Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez

A.J. Fernandez, Esteli, Nicaragua

Nicoya Fuerte Robusto

In January I wrote a review about a new brand, Nicoya, and I smoked the Nicoya Medio, the milder of the two lines that the Australian entrepreneur and cigar aficionado Gerard Hayes has made by A.J. Fernandez in the Fernandez factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. As for the name, as I wrote back in January, according to Hayes the name is chosen to praise the Nicaraguans yet there are others that claim that Nicaraguans aren’t called Nicoya but it’s a piece of Costa Rica that used to be Nicaraguan. As I said back then, I’m not an expert and not knowledgable enough to pick sides so I’m just gonna leave it there.


The Nicoya Fuerte only comes in one size 5×52 that Hayes picked because its the most popular size when it comes to sales and it can be smoked is a reasonable time. The filler is all Nicaraguan while the binder and wrapper are Ecuadorean habano, or Sun Grown as we call that in Europe since the Cubans were able toe trademark “habano” and “cuba” even though international laws clearly state you can’t trademark a country. As I take the cigar out of the cellophane I smell a very strong barnyard aroma with some ammonia. The wrapper, that is dark like dark oak feels very silky. The construction feels good with a beautifully rounded single cap. The ring is amazing, very simple, 2 smaller and one bigger purple circle with a white N in the middle circle and white lions in the smaller circles and white lettering Nicoya Cigars Esteli Nicaragua on the silver borders. The back of the ring are wing shaped and thats a nice detail.


I punched the cigar, the ring gauge is 52 so big enough to punch. The cold draw is surprisingly easy and has a little raisin and a lot of pepper. After I used my trusted Ronson to light the cigar I taste a strong coffee with pepper. After a centimeter I taste coffee, less strong as in the beginning, with some leather, spice and a little citrus. After an inch I also taste cocoa and the pepper is back full force. The citrus gained more strength. Halfway it’s leather, cedar, pepper and now a mild citrus mix of flavors. Soon after I taste dark chocolate, like the 72% dark chocolate and the pepper is habanero. Every now and then I also taste hints of vanilla. The finish is a solid coffee again, more towards espresso to be precise.


The smoke is amazing, so thick, so full and so much, the maximum amount of points there and my air cleaner is working overtime. The draw is great, just a tiny bit loose. The ash is light gray and firm, it’s dense too. The burn is good, not perfect but also not touch ups needed. This cigar is full bodied, no question about that, and full flavored. The flavors also linger around for a long time. The smoke time is a solid hour and a half.


Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, although the Nicoya Medios is a bit more balanced. This is an after barbecue cigar.

Score: 91

91

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Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Nicoya, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nicoya Medios Robusto

At the intertabac trade show in Dortmund Germany back in 2015 I met an Australian gentleman by the name of Gerard Hayes while hanging out at the A.J. Fernandez booth and almost a year later I see both names pop up again, this time with Gerard’s name as brand owner of the new brand Nicoya and A.J. Fernandez as his manufacturer. It turned out that Gerard had founded this new brand, and as far as I know the only Australian cigar brand, even though the name Nicoya pays tribute to the Nicaraguan people who use it as slang to refer to their origin although other sources say the word Nicoya refers to the peninsula in Costa Rica that once belonged to Nicaragua and that the Nicaraguan people use the word Nicoya for land and territory that was stolen from them. Now, even though I visited Nicaragua twice and love the country I don’t know enough about the culture, the people and the history to tell which explanation is the right one, so you decide for yourself ok?


Nicoya is quite simple in setup, just two blends, the medium bodied medios (also referred to as Nicoya Red) and the fuerte aka Nicoya Purple and both just in one size, a 5×52 robusto. I met up with Gerard again at his booth at intertabac 2016 and had the pleasure to smoke both cigars. I was looking forward to that since A.J. Fernandez makes some of my favorite cigars and the cigars didn’t disappoint. Luckily Gerard gave me an extra set of cigars so I can do this review. Unfortunately I can’t show pictures of the boxes but they were so classy I wouldn’t mind making a table out of empty Nicoya boxes.


The Nicoya Medios robusto that I’m smoking now for this review is made with an Ecuadorean Habano Rosado wrapper, a Mexican binder and fillers from Jalapa, Esteli, Ometepe and some Dominican Habano 2000. The cigar has a nice, simple yet tasteful band, silver and red and the back of the bands are like wings, which is a nice detail. The wrapper is a little dull, but not in a way I would pass it in a humidor. The veins are thin and the head of the cigar is a bit bumpy. The construction feels good, evenly filled everywhere. The aroma is very pleasant, deep and rich, earthy and like being close to a horse. I punched the cigar, the cold draw is just fine and leaves a spicy flavor on my tongue with some raisin.


