No Flash In The Pan For AJ Fernandez’ New World

AJ Fernandez came on like gang busters several years ago with the San Lotano brand. Similar to rock bands who have been around for years then suddenly they are discovered as the new sensation. When his San Lotano Oval hit the streets you could not find it in stock just about everywhere. I was one of the cigar dudes who hunted for a Oval and when I scored some, it felt like this was the best cigar every made. I still think it is an outstanding smoke but the allure lost a bit through the years.

Today’s review is the New World line which has been in the market place since 2014. Clearly not a new cigar but a steady seller for the AJ team.  It’s time to write about it and see if it the hit for me as the San Lotano Oval was.

As always, the review is not impacted on how or where I received the cigar. The review are my thoughts on this particular smoke. I suggest if what I comment about interests you, try the blend and make your own opinion.


Brand/Name of Cigar: AJ Fernandez/ New World
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Dark Nicaraguan 
Binder: Jalapa ( Nicaragua)
Filler: Viso Ometepe, Condega Ligero, Esteli-Finca Soledad Ligero
Shape: Toro
Where and when smoked: Los Angeles , Ca. , 8/28/2016

Appearance and Construction:

Very dark chocolate in appearance upon first glance but taking a closer look, there are some veins that are evident. I like box press cigars which for me provide a more involved smoke. The cigar band and lower band is a nice counterpoint that makes the wrapper look even darker.  It’s a nice touch.

Flavor/ Taste and Aroma:

I expected a hit of chocolate and it did not disappoint as this was the prominent note in the first third. I thought it would have more of a pepper taste but did not get this. Actually it was quite creamy, and smooth. Its profile would fall something in the medium to strong category.

Smoking Characteristics:

The burn stayed lit and held it’s shape well. The cigar did not tunnel, but did have some minor changes in the direction of the overall burn. This did not hinder the taste or enjoyment of the cigar. Ash was light grey to a darker hue in appearance. The smoking experience was solid throughout the one hour or so time frame.

Conclusion/Overall Impression:

This was a very steady smoke with all the pleasantries of a good smoke. Throw in the very reasonable price point and you have a winner.  Here are the numbers.

By the numbers:
Appearance/Construction: 4 out of 5
Flavor/Taste/ Aroma: 4 out of 5
Smoking Characteristics : 3.8 out of 5
Overall value and enjoyment: 3.9 out 5

Final Thoughts:

The New World falls into the category of keeping several available in your humidor. When you cannot find anything negative that counter indicates a smoke which strikes you favorably, I suggest this cigar is a very good choice for just about anytime of the day.

*Credit: The Urban Fishing Pole, Frank “Bo” Gerechter.

Fidel Castro Dead At 90

Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary who would rule the island for nearly five decades, has died at 90.

Born in 1926 to Spanish immigrants to Cuba, Castro would become politically active as a laws student at the University of Havana in the mid-1940s and quickly became a critic of then-president Ramón Grau. In 1950, Castro co-founded a law practice for the far that ultimately provoked unsuccessful. He then planned to run for congress in the 1952 elections, but Fulgencio Batista took control of the country in a military coup and cancelled the elections.

Castro began a variety of attempts to remove Batista from power starting with lawsuits that proved fruitless before ultimately turning to the idea of overthrowing the government.

fidel_castro

In 1959, after nearly a decade of fighting, Castro and his MR-26-7 movement (26th of July Movement) succeeding in overthrowing the army of Batista.

Castro then started a government of his own and transitioned Cuba to a communist country. This included the seizing and nationalized of private owned businesses including all of Cuba’s tobacco industry.

In 1962, days before the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. extended its embargo to include almost all Cuban goods, cutting off Cuba’s cigars and other products from the world’s largest market.

Castro himself was a cigar smoker. The modern Cohiba brand was started in the mid-1960s as a private label for Castro himself. In 1968, Cubatabaco launched the brand to be used as diplomatic gifts and in 1982 Cohiba would be offered for sale.

In 2006, an ailing Castro relinquished powers to his brother Raúl.

Over the last decade, Raúl and President Obama have made significant strides towards dismantling many of the restrictions created by the embargo. American consumers are now able to bring back Cuban cigars they purchased abroad, commercial flights to Cuba resumed earlier this year and many of the economic restrictions on the island regarding private businesses and foreign investments have been moderately relaxed.

