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AJ's Innovation on Full Display
AJ Fernandez is a very busy man–and that may be putting it lightly. Recently, he’s collaborated with some of the biggest names in the business to make some absolute gems, and he’s somehow found the time to craft some new premiums to add to his own illustrious portfolio.Among the brand new additions is an extension to his Enclave line. AJ created the original Habano-wrapped beauty with the help with his father, Ismael, and the cigar received a well-deserved ‘92’ rating and Top 25 honors.The newest iteration of Enclave was brought about by a simple curiosity–AJ wanted to know what the blend would taste like wrapped with a Connecticut Broadleaf, and I’ve never been so grateful for Mr. Fernandez’s inventive and adventurous approach to making cigars.
Don’t get me wrong, the original Enclave is nothing shy of exquisite, but when Nicaraguan fillers from Pueblo Nuevo, Estelí, and the Jalapa Valley are encased by a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, what you get is a brand new profile with a deeper flavor and full-body. Enclave Broadleaf is visibly darker than the original, and the unlit tobaccos have a spicier aroma with a slight hint of hay and caramel–an indication that this cigar has been aged very well.When the cigar is first lit, there is a fair amount of spice with notes of earth, espresso, some toasted almonds, and slight citrus on the finish. As the burn continues, the peppery notes remain present, but the flavors develop into a creamy leather with notes of cocoa and a natural sweetness. Enclave Broadleaf is a solid full-bodied cigar, and it has complexity to spare. Of course, the original will always be a regular in my rotation of premiums, but this new addition will definitely find its way into the mix as well.
Created by AJ Fernandez, this is a modern take on a classic brand—and as you might expect—it’s jaw-droppingly complex. Featuring a blend of long-fillers from Nicaragua's top growing regions and an oily Ecuador Habano wrapper, this cigar's sweet, spicy, and full-boded profile makes it a can't-miss.
Full-bodied, complex, and well-made, Don Pepin Garcia Blue is worthy of all the praise it's received since its launch. The blend utilizes high quality Nicaraguan long-fillers with a toothy Corojo wrapper over top, giving this '93' rated gem a spicy aroma with hints of cinnamon, earth, and dried fruit. One of Don Pepin's finest cigars to date.
Alec Bradley's Black Market cigars have always been a favorite of mine, but this '93' rated gem steals the show. Brimming with a four-country blend of long-fillers wrapped in a dark Nicaraguan leaf, this premium is satisfying to the core with notes of leather, chocolate, and earth.
With its oily Nicaraguan Habano wrapper and mix of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos, Romeo y Julieta Reserve is always a treat. It offers smooth and rich notes of oak, coffee, black pepper, and a bit of sweetness. A balance of strength and flavor, this cigar is one of Romeo y Julieta's best creations.
Macanudo Crü Royale is a medium-bodied gem which features a dark Ecuador Habano wrapper with Dominican and Brazilian fillers beneath. Crü Royale is rich with deep notes of sweet earth, black pepper, and wood. This cigar never fails to impress, as it is consistently flavorful and well-made. A must for any Macanudo fan.
Masterfully blended and perfectly balanced, Rocky Patel Vintage '90 is an exceptional cigar which has earned a regular place in my humidor. Featuring a 12-year-aged Honduran Broadleaf maduro wrapper with a blend of well-aged fillers and binders, you'll experience rich notes of cedar, espresso, and some sweetness.
Encased with a dark and oily Dominican wrapper with Dominican long-fillers tucked beneath, Dark Dominican is a decadent mellow to medium-bodied blend with notes of sweet cedar, earth, and nuts. One of my favorite cigars from Rocky Patel.
This cigar is an easygoing blend that never disappoints. Decadent Dominican long-fillers are encased by a smooth Connecticut wrapper. Satisfying notes of leather, spice, and cedar greet the palate and pair nicely with a morning coffee. One of Victor Sinclair’s crowning achievements.
This is not only one of my top picks for 2017, it's also one of my go-to cigars. This '95' rated box-pressed beauty sports a well-aged Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper with Nicaraguan and Dominican long-fillers beneath. Its notes of cocoa, black pepper, and earth are always an absolute pleasure.
This unique '95' rated gem is full-bodied with a beautifully complex profile. Flathead's Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers are bound with a well-fermented Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. Notes of black pepper, cocoa, and earth are nothing short of a holiday treat.
