite brands as well. Here are five of his biggest hits, rolled for other brands:
Rocky Patel DecadeYep, hold onto your seats ladies and gentlemen because Nestor Plasencia is the man you have to thank for many of your most beloved RP releases. Connecticut, Sun Grown, The Edge... but the best stick he's crafted for Rocky Patel has to be the Decade. Newer RP releases are made in his new factory Esteli and have been met with increasing acclaim, but the Decade is one of the sticks that made Rocky Patel the household name he is today. It was the first RP cigar to make into Cigar Aficionado's Top 25 list and it's still one of the best deals around. The Decade was first released in 2005 to celebrate Rocky Patel's tenth year in business. And as a fitting tribute to Rocky Patel's meteoric rise to cigar stardom, it doesn't break from the Rocky Patel formula – it perfects it. Medium-bodied, balanced, earthy, and delicious, it's everything you expect from Rocky Patel, taken to the next level. While the Nicaraguan binder and long-fillers from the Plasencia plantations provide an earthy and spicy backdrop, Nestor and Rocky opted for a gorgeous dark-brown Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper as the star of the show. The wrapper brings lush, creamy black cherry, sweet spice, and dark chocolate to the palate which is balanced out and carried along by the espresso, earth, and pepper from the Nicaraguan tobaccos. It's the perfect stick for kicking back with some friends and a glass of the good stuff, whether it's at a lounge or in the backyard.
Alec Bradley Nica PuroBoutique brand Alec Bradley has had a lot of hits, many of which were blended by Nestor Plasencia – including the ever-popular Black Market. But no Alec Bradley cigar represents Nestor's skill as a blender better than the Nica Puro, the brand's first-ever Nicaraguan Puro and a cigar brimming with premium Plasencia tobacco. Perhaps what stands out most about the Nica Puro is its surprising lack of spice. Nicaragua has become the darling of the cigar world thanks to pepper-heavy blends by the likes of Jose and Jaime Garcia, AJ Fernandez, and even Jose Padron. But the Nica Puro shows off the other strengths of Nicaraguan tobacco – in a style that only a true master blender and grower, with plantations in every region of Nicaragua, could pull off. Cocoa is king in the Nica Puro, leading the palate from the first puff to the last. The cocoa is joined by creamy waves of roasted nuts, perhaps the most distinctive flavor from the Nica Puro and one that makes it simply delicious. Leather, potent cedar, nutmeg, and cinnamon also play significant supporting roles. Black pepper is almost entirely absent but there is just enough white pepper to remind you that you're smoking a Nicaraguan puro. Creamy and rich, the Nica Puro is a delightful medium-bodied release by Alec Bradley and one of Nestor Plasencia's best contract blends.
Gurkha Avenger G5Gurkha is often called the Rolls Royce of cigars. They make some of the most expensive sticks in the business, including the $750 His Majesty's Reserve, $1150 Black Dragon, and $1,000,000 Royal Courtesan. No, you're not going crazy, we just said that Gurkha makes a one-million-dollar cigar. Only for those who literally have money to burn, of course. We find it hard to believe that those cigars are worth their price tags, or are much more than a marketing ploy. But founder Kaizad Hansotia also releases some of the tastiest and most popular cigars around at more affordable, if still a bit steep, price tags. Sticks like the ever-popular Beauty, Beast, Evil, Genghis Khan, and Cellar Reserve. Word must have gotten out about Nestor Plasencia's skill with a Nicaraguan Puro because Kaizad approached him to craft a Puro release to join the ranks of Gurkha super-premiums. Some people wonder whether Gurkha is more flash than substance, but we're here to tell you that the Avenger G5 is all substance, thanks to Nestor's immense talents as a blender. The palate is a meaty feast of hickory, oak, espresso, cinnamon, cedar, and lingering cocoa. As with most Gurkhas, the draw is nice and open, allowing you to produce impressive amounts of flavorful smoke. And with its creamy, medium-bodied palate, you'll enjoy every puff.
5 Vegas GoldThe 5 Vegas Gold proves that Nestor Plasencia is the most versatile blender in the business. The trend these days is to measure blenders by how potent and full-bodied they can make their cigars – but Nestor knows better. After decades of producing millions of cigars annually, he knows his craft and can make cigars to fit every palate. And the silky, mild-medium 5 Vegas Gold is the holy grail for fans of mild cigars and the perfect gateway stick for full-bodied fanatics to try out the world of Connecticut Shade wrappers. The satin-smooth Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper is simply mouthwatering, while the 5-year-old long-fillers deliver smooth complexity throughout the smoke. The palate is interesting but inarguably Connecticut Shade: creamy nuts predominate, particularly almond, with a welcome amount of pepper and cedar. The razor-sharp burn line is a testament to the well-aged long-fillers and is perfect for a no-fuss, relaxing smoke.
Cuba Libre OneFrom the mild 5 Vegas Gold, we now pivot to the relentlessly powerful Cuba Libre One. This masterpiece took Nestor Plasencia two years to perfect. The medium-bodied, 8-month aged Cuba Libre won the hearts of smokers around the globe and Nestor knew he had to do something special for the sequel. And the world has spoken: the Cuba Libre One is one of the most flavorful sticks on the market at any price, and at its budget price tag it's a must-have for any smoker. Based on appearances alone, the "Cuba Libre" One is gorgeous. A dark Jamastran wrapper the color of well-oiled leather under a black-and-white band... it screams reliability and strength. And what strength it is. Under the Jamastran wrapper is a pure Ligero long-filler blend of Cuban-seed Esteli and Condega tobaccos and Honduran Ligeros held together by two binders, a Jalapan Habano and intense Costa Rican leaf. This potent blend means that the Cuba Libre One delivers a full-flavored, complex palate right out of the gate. Super-strong cocoa paired with spicy red pepper makes for a heady start to the smoke. The cigar gains sweetness as you smoke as the cocoa gets even more intense and is joined by creamy coffee and honey. The red pepper lingers in the background, keeping things interesting but letting the earthy sweetness run the show until you get halfway through the smoke. Then the spice starts ramping up and the sweetness recedes into a rich earthiness that pairs wonderfully with the pepper. One of Plasencia's best, hands down.