I grabbed my vintage Ronson again to light this cigar, my favorite way to light a cigar inside (outside a jet flame is a better choice). Lighting is a breeze, and I taste a nice medium coffee flavor. The coffee is getting stronger with a little citrus. The flavors are quite sharp. After a centimeter i taste wood and a growing citrus.

After a third I also taste some sweetness with the wood and the citrus is almost completely gone. I also taste some mild herbs. The flavors are well balanced. After two thirds I finally taste a little bit of pepper but with a sweetness that makes it very pleasurable combined with the wood.


The ash is white and firm and the draw is flawless. The smoke is reasonably thick and white, I also get a nice amount of smoke from the cigar. The burn is quite straight, not razor sharp but not still not enough to correct. The cigar is medium bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is about an hour and thirty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes! It’s a great stick, Gerard and Abdel hit a homerun.

Score: 91

91

Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Nicoya, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

San Lotano Habano Robusto

This is an old review that somehow never got posted when it should have been uploaded.

I was in Florida and at Corona Cigar Company in Orlando I saw these San Lotano Habano Robusto by A.J. Fernandez and the cigars were brand new back them so I picked up a few 5×54 cellophane wrapped cigars.
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The wrapper has the color of milk chocolate with a few big veins. The wrapper feels silky and the construction feels good. The double ring looks great. The cigar has a strong hay aroma. The cold draw is good and I taste raising and pepper.
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I taste a soft coffee with a musty wood. The cigar gets spicy and peppery pretty quickly. The mustiness disappears and I taste some sweetness with a citrus aftertaste.
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After a centimeter I taste cedar with some chocolate. The flavors are creamy yet spicy. After a third I taste spices with wood, hay and a mild citrus. Halfway I taste cinnamon with pepper, the flavors are well balanced. After two thirds I taste wood with some cinnamon.
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The cigar lasted me an hour and forty minutes. The draw is good but the burn is not perfect. The smoke started thin but it got thicker along the way. The light colored ash is firm. This cigar is full flavored and full bodied.
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Would I buy this cigar again? Not boxes but singles.

Appearance: 6
Construction: 8
Draw: 8
Burn: 8
Smoke & ash: 7
Aroma first part: 7
Aroma second part: 8
Aroma third part: 8

Categories: Nicaraguan cigars, San Lotano, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

San Lotano Maduro Robusto

This is an old review that somehow never got posted when it should have been uploaded.

I bought this 5×52 San Lotano Maduro robusto before they were introduced to The Netherlands, so it must have been right after they came to the American market.
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The smooth, dark and oily wrapper looks great and the ring is nice. I smell hay and the cold draw is easy with flavors of raisin and pepper.
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I taste a full coffee flavor, mild spicy with some citrus on the background and pepper in the aftertaste. After two centimeter I taste cinnamon with wood, herbs and pepper, the coffee and citrus are gone.
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Halfway I taste wood with herbs, spices and pepper. Green herbs with wood, nice and spicy. After two thirds its more cinnamon and nutmeg, herbs, pepper and wood.
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This cigar lasted me an hour and twenty minutes. The draw was great and I got a lot of thick smoke. The pepper and salt colored ash is not too firm. The burn is great. I would call this cigar full flavored and full bodied.
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Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, I loved this cigar

Appearance: 8
Construction: 8
Draw: 8
Burn: 7
Smoke & ash: 8
Aroma first part: 8
Aroma second part: 8
Aroma third part: 8

Categories: Nicaraguan cigars, San Lotano, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Diesel Grind Robusto

The Diesel Grind is a spin-off from the famous Diesel Unholy Cocktail and comes from the same factory, tabacalera Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua. Alex Svensson of Maier & Dutch, the owners of the Diesel brand, gave me this cigar as a sampler. Unlike the Diesel Unholy Cocktail and the Diesel Unlimited, which you only find online, the grind will only be found in brick & mortar locations.
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The cigar consists of an Ecuador Habano oscuro sun crown wrapper, a Habano binder from Honduras and filler from Nicaragua and Honduras. The cigar measures 6×50, as a proper toro should be. The dark wrapper has a mild shine to it and not a lot of veins, the cigar has a simple footband with the recognizable Diesel logo. The aroma is quite pungent and reminds me of a barnyard. The construction feels good, no weak spots, consistent. The predraw is very spicy on the lips and I get enough resistance, no complaints at all.
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A strong pepper and wood combo straight from the start. But the pepper fades away and changes into a spicy herbal taste. After a centimeter and a half I taste a metallic flavor with herbs and wood, it’s not unpleasant. Soon after its a full oak flavor with a metallic aftertaste and some refined sugar sweetness.
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After a third it’s a nice dry wood flavor with pepper and sugar. The pepper fades away again and the wood with sugar combination is very enjoyable. Halfway the cigar gets spicy again, with pepper on the tip of my tongue while I taste sugar in the rest of my mouth. I also taste a little nutmeg. After two thirds the sugar disappeared and its pepper and herbs all along with a woody aftertaste.
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The draw is great and I get a lot of beautiful white smoke. The ash is gray with some black flakes and isn’t very firm. After an centimeter and a half the wrapper cracks, but it doesn’t continue to rip over the whole length so it’s not a problem. The burn is great, slow and straight as an arrow. This full flavored, full bodied cigar gave me over two hours of smoking pleasure.
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Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, it’s not as bold as the unholy cocktail, which is one of my favorite cigars, and more refined but it’s still worth getting a box, or several boxes.