*Credit: Halfwheel

A.J. Fernandez Crafts A Montecristo

Smokers will soon be able to smoke a Montecristo cigar as imagined and interpreted by cigarmaker A.J. Fernandez. In a collaboration with cigar distributor Santa Clara Inc., Montecristo Crafted By A.J. Fernandez is the newest version of the heritage Montecristo brand.

Altadis U.S.A. owns the U.S. trademark for Montecristo. Both Santa Clara and Altadis U.S.A. are run by Tabacalera U.S.A., which is an arm of Imperial Brands PLC.

Made in Nicaragua at the A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua factory in Estelí, Fernandez worked with Altadis’ Grupo de Maestros to develop this new Montecristo, which consists of Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper, Mexican San Andrés binder and filler from Nicaragua and Honduras.

Montecristo Crafted By A.J. Fernandez will come in five sizes: Churchill at 7 inches by 50 ring gauge; Figurado, at 4 by 52; Gordo at 6 by 58; Robusto, 5 by 52; and Toro, 6 by 50.

This would be the second time that Altadis has collaborated with a third-party producer to make a . In 2014, Nestor Plasencia worked with Altadis to create the Espada by Montecristo line. Other recent collaborative releases include the Henry Clay Tattoo (with Tatuaje Cigars) and the Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Aging Room (with Boutique Blends).

This would also be the second time that A.J. Fernandez has the opportunity to interpret a heritage brand. The Hoyo La Amistad is his version of the storied Hoyo de Monterrey brand, which is owned by General Cigar for sale in the U.S.

The cigars should be widely available later this month.

*Credit: Cigar Aficionado

New Herrera Estelí Edición Limitada H-Town Lancero

By now, STOGIES World Class Cigars’ H-Town Lancero Series should need no introduction. There is no store that is known for selling lanceros, typically the slowest moving vitola in a humidor, than the Houston-based retailer. So it was no surprise when the ongoing series of releases from different manufactures turned out to be exclusively composed of long and skinny vitola.

The newest release in the series is the Herrera Estelí Edición Limitada H-Town Lancero, a 7 x 38 lancero that incorporates the same Connecticut broadleaf maduro wrapper, Brazilian mata fina binder and Nicaraguan fillers tobaccos that were found in the company’s Herrera Estelí TAA 2016, which was released exclusively to members of the Tobacconists’ Association of America in April. As with all of the H-Town cigars, the new Herrera Esteli is a limited release, priced at $12 each with only 500 boxes of 15 cigars having been produced.

Produced at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Nicaragua, the Herrera Estelí Edición Limitada H-Town Lancero was released during STOGIE’s annual Big Damn Cigar Jamboree & Wingding last month.

The cigar is covered in an espresso brown wrapper that is devoid of oil and sandpaper rough to the touch. There are multiple viens running up and down the length, but none of them are overly annoying, though the cigar is quite spongy when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of creamy oak, dark cocoa nibs, black pepper, manure and vanilla sweetness, while the cold draw brings flavors of a huge creamy oak, leather, gritty earth, peanuts and the same vanilla sweetness from the cold draw.

It starts off the first third with a very obvious and dominant creamy oak note carried over from both the aroma and cold draw, interspersed with lesser flavors of anise, barnyard, hay, fresh brewed coffee, cocoa nibs and leather. A wonderful vanilla sweetness is noticeable on the finish, while there is a small but obvious white pepper on the retrohale that seems to be getting stronger as the first third burns down. The draw is fantastic after a simple straight cut, the burn is razor sharp and the smoke production is massive off of the foot. Strength-wise, the H-Town starts off fairly mild, but ends up close to the medium mark by the time the first time comes to a close.

The vanilla sweetness that was such a major part of the profile in the first third seems to dissipate quite a bit in the second third of the H-Town, becoming less of a dominant flavor and more of a complimentary note that combines with the creamy oak coming right behind. Other flavors of cocoa nibs, black pepper, coffee beans, hay and gritty earth flit in and out, while there is a slight ancho chili note on finish that is gone almost as soon as I register it, although it is strong enough to throw off the balance a bit. Construction-wise, the draw continues to impress, and while I have to correct the burn once just after the halfway point, it was never in any danger of getting out of control. The overall streghth easily hits the medium mark by the end of the second third, but seems to be content to stay at that level, at least for the time being.

