Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez

A.J. Fernandez, Esteli, Nicaragua

300 Hands Maduro Corona Gorda

300 Hands Maduro Corona Gorda. It always surprised us that nobody had used that name before. Everybody in the industry knows that it takes approximately 300 pairs of hands from the seed to the finished cigar in the consumer’s hand. Cigar manufacturers emphasize that often, to show consumers what it takes to create a cigar. And to politicians to show how many families are at stake with their legislative decisions. But nobody used that name for a cigar until Southern Draw did. For two blends, a 300 Mano Habano and a 300 Hands Maduro blend.


In 2018, Southern Draw released this 300 Hands Maduro line. In five sizes, but we managed to get our hands on a Corona Gorda, size 5½x46. Now, truth is, we don’t know where we got his from or who gave it to us. All we know is that the cigars are made in Nicaragua. At Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez. And that the cigar is made with a Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper. The binder comes from Indonesia. The fillers are from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

The cigar looks rustic. A very dark wrapper with tooth. Leather looking, with some lighter colored veins. With a wet finger, we wiped the wrapper to see if it stained. If that was the case, the wrapper would be artificially colored, but no stains at all. The construction feels good. The simple band is nice. White with blue text. 300 Hands, but the nice detail is the serrated top and bottom. The barnyard aroma is strong. This cigar would stand out in a humidor, and we would pick one up to try.


The cold draw is good. And has a surprising flavor of mint and chocolate. Almost like the after eight chocolates. Once lit, there is coffee and pepper. But smooth and mild. There is leather, there is wood too with some citrus fruit. Slowly some complex bitterness of dark chocolate shows up. But it does hurt the back of the throat a little. The cigar then turns to warm spices with pepper and leather. The mouthfeel is thick, buttery. Some fruity acidity comes in play as well, like oranges. After a third, the cigar is all about coffee and that citrus. With pepper in the aftertaste. There is a little harshness in the back of the throat though. Halfway the cigar has a strong nutty flavor, with leather and pepper. In the final third, the pepper grows in strength. It also has wood, coffee, and citrus.


The draw is fantastic. And the ash is white, firm and dense. The burn is good. And the smoke, thick, white and plentiful. The cigar is balanced, smooth. It has character, but not a lot. And there’s a little harshness. The cigar is medium-full in body, medium in flavor. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I enjoyed it.

number91

Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Southern Draw, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez

Henk Maori Haka

Henk Maori Haka. For those that don’t know the luxury brand Henk, they make bespoke travel bags and accessories. All high quality, and personalized. And brand owner Heiko Poerz is an avid cigar smoker. His last creation that will hit the market soon is the travel humidor Henk Cigarbone. Poerz was lacking cigars that matched his palate, so he went out to create his own. And for that, he asked the help from Didier Houvenaghel and A.J. Fernandez. Houvenaghel is a Belgian agricultural engineer, who studied in Pinar del Rio amongst other places. And he took his knowledge to write a book, from Soil to Soul. That’s the most comprehensive book on tobacco out there. And he owns D.H. Boutique cigars.


Houvenaghel, Fernandez, and Poerz started blending. And together they created a blend that was exactly what Poerz wanted. An all Nicaraguan cigar in a 5⅗x56 size. It’s a regular production, but in low numbers due to the exclusivity. It’s available in a select number of countries. And every year, Henk releases a limited edition called the Henk Maori Masterpiece. Henk is a luxury brand, and when it comes to the price of this cigar, that shows. It’s right up there with Cohiba, Padron Family Reserve, and Opus X.

The cigar looks great. A milky chocolate-colored wrapper with a nice pigtail. But what catches the eye is the lack of a ring. Instead, the cigar has a tattoo, just like the first two Oliva Masterblend releases. It’s a round logo, with a Maori tribal design and the text Henk Maori Haka. The wrapper itself is leathery and mildly glossy. The construction feels good, and it’s a quite heavy cigar. A strong forest, straw and hay smell accompanies the cigar.


The cold draw is fantastic, with a strong peppery flavor. After lighting, it’s a pleasant coffee flavor instantly with nuts and toast. There are some spice, sweetness, leather and a very mild pepper flavor. All extremely balanced. Subtle, smooth. And the cigar stays smooth and balanced, yet flavorful with a growing black pepper. There’s also some soil after a centimeter. The flavors subtly evolve to more sweetness, with a hint of citrus. There’s also some wood. But it happens so gradually, that it’s an art. The mouthfeel is mild creamy. Halfway the cigar has more wood, oak to be precise. With more spices and still a great dose of pepper. The flavors are more pronounced now. There are roasted nuts, spices, pepper, leather, wood, and some hay. Still well balanced, smooth yet strong.