Appearance: 8
Construction: 8
Draw: 9
Burn: 9
Smoke & ash: 8
Aroma first part: 8
Aroma second part: 8
Aroma third part: 9

Categories: Diesel, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Enclave Robusto

At the intertabac trade show, Kris from A.J. Fernandez cigars gave me an enclave robusto and an enclave figurado. I smoked the figurado right there and then and liked it a lot. I decided to save the robusto for a review.
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What makes this cigar pop is the closed foot and the beautiful artwork, the beautifully rounded head and the nice color of the wrapper. The cigar has a manure smell to it. The construction feels good, no soft spots. The peppery predraw is great.
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I love closed foots, I slowly light them with my trustworthy Classic ronson and love to watch how that tobacco reacts to the heat. Pepper, lots of pepper, that’s what I get from the start. After a few puffs the pepper tones down and I taste a bit of metallic flavor with wood, some sweetness and a nice amount of pepper. The metallic woody peppery flavor sticks around with some green herbs
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After a third I taste more wood, the metallic flavor is gone. There’s still a nice amount of pepper. The pepper is growing stronger, and after two third I also taste some salmiac. The salmiac is gone just as sudden as it shows up. It’s pepper with wood and a little bit of salt.
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The draw is great. The light and dark ash isn’t pretty but the smoke is good, just thick enough and I get enough smoke too. The burn is good, a little bit crooked but not enough to complain. This cigar lasted me for 100 minutes.
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Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, it’s a very nice cigar.

Appearance: 8
Construction: 8
Draw: 9
Burn: 8
Smoke & ash: 7
Aroma first part: 8
Aroma second part: 8
Aroma third part: 8

Categories: Enclave, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Manowar Side Project Phalanx

This is another A.J. Fernandez made cigar for Maier & Dutch in the beautiful factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. I had the opportunity to visit the factory and I was impressed by the sheer size of the facility. Like the name says, it’s a side project from the successful Manowar cigar series. I got this one from the Manowar sampler and the previous side project from that sampler blew me away so I have high expectations.
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The cigar is big and dark, it looks like it’s not for the faint of hearted. I feel a dent behind the band, but the construction feels good otherwise. The dark wrapper is smooth and oily. The cigar has a nice aroma, a mixture of dark chocolate and barnyard. The predraw is fine, I taste raisin and then loads of pepper in the aftertaste.
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I taste coffee with some chocolate bitterness and sweetness while there is a little bit of pepper in the aftertaste. After half an inch it’s like 65% dark chocolate with a little bit of citrus and some wood. The pepper in the aftertaste is growing in strength. After two centimeter I taste spices, pepper, sweetness and a little bit of that chocolate bitterness.
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After a third it’s spicy wet wood, lots of pepper and some sweetness. The acidity returns with that mild chocolate bitterness. The pepper isn’t that strong anymore, but it returns. This cigar is pretty dynamic. The chocolate like bitterness mellows out and gains strength all the time, it’s like a roller coaster in strength. The pepper throws punches.
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The draw is fantastic and the smoke is ok, a good amount of smoke but not thick enough to be great. The ash is light but firm. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored. The burn is great. The cigar lasted me well over 2 hours.
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Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, but I’ll buy the skull crusher more often.

Appearance: 9
Construction: 9
Draw: 9
Burn: 8
Smoke & ash: 7
Aroma first part: 8
Aroma second part: 8
Aroma third part: 8

Categories: Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Man’o’war side project Skull Crusher