CAO may be one of the most adventurous cigar brands in the business. Its blends take enthusiasts off the beaten path with tobaccos procured in regions not often utilized by most cigar brands. A prime example of this is CAO’s Fuma Em Corda, literally translated to “smoke on a rope.” Named for a process native to Brazil, part of Fuma Em Corda’s blend of long fillers consists of Brazilian Arapiraca tobacco that is twisted into a braid and left to ferment. This tobacco is combined with long fillers from Nicaragua, Honduras, and Brazil, and encased by a Honduran Colorado Oscuro wrapper.
Something that strikes me as brilliant about this cigar (and all of the cigars in the CAO Amazon Basin Series) is the branding. Each cigar has a rustic appearance with a thin string of bound tobacco replacing the band. I tend to gravitate toward cigars with little details like this, because it shows a real appreciation for the tobaccos used, plus it just looks cool.
As for the cigar itself, the flavor is as unique as its aesthetic. Notes of espresso, caramel, and black pepper give this medium to full-bodied premium a truly unique profile with exquisite complexity. What’s really unique about this cigar is the fact that you can actually burn through the “band” without any adverse effects, because as mentioned, it’s made of tobacco.
CAO has definitely cornered the market when it comes to exotic cigars and Fuma Em Corda is a prime example of this. Well-made with flavor to spare, this cigar is an absolute gem that will certainly impress any aficionado looking for something a little different.
As advertised, Rocky Patel Super Ligero is brimming with Nicaraguan and Costa Rican triple ligero fillers, all hidden by a St. Augustine Habano wrapper. A complex profile with notes of leather and spice make this premium bold, balanced, and an absolute pleasure after a big meal.
You’d be hard pressed to find an enthusiast who hasn’t sampled one of Macanudo’s many blends. You’d be even more hard pressed to find one who hasn’t at least heard of the brand during its nearly 50 year run. The brand started out in Jamaica in the late 60s, but moved to the Dominican Republic a few years later where it set down permanent roots. At first, the cigars were mellow and packed with flavor, making them accessible to a wide variety of palates. But as time progressed, so did enthusiasts Tastes. And, to keep up with demand, Macanudo began blending fuller-bodied cigars with bolder tasting notes.
Macanudo’s latest creation may be one of its most innovative to date. Inspirado Black comes dressed in a dark and oily Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper which was ripened on the stalk. At the cigar’s core you’ll find a proprietary blend of fermented tobaccos grown in Estelí, Nicaragua. Well-constructed, this cigar has a rustic quality to it. But what really grabs me is the aroma coming from the tobaccos in this premium. They have an intoxicating smell of molasses and earth, reminding me of dried cherries. As soon as the cigar is lit, the flavor profile is striking, with notes of pepper, hay, and dried fruit at the finish. As the cigar progresses, the pepper nuances intensify, but they’re not overwhelming and the finish is nice and long. This may be my new favorite blend from Macanudo, simply because it offers so much complexity and spice. I would urge everyone to try Inspirado Black, but do so after a good meal. This cigar’s boldness took me a little off guard, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the hell out of it.
Easily one of J.C. Newman’s most popular cigar lines, Brick House has cornered the market on top notch cigars at an unbeatable price. Each blend is beautifully balanced with a pleasing aromas, and a throng of satisfying tasting notes. The original Brick House cigar was well-received by both fans and critics, and earned a well-deserved spot in Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 cigars of 2010. The maduro blend also received high marks with a ‘91’ rating just this year.
With such high acclaim, it was only a matter of time before J.C. Newman added a Connecticut wrapped offering to its lineup of Brick House cigars.
Masked with a pristine Connecticut Shade leaf and brimming with sweet smelling long fillers, Brick House Connecticut is love at first sight. The cold draw offers classic Connecticut notes of sweet cream, a touch of cedar, and some nuances of earth. I noticed more pepper in the first few puffs of this cigar, with notes of vanilla and roasted nuts. I was actually surprised by the spice. Not over the top, but more pronounced than I was expecting. The pepper lingered throughout, but became less present throughout the burn. The finish was short, but sweet, and overall this cigar presented complexities not often found in run of the mill Connecticut blends. I would call this an absolute homerun for Brick House. It offers the same complexities and spice of more expensive fuller-bodied cigars, but can be enjoyed as an everyday cigar. I’ve probably enjoyed close to a box of these since we got them in our warehouse, and I’m probably going to buy another just as soon as I make room in my humidor, or I just may buy another humidor specifically for these beauties.
A gorgeous offering from JC Newman. Perla del Mar’s golden brown wrapper is pristine. An Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf masks long-fillers from three growing regions in Nicaragua, bringing about decadent notes of cedar, caramel, and cream. Without a doubt, Perla del Mar is one of my favorite mellow-bodied cigars.
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