AJ FERNANDEZ BELLAS ARTES MADURO GORDO
AJ Fernandez is undoubtedly one of the most prolific cigar makers of the modern era. Raised in Cuba, he now operates 10 tobacco farms and 2 cigar factories in Nicaragua. Between these facilities, over 100,000 cigars a day are produced under his watchful eye. His true passion, and why he is able to produce such a wide variety of superior quality premium cigars, is the tobacco that he grows. Without quality materials, your product will never be exceptional. It is this philosophy that drives him to spend equal time between farms and factories. Each tobacco leaf must meet his high standards, and each cigar must be expertly constructed. He takes great pride in his creations and would never attach his name to the end product if it didn’t. While his product lines are diverse, he wanted to create a cigar that commemorated Cuba’s famed national art museum. The museum is called Bellas Artes, and he names this cigar after it as a testament to the fine art of cigar making.
The AJ Fernandez Bellas Artes Maduro is akin to taking in a beautiful work of art. It is expertly handcrafted, a site to behold, and the attention to detail is exquisite. Making a cigar named after Cuba’s museum of fine art, AJ Fernandez sought out unique tobaccos to create his blend. Beginning with Nicaraguan-grown tobaccos from his farms, the filler is topped with a Mexican San Andres binder leaf, and covered with a Mata Fina wrapper from Brazil.This exceptional blend is a rich, flavorful, and delicately balanced work of art. Tasting notes feature flavors of coffee, cocoa, and cream with hits of earth, citrus, pepper, and cedar. Bellas Artes Maduro just may be AJ Fernandez’s spectacular and interesting creation to date.
PERDOMO DOUBLE AGED 12 YEAR VINTAGE MADURO GORDO EXTRA
Perdomo is one of the few vertically integrated cigar makers in the industry. That sounds fancy and all, but it is something quite unique in this business. Most of the tobacco used in Perdomo cigars is grown, cured, and aged in their own facilities, but it goes far beyond that. Perdomo’s manufacturing facilities consist of farms, greenhouses, curing barns, fermentation warehouses, selection and sorting departments, production facilities, a state of the art box factory, and a first class packaging operation. Each and every department is fully committed to making sure quality is their top priority. To that end, Tabacalera Perdomo produces some of the most sought after handmade cigars in the world. They have set a high bar for quality and flavor which offers cigar enthusiasts a rich and satisfying smoking experience.
The Perdomo Double Aged 12 Year Maduro is a special cigar in the Perdomo Portfolio. As the name implies, this blend features Perdomo’s finest and most cherished 12-year aged wrappers, binders, and fillers. These tobaccos have been carefully bale-aged for ten years and then bourbon barrel-aged for an additional two years.This unique double-aging process ensures the perfect color, texture, aroma, and flavor in these tobaccos, making each cigar a well-balanced and full-flavored smoking experience. Tasting notes include rich flavors of dark chocolate, coffee, and earth along with hints of pepper and sugarcane. The Perdomo Double Aged 12 Year Vintage is a master class in flavor and complexity that will leave you coming back for more.
E.P. CARRILLO INCH MADURO NO. 64
It’s not easy being known as the “Godfather” of premium cigars, but it is a title that Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, Jr. wears well. Since 1980, Ernesto has been making some of the most sought-after cigars in the world. His journey began in his father’s (Ernesto Sr.) El Credito cigar factory in Little Havana, Miami in the mid 1970s. Four years later, his father passed away, and Jr. took the reins. He carried within him the four greatest lessons his father taught him: dedication to work, humility, patience and respect. These principles have guided him throughout his life and career. He is always patient and willing to lend a hand to friends in need, and it’s why he’s often known as the “godfather.” He may not be your relative, but he’s always around to provide advice or a helping hand to other cigar makers. He’s truly one of the nicest people in the cigar industry.
Ernesto Perez-Carrillo was one of the first manufacturers to make cigars with truly large ring gauges. It helped catapult his old brand, La Gloria Cubana, to the top of the charts with the Serie R. Now under the label bearing his name, the E.P. Carrillo Inch cigars are the talk of the town when it comes to big diameter cigars. He didn’t stray too far from his original formula in recreating the magic. The blend uses Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers, a Nicaraguan binder, and a USA Connecticut broadleaf wrapper.Think of this blend as a beefed up Serie R for the modern smoker. Tasting notes include flavors of cedar, and pepper with hints of cocoa and coffee bean.It’s a hearty smoke that should satisfy lovers of large, bold cigars.
ESPINOSA CREMA NO. 5
You could write volumes of prose on the long journey of what is now known as Espinosa Premium Cigars. None of it would be possible without the Alpha Dawg himself, Erik Espinosa. What a long, strange trip it’s been to get where he is today. To keep it short, he got his start in the industry as a cigar broker in southern Florida, and quickly developed a bug to become a brand owner. He first launched EO cigars with his close friend Eddie Ortega and had cigars made by Pepin Garcia in Nicaragua. When Garcia could no longer commit to producing their blends, the duo split. Erik formed Espinosa Premium Cigars and opened his own factory in Nicaragua called La Zona where many of his cigars are made today. There’s so much more to this story, but Erik is one of our favorite people in the industry. Honest and trustworthy as the day is long. It’s one of the reasons his brand has developed a cult-like following. He says what he means and does what he promises.
The Espinosa Crema is an unusual cigar for the brand. While most of their portfolio consists of stronger cigars, the Crema is the first Espinosa with a Connecticut wrapper. Made in their La Zona factory located in the heart of Esteli, Nicaragua, the Espinosa Crema uses a blend of well-aged Nicaraguan filler and binder tobaccos. It’s capped with a gorgeous, golden-colored Ecuadorian grown Connecticut wrapper. The blend is a solid mild-medium strength affair and features tasting notes of coffee, toasted almonds, and cream along with hints of delicate woods, black pepper, and orange citrus. It’s a stellar combination and a dynamite addition to the Espinosa Portfolio.
OLIVA SERIE O HABANO DOUBLE TORO
The Oliva portfolio of premium cigars is wide ranging and covers the bases of flavor profile and price points. No matter which of their products you choose, you are guaranteed a great tasting cigar at a fair price point. While some of their other marks get the lion’s share or attention, it’s a great idea to look back and enjoy one of their first premium blends. Even after all these years, the Oliva Serie O is still a champ. Though it’s been on the market for close to a decade, it keeps racking up the accolades. It scored a 92 in Cigar Aficionado recently. It’s a testament to the care and attention to detail that the Oliva family puts into products that bear their name.
Made in one of their Nicaraguan factories, the Serie O uses a blend of Oliva-grown Nicaraguan tobaccos for the filler and binder. But the real magic is the Nicaraguan Habano wrapper (also grown on family farms). By controlling the process from start to finish, the quality of this cigar is unrivaled at the price point. Tasting notes include thick, balanced notes of caramel and pepper with hints of cedar and milk chocolate. With the Serie O, the Olivas have created a wonderful medium-full bodied blend that maintains relevancy in an ever changing world.