The draw is flawless. The light-colored ash is dense and firm. The burn is pretty straight. The cigar burns slowly as well, very gradually. The white smoke is thick and plentiful. This cigar is full-bodied and full-flavored. But so well balanced, that you don’t feel the strength. The smoke time is three hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? For a special occasion yes. I would pick this over any Cohiba, any day.
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Categories: 95, Henk, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez

Nicarao Especial 2015 Reserve Robusto

Nicarao Especial 2015 Reserve Robusto. A limited-edition from DH Boutique Cigars. Only 480 boxes of 21 cigars of the Nicarao Especial 2015 Reserve Robusto were released. They were spread over the 30+ countries where the cigars from Didier Houvenaghel are being distributed. The cigars aren’t available in the United States.


This cigar is made with all Nicaraguan tobacco. The wrapper comes from Jalapa, and it’s a rosado wrapper. That’s all the details we could find on this cigar. The size is 5 inches long with a ring of 52. This cigar was given to Ministry of Cigars by Houvenaghel during a get together with an Indonesian cigar manufacturer and Marc Benden from Cigarworld Dusseldorf.


The wrapper is smooth, soft, silky and reddish-brown. It looks really tasty. The ring is nice, green with black volcanos honoring Nicaragua. The yellow of the Nicarao brand name pops up. And that Houvenaghel didn’t copy the Habanos limited edition ring is a plus too. The shape of the cigar is great with a perfectly round head. The aroma is medium strong, wood, barnyard and something spicy.


The cold draw is fantastic, and it’s spicy. The cigar starts rough and powerful, with coffee, spices, and pepper. The bitterness is pleasant yet strong. After a few puffs, there is a clear cinnamon flavor. There is a unique sweetness too, like old candy. The flavors become richer, with wood, earthiness, coffee, spices, pepper, and sweetness. Rich yet smooth, so the cigar is easy to retrohale. The sweetness becomes stronger and leather shows up. There are some hay, toast, and spices. The second third starts with walnuts, pepper, and sweetness. The mouthfeel is dry. The flavors evolve. The main flavors are cocoa, leather, wood, and pepper. In the final third, there’s pepper, leather, cinnamon, nutmeg, and wood.


The draw is fantastic. The ash is white and dense. It isn’t firm though. The smoke is thick and white. The burn is straight. This cigar is complex, rich, yet smooth and balanced. The smoke time is an hour and thirty minutes

would I buy this cigar again? Yes

number93

Categories: 93, Nicaraguan cigars, Nicarao, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez

A.J. Fernandez New World Cameroon Churchill

I love Cameroon wrapper, that is my favorite wrapper in the world. And I love all cigars made by A.J. Fernandez. So when I heard that Fernandez was releasing a new cigar with a Cameroon wrapper, I was over the moon. Unfortunately, it took some time for them to reach Europe. And by that time, I had left Europe.

I was happy to see the cigars pop up at the webshop of a Malaysian cigar shop. I decided to drop a few dollars on this cigar. The price was a little higher than what I would pay in Europe or America, but I figured it would be worth it. And I know that the Malaysian tobacco tax is high, so I wasn’t being ripped off by the shop. They charged a fair price and carried some more rare cigars. Time to light this Nicaraguan filler, Nicaraguan binder and Cameroon wrapped 7×48 Churchill.


Let’s start with the ring. It is the regular New World ring with the classic artwork of boats arriving into the new world. The outside of the rings is green, instead of red that’s used on the regular New World line. And green fits, when I think of Africa, I think of green. The secondary ring is gold with green, and red letters. It fits the theme. The wrapper has a nice even color, it doesn’t look as rough and brittle as most Cameroon wrappers, it’s quite pretty actually. The construction feels flawless. The cigar has a dry aroma, dried wood, a little charcoal, those kinds of smells.

The cold draw is perfect. The flavor of the cold draw is plain and pure raw, well fermented, tobacco. After lighting, I taste some licorice, tobacco, and leather. Then the signature Cameroon spice joins green herbs and spices. That comes with coffee and pepper. There’s still some wood too, softwood like pine. And then I also taste some hay, with a mildly creamy mouthfeel. After a third, it is all spices and green herbs, with some citrus and sweetness. The mouthfeel turned to dry. The strength in body and flavor is medium so far. The sweetness reminds me of milk chocolate. In the final third, I pick up some pepper again with oak, spices, herbs and roasted coffee. Suddenly the pepper picks up and becomes the dominant flavor. I was waiting for that to happen. Near the end, I taste licorice through the pepper again, making the flavors go full circle

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The draw is perfect. The light-colored ash is coarse though. The burn is flawless and the smoke is thick. This cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored. It has that typical Cameroon spice and herb profile which I love. The smoke time is two hours and twenty-five minutes

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, once in a while

number91

Categories: 91, New World, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , ,

Graycliff G2 Toro

Graycliff, I always thought they were made on the Bahamas but I was wrong. Some are made on the Bahamas indeed, but it turns out some are made in Nicaragua too. I think, but I am not sure, that these are made by A.J. Fernandez. Well, it doesn’t matter, all that matters is: is it any good?