Although it is never a major part of the profile, the ancho chili note on the finish continues to pop up now and again, screwing with the balance of the cigar when it is present. However, for the most part, the dominant flavors continue to be a very distinct creamy oak combined with hay and dark chocolate. Other notes of fresh coffee grounds, earth, barnyard, dried tea leaves, black pepper and a touch of floral are obvious at different points, while the vanilla sweetness from the first two thirds has morphed into more of a graham cracker note. The burn has evened up nicely and the draw continues to impress, and although the strength does increase slightly compared to the second third, it barely makes it past the medium mark before settling down for good, and I put the nub down with less than an inch to go.

*Credit: Halfwheel

California Passes Higher Cigar Tax

The good news is, voters in three states—Colorado, Missouri and North Dakota—yesterday defeated ballot measures that sought to raise the tax on cigars in their respective states. The bad news is that California voters didn’t.

More than 62 percent of California voters opted to pass Proposition 56, which will raise the tax on cigars in the state by a whopping 153 percent. Currently, the tax on cigars is 27.3 percent of the wholesale cost, but this vote will lead to a new tax that’s expected to be 69.2 percent of the wholesale cost. The state, one of the world’s largest markets for cigars, is unusual because it bases its cigar tax on the rate of taxation on cigarettes. The new tax will likely take effect on July 1 of next year.

La_Gloria_serie_R_Black_Maduro_open_right_facing

This means that the state tobacco tax for a $10 cigar will jump from $2.73 to $6.92.

Fortunately, cigar smokers in Colorado, Missouri and North Dakota won’t have to worry about increased taxes, as voters in all three states defeated measures that would have raised the tax on cigars sold in those states.

In Colorado, Amendment 72, which sought to raise the cigar tax to 62 percent, was defeated. Approximately 53.6 percent of voters opposed the bill, with 46.4 percent supporting it.

North Dakota’s Initiated Statutory Measure 4, which sought to double the cigar tax, was soundly defeated by 61.52 percent of voters.

Eligible voters in Missouri voted no on two tobacco-related measures, Amendment 3 and Proposition A. While both measures looked to raise cigarette taxes, Proposition A included language that called for an additional 5 percent sales tax to OTP products, which include cigars. However, 55.26 percent of eligible voters said no to the measure.

*Credit: Cigar Aficionado

A Good Cigar To The Last Puff

A good cigar will make the grade if you smoke it every day or once a month. The satisfaction it gives you will bring you back every time.
El Rey Del Mundo is a smoke that reminds me of a friend you may not see very often but it’s like old times when you do. Here are my thoughts on this smoke.  My subjective opinion as always is not based on how or where I received the cigar. If my review is interesting, please try the cigar yourself.

Brand /Name of Cigar: El Rey Del Mundo/ Choix Supreme
Country of Origin : Honduras
Size: 6.12 x 4.9
Wrapper: Honduras – Oscuro
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Honduras
Filler: Honduras
Shape: Parejo
Where and When Smoked: Lone Wolf Cigar Lounge, Los Angeles, Ca. Oct 9, 2016

Appearance/Construction: 

Medium brown wrapper, solid to the touch with no soft spots. Slightly oily.  There were several veins observed but did not impact the integrity of the cigar shape. The profile of the band and color of the wrapper is a great look.

Flavor/Taste and Aroma:

The first third had a nutty/almond character with a smooth medium profile. A hint of spice but it was minor almost not noticed. It was consistent in the second and third portions of the cigar too with very little deviation throughout the smoke. This was a plus for me and I don’t like cigars with highs and lows.

Smoking Characteristics:

There was a slightly uneven burn with a light grey ash. Easy draw with no hot spots. There was one relight which was easily corrected with my Xikar lighter.

Conclusion/ Overall Impression:

The cigar has a low price point but it is not a ” cheap” cigar. By all accounts the El Rey Del Mundo Choix Supreme is a top flight product.  The balance of the blend, the construction, flavor were positive.

By the numbers:

Appearance/Construction: 3.5 out of 5
Flavor/Taste and Aroma: 4 out of 5
Smoking Characteristics / 3.5 out of 5
Conclusion/ Overall Impression: 3.8 out of 5

Final Thoughts: 
There are special occasion cigars, there are every day cigars. The El Rey Del Mundo Choix Supreme can be either.

*Credit: Frank “Bo” Gerechter, The Urban Fishing Pole