Yeah, another ‘skull’ cigar, a movement started with the Skull & Bones from Viaje, followed by the Surrogates Skull Breaker and now this Manowar Side Project Skull Crusher. Like all Manowar cigars these are made by A.J. Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua exclusively for Maier & Dutch, the wholesaler affiliated with cigars international.
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This perfecto with a closed food and closed head looks rugged and rustic with a dark leathery wrapper but it fits the name of the cigar. I like it to be honest. The construction feels good and the cigar has an earthy aroma you find on some barnyards. With a closed foot it’s impossible to predraw, so I didn’t even bother to try.
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I taste espresso, quite spicy and strong as you would expect from a cigar with this name. After a few puffs it’s mainly pepper with toast but still some coffee on the background. The flavors then slowly change to oak, plenty of pepper and some lemon on the background. After an inch it’s mostly pepper with lemon in the aftertaste, it’s a good old fashioned pepper bomb.
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After a third I get some oak flavors again, the pepper is still leading even though it toned down a bit. A few puffs further i also taste a bit of nutmeg. Halfway I taste a little bit of sugar too, very faint though. The pepper gets accompanied with a nice spice mix of nutmeg, cinnamon and more of these kind of spices, with that sweet and sour lemon as the aftertaste. Near the end the pepper gets stronger, like a hot habanero pepper or a madam Jeanette from Surinam.
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The draw is fine, especially considering the vitola. The smoke is thick and plentiful. At the beginning I had some burn issues, but that might be the vitola because afterward the burn was good. The ash is light gray and firm. The cigar lasted me for an hour and a half.
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Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, most certainly. This is the perfect post barbecue cigar.

Appearance: 8
Construction: 9
Draw: 9
Burn: 7
Smoke & ash: 8
Aroma first part: 8
Aroma second part: 8
Aroma third part: 9

Categories: Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Ave Maria Knights Templar

Another A.J. Fernandez cigar made exclusively for Meier & Dutch, a wholesaler that’s part of Cigars International. Nicaraguan tobacco with an Ecuador Habano wrapper and according to the credits this cigar gets from the likes of Nestor Plasencia, Alan Rubin, Pete Johnson and others I am really looking forward to this stick. I smoked the 6×48 Double Corona aka Knights Templar
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The cigar looks good and the band is just awesome, very detailed, weird shapes, very beautiful. The cigar however feels a bit under filled with some soft spots and I smell a barnyard aroma. The predraw is fine, the flavor not so, I taste musty and rotten wood.
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I taste a mild coffee and a mild pepper flavor, which is soon replaced by wood. After half an inch I also taste some citrus. Soon al the flavors change to herbs and citrus. After an inch citrus becomes the main flavor with some wood on the background, slowly the cigar gets a bit stronger and after an inch and a half I get some pepper again.
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After 1 third I taste a very nice combination of spices, pepper, wood and lemon. Halfway its moist wood with an unpleasant charcoal flavor which luckily changes to herbs with a mild citrus. After two thirds I get those nice spices again, perfectly balances with the acidity of the citrus. At the end I taste some pepper.
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The draw is fine; the smoke starts out thin even though I get plenty of smoke. It gets thicker along the way. The white ash is frayed but firm. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. I had to correct the burn a few times, just a little bit. The cigar lasted me for an hour and a half.
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Would I buy his cigar again? No. I know it gets a lot of praise, even from some of the most influential people in the cigar business, but I’ve had better

Appearance: 7
Construction: 8
Draw: 9
Burn: 7
Smoke & ash: 7
Aroma first part: 7
Aroma second part: 6
Aroma third part: 7

Categories: Ave Maria, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Man’o’War Special Edition Figurado

A while ago a Dutch friend called me and told me “monster deal of the day, Man O’ War special editionfigurado for just 50 bucks, I’m ordering a box, do you want one too?”. I jumped the gun, as I was dying to try these. I love the regular Man O’ War cigars, as a matter of fact, I like almost all A.J. Fernandez cigars, and this Man O’ War special edition figurado combines the Man O’ War blend with the Man O’ War ruination Habano wrapper. The cigar is a 7.1×58 figurado and comes in boxes of 10.
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The wrapper is dark, oily and silky with a few veins. I love the figurado shape. The cigar has a strong barnyard smell. The construction feels good. The predraw is fine and tastes peppery.
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I taste wood and nuts with pepper. The wood and pepper are the dominant flavors. The nut flavor disappears after ¾ inch and the pepper becomes less strong. On the background I taste a little bit of chocolate.
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The cigar turns flat, but pleasantly flat. Halfway I taste some herbs with pepper and wood, quite strong and full. After two thirds I get a lot of black pepper with some wood on the background.
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This cigar has a smoke time of an hour and forty minutes. The draw is great and the burn is phenomenal, usually I have issues with figurados but this burn was straight as an arrow from the start. The ash is almost white and firm. This cigar is full flavored and full bodied.
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Would I buy this cigar again? Next time when they are ‘deal of the day’ I’ll have to pick up a new box

Appearance: 8 / 10
Construction: 8 / 10
Draw: 8 / 10
Burn: 9 / 10
Smoke & ash: 7 / 10
Aroma first part: 8 / 10
Aroma second part: 7 / 10
Aroma third part: 7 / 10

Categories: Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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