I got this cigar from a Dutch friend, since the brand isn’t available on the European market it’s a mystery to me where he got them as he has never been to the USA or the Bahamas, yet he shared this Nicaraguan made cigar with me. The filler is Dominican and Nicaraguan, the wrapper is an Ecuadorian Connecticut.


The wrapper is quite dark for a Connecticut Shade cigar with a few very clear and relatively thick veins. The bright yellow ring has 5 black stars, the Graycliff G and a 2. Those two things combined wouldn’t make me grab the cigar in a store humidor. The construction feels good though, the shape of the cigar is fine. The aroma is quite like hay, grass and straw.


I used a plastic cutter to take off the cap. The cold draw is great with a mild salty flavor. After lighting the salt remains with some spices. The flavor doesn’t change much. After a third the cigar gets a little rough. The flavors are still salty and mild, but have a little mean edge. The cigar also gets more grassy and green in flavor, like green leaves. Near the end I taste a pleasant oak flavor.


The draw is great. The light gray ash is bending to the left. The burn is decent, it’s not straight but not so bad that I had to correct it. The smoke is quit thick. The cigar, with a smoke time of an hour and fifteen minutes, is mild in body, flavor and evolution.

Would I buy this cigar again? This cigar doesn’t do it for me.

Score: 85
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Categories: 85, Graycliff, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , ,

Manowar Anthology Sampler: Puro Authentico Maduro

Yesterday I wrote about the Man O’ War Puro Authentico Habano Ligero and the same story goes for the maduro. Originally a personal blend for A.J. Fernandez who released the cigars commercially after years of begging from Meier & Dutch.


The blend consists of the same tobacco as the natural, yet with another wrapper. Instead of using a Nicaraguan Habano ligero A.J. Fernandez chose a Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro to wrap around the Nicaraguan Habano binder and the Nicaraguan Habano ligero filler for this 5×44 corona.


The wrapper is dark, almost black, dry and a little rough. The ring is simple, just a glossy black with the silhouette of the Man O’ War mask. I love closed foots and a pigtail, so this cigar fits right up my alley. The aroma is medium strong, like dark chocolate in a farm field.


After cutting the cigar I try the cold draw. Surprisingly it’s good, even with the closed foot. I taste a little sweetness and a lot of spice. After lighting I taste a sweet earthy leather flavor. Soon I taste spice and pepper. After an inch I taste sweetness and pepper. Slowly the sweetness disappears while the pepper gets stronger and an earthy flavor shows up too.


The draw is great. The smoke is medium thick, beautiful white of color. The ash is white too. The burn is great. The cigar is strong, full bodied yet medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Meh

Score: 89

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Categories: 89, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Manowar Anthology Sampler: Puro Authentico Ligero

The Puro Authentico from the Man O’ War series were actually created as a personal blend for A.J. Fernandez and it took Meier & Dutch three years to convince A.J. to release these small cigars, a 5×44 corona, commercially. Both the natural, which I’m reviewing today, and the maduro, which will be reviewed tomorrow, are for sale nowadays in ten count boxes.


The natural version of the Man O’ War Puro Authentico Corona is made from Nicaraguan Habano ligero filler with a Nicaraguan Habano binder. The blend is the same as the maduro version, the difference is in the wrapper, which in this case is a Nicaraguan Habano ligero.


The oily wrapper is dark, if someone gave me this cigar and said it was the maduro version, I would have believed it. Only when I put it next to the maduro I see a slight difference. The ring is different from the other Man O’ War cigars, just a small glossy black ring with a golden silhouette of the Man O’ War mask. The cigar comes with a closed foot and a small pigtail, so that’s a plus. I smell a mild, peppery chocolate aroma.


The cold draw is non existing because of the closed foot. I taste chocolate and marzipan. After lighting I taste espresso, strong, bold espresso. After a few puffs I taste sugar. After an inch I taste an earthy flavor, coffee and wood. After a third some cinnamon joins the flavors. Halfway it’s earthy, with a little sugar and quite some pepper. Near the end it’s just earthy and peppery.


The draw is good, the medium thick smoke is white. The ash is dark, it’s not firm. The burn is great. The cigar is medium flavored, full bodied. Even though it’s a thin cigar and not too long, the smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? They come in the sampler, I want a few samplers so yeah.

