Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez

A.J. Fernandez, Esteli, Nicaragua

Mayimbe Robusto

Every time I am in the United States I visit cigar shops to buy single sticks of cigars I can’t get back home and that are to my interest, either because I know and like the manufacturer, I know and like the brand, I read good stuff about the cigar or it looks cool to me. Now early 2014 I spend a week in Esteli, Nicaragua and then spend a week in Florida, a few days in Miami and a few days in Orlando. And of course in both cities I visited some shops and in one of those shops I found a cigar that I really wanted to try but because of the limited production never expected to see: A.J. Fernandez’s Mayimbe Limited Edition 2013. Only 2500 boxes of 10 were made in 4 sizes so finding them months after their release was just luck I guess.


I’m a fan of a lot of cigars that are being made by A.J., not only his own brands but also cigars he makes for Meyer & Dutch (I love the Diesel, Man O’War Skull Crusher, Ave Maria) and the Nicoya brand. So when I read about the Mayimbe I was curious to try it even thought the 56 ring is a little above my preferred thickness. Now this cigar isn’t limited just to be a limited, it’s limited because of the tobacco. The Pennsylvania broadleaf wrapper isn’t limited, the Nicaraguan binder from A.J. Fernandez farms isn’t limited, the Honduran filler isn’t limited but the Nicaraguan filler is, its a leaf called Privado and it’s been grown by A.J. Fernandez on a small farm and he’s been working on it for years. So no marketing “limited edition” as so many companies do, inspired by Habanos (who nowadays manufacure more limited releases than regular production between the regional editions, limited editions, reserva and anejados) but a true limited edition because they are out of tobacco. And that’s what a limited should be, limited because of a limited amount of tobacco.


The Pennsylvania broadleaf wrapper is darn, like a piece or dark chocolate, with a few veins and a nice triple cap. The construction feels good and the head of the cigar is beautifully rounded. The aroma is full and its like standing on the attic in a hay shed on a rainy afternoon. There are two rings on the cigar, one on the foot which is about a centimeter high, pitch black with the A.J. Fernandez logo in red letters and gold lining in a white circle with gold lining. The main ring is big with a curved top. The bottom part is black, the top part is brown and I don’t like the color brown on cigar bands unless its the exact same color as the wrapper which this isn’t. There is golden lining and swirls and in big black letters Mayimbe. A.J. Fernandez is written in smaller black letters. On the back there is the Mayimbe logo and the words “Esteli, Nicaragua” in golden letters. Now the band isn’t ugly but the brown color is, almost any other color would have been a better fit. I punched the cigar because of the thickness. The pre draw is good and I taste raw tobacco with little bit of a thinner aftertaste.


I lit the cigar with my soft flame and I taste a strong coffee flavor with a little caramel sweetness which are both quickly replaced by oak. A centimeter in I also taste some lemon in the aftertaste. After a third the cigar changes to a mix of spices like nutmeg and cinnamon with a mild peppery aftertaste, like ground white pepper. Halfway the flavor turns to cedar with nutmeg and that white pepper aftertaste. It’s all well balanced. After two thirds the oak is back. At the end I taste nuts with a little more pepper.


The smoke is huge! Thick and abundant, I love it. The ash is light colored but a bit frayed. It’s also firm. The draw is fantastic. The burn is pretty straight but I had to correct once. The cigar is medium bodied and medium to full flavored. The cigar is nub tool good. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? That is not possible. I would love to smoke this blend in a 48 ring.


Score: 91

91

 

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

A. J. Fernandez New World Puro Especial Robusto

Four years ago, in 2014, A.J. Fernandez and his father, who previously spend 17 years at tobacco mogul Plasencia, created the New World line. A few new additions came with a Connecticut shade version, a few single store vitolas, and last year Abdel and his father Ismael created the New World Puro Especial, a Nicaraguan puro with tobacco’s from several tobacco fields owned and cultivated by Fernandez in and around Esteli.


All tobacco is aged between three to five years before being used and picked specifically for this blend. In an interview Fernandez told a little about the blend, saying he picked tobacco from the San Diego fields for the minerals, from the La Soledad farm for the flavor, from the La Providencia farm for the aroma and he picked a Criollo 98 wrapper from the San Jose farm. A.J. gave me this cigar personally when I met him again at the Intertabac trade show last september.


When I take the cigar out of the cellophane I feel a leathery, which, wrapper. The color is quite dark, like 75% chocolate with a mild oily shine. I also see some veins but that fits with the dark color and make the cigar look intimidating in a good way. The ring is detailed, a white ring with red and gold outlines, a new world painting and a secondary ring in red and gold with the AJ Fernandez name. The cigar has a medium aroma of charred wood and manure. The head of the cigar is well rounded and the cigar feels evenly packed.


I decided to break out the old punch. The cold draw is good, I taste mild spicy tobacco. After lighting I taste coffee, quite spicy. After a quarter of an inch I taste chocolate milk after taking a zip of water. Without drinking water it’s more coffee with cocoa powder, quite dry. After an inch I taste a floral flavor with a tiny bit of chocolate. After a third the cigar has a unique flavor of vegetables and flowers. Halfway the flavor changes to floral leather with a little bit of black pepper. The pepper is slowly getting stronger with a lot of leather and still some of the floral flavor.


The draw is great and the light gray ash is dense and firm. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The burn is pretty straight. This is a medium bodied, medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would like a few more.

Score: 91

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

Manowar Virtue Toro

Years ago, before I worked in the cigar industry, I used to order some Meier & Dutch cigars in America, cigars like the Diesel Unholy Cocktail, Manowar, Reposado and a few others but once I started working for a Dutch distributer I couldn’t do that anymore for a couple of reasons, first one that it’s illigal to import tobacco without a license, secondly that I needed to keep all my customers, the shop owners, happy and ordering online from America was a needle in their eye. But damn, how I missed my Diesels and Manowars.


I started bugging my employer to see if he could import and distribute them. He said “Meier & Dutch is part of STG, they will never allow it” but after more pushing and handing him all contact info he decided to send a mail. A few weeks later I ran into Alex Svenson, general manager of Meier & Dutch, in Nicaragua and that settled the deal. STG saw our success and is now starting to distribute those cigars in other European countries too. Late september the Manowar Virtue was introduced to the Dutch market and Alex handed me this one in person.


The Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper is silky and smooth without veins and the triple cap looks good. The construction feels fine. The cigar has a strong hay and straw aroma with some ammonia or something else acidic. Now I used to be a avid opponent of Connecticut Shade tobacco, but the last few months I finally started to enjoy it, so I’m looking forward to this cigar. The ring is the regular manowar ring, but in silver and white and that makes the mask quite hard to see. An other color combination should have worked better but on the other hand, the combination looks good with the pale wrapper.


I cut the cigar with my Xikar cutter, the cold draw is fine but I don’t taste a lot. After lighting I taste a mild coffee flavor, mild sweet and a little rough around the edge. After a centimeter the cigar remains mild, a little coffee, sweetness and a little pepper. The mild harshness I tasted is completely gone. Halfway The cigar is very creamy with a little vanilla and a little pepper. Near the end the pepper grows in strength, it’s white pepper.


The draw is good, could have been a hair tighter to be perfect. The smoke is thick, full and plentiful. The light gray ash shows clear rings. The burn is razor sharp though. This cigar is mild, both in flavor and body. It’s also a quite monotone cigar. The smoke time is about and hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, this is too mild for me, and not enough flavor.

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

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

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

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: , , , , , ,

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: , , , , ,

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: , ,

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: , ,

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: , ,

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: , , ,

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