Score: 89
number89

Categories: 89, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , ,

Manowar Anthology Sampler: Side Project 52C

I’m guessing the C in the name stands for Chisel, although brand owner Meier & Dutch talkes about a wedge, and the 52 refers to the ring gauge. Maybe they cannot use the name chisel because it’s trademarked by La Flor Dominicana, who invented the shape and to my knowledge even have the patent to the shape.


The cigar, a 5×52 figured, is made with Nicaraguan Habano and ligero tobacco in the filler, a Nicaraguan Habano under and Ecuadorian Habano ligero as a wrapper. It was released together with the Little Devil and the Phalanx in march of 2012.


The wrapper looks smoother than the other side projects, less dry with more oil. It also looks like the head is a lighter shade than the foot. The shape is great and the cigar is well finished, the rings fit the wrapper.  The medium barnyard aroma is quite pleasant.


I cut a little slice of the chisel like cigar. The cold draw is a little tight, with a spicy raw tobacco aroma. After lighting the cigar is earthy with coffee and leather. After a centimeter I taste love licorice with some sweetness. The flavors change to earthy with cumin, burner and a little cinnamon like spices. The flavors are mellow and balanced. Halfway I’m getting a very unsuspected and unusual flavor that reminds me most of thick potato chips. That flavor disappears quickly and I taste pepper and sweetness. The final third is herbal and spicy with powdered sugar.


The draw is good. The white smoke is medium thick and full. The light colored ash is firm. The burn is straight. The cigar is full flavored and full bodied. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes I will.

Score: 92
number92

Categories: 92, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , ,

Manowar Anthology Sampler: Side Project Little Devil

Released in march of 2012, almost four years after the birth of the Man O’ War base line and together with the Phalanx and 52C was this Little Devil. The cigar, I would consider it a corona, measures 5 1/2×44 and with that it’s the thinnest of the side projects. As a fan of thinner cigars, I’m looking forward to reviewing this, it’s one of the few Man O’ War cigars I haven’t smoked yet.


The cigar is made from extra fermented sun grown Habano tobacco from Ecuador as a wrapper, an Habano binder from Nicaragua and as filler A.J. Fernandez came up with an Habano ligero from Nicaragua and ligero from Honduras.


The wrapper is clearly sun grown, you can see that from the leathery look, the veins and the tooth. The ring is great, the regular ring with the classic side projects ring. I love the closed foot and the tiny pigtail. The cigar just feels good. I smell a mild barnyard aroma.


After cutting the cigar I find a great cold draw. I taste a mild sour and peppery aroma. After lighting I taste powdered sugar, coffee and some lime. After an inch I taste lime and pepper with an earthy base flavor. Halfway I get that powdered sugar flavor again and the pepper changed from black pepper to a strong spicy red chili. The final third has done cedar, a mild sweetness, earthiness and pepper.


The draw is great and the white smoke is thick and luscious like a beautiful curvy woman. The salt and pepper colored ash is flaky though. The burn is pretty good. The cigars is full bodied, full flavored. The smoke time is an hour in twenty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

Score: 92
number92

Categories: 92, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , ,

Manowar Anthology Sampler: Side Project Skull Crusher

One of the four side projects, next to the Phalanx, 52C and the Little Devil, yet the Skull Crusher was the latest to be released. Where the others saw daylight in march of 2012, this Skull Crusher was born on january 2013. I have smoked a few before and this is my favorite ‘after BBQ’ cigar, because it’s so strong and full flavored you can still taste the cigar even after all the spicy BBQ food and sauce.


The cigar, which is a figurado, 5 3/4×56 and ‘club shaped’ according to Meier & Dutch. I would call it a perfecto, but that’s just me. The cigar is packed with ligero tobacco, Nicaraguan in the filler and an Honduran Habano ligero as binder. The wrapper is Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro.


First of all, I love the shape, it reminds me a bit of a feral flying pig, yet a tad less fat and without the pigtail. The dry leathery toothy wrapper has a nice dark soil color with a few veins. The secondary ring, black with gray and golden letters, fits the regular Man O’ War ring. The cigar has the aroma of dark chocolate.


I cut the cigar, the tobacco is a bit salty. There is no cold draw because of the glued closed foot. It takes a few puffs to get passed the closed foot and get a draw. I taste some sweetness, a mild vinegar and some cedar with a hint of pepper. After a quarter of an inch I taste honey with cedar. An inch in I taste a little honey, oak and cedar plus a growing pepper. After a third pepper is the main flavor, with cedar and honey on the background. The changes are now subtle, the wood, honey and pepper constantly change in strength.


After the first quarter of an inch the draw is fantastic. The smoke is white, thick and full. The salt and pepper colored ash is dense and firm. The burn is straight. The evolution of this full bodied full flavored cigar is good. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes! Yes! Perfect as an after (vegetarian) barbecue smoke.

Score: 94
number94

Categories: 94, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , ,

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