Earlier this week the news came out that Michael Giannini, the creative director and General Cigar, and the mastermind behind the Foundry cigar line, had left the company after 17 years. I met Michael back in 2010 at the IPCPR show, when got to spend a few days with him at the factory in the Dominican Republic which was really educational. He’s one of my favorite people in the business, and it’s hard to imagine General Cigar without him. So to honor him on Thursday I broke out the IPCPR samples and lit up the new offering from Foundry Tobacco Co., and a cigar Michael worked on with AJ Fernandez, the new Foundry Time Flies. The samples provided are robustos, 5″ x 50, and has an Ecuador Habano wrapper, and binder and fillers from Nicaragua’s Quilali region, cultivated by AJ Fernandez and his farmers collective. Quilali is about halfway between Esteli and Jalapa, I looked it up as I hadn’t heard of it before (still haven’t found the famed Jalapeño Valley yet). I dare say, this cigar was the best cigar of the week. It was just what I have been enjoying in cigars recently, smooth, a little sweet, not too strong with some interesting spice flavors. The branding on this is interesting, it features a stylized skull on a prism kind of band, and the boxes are another example of something I noticed at the trade show, bright colors. Each size s in a different colored box, and the are not subtle colors. It’s a very well made, great tasting cigar.
Another IPCPR sample was a new one from Montecristo, the Montecristo Pilotico Pepe Mendez in the Toro size. This toro is a 6¼” x 52, and has an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, Dominican binder, and both Nicaraguan and Dominican Pilotico fillers. The Pilotico varietal is an old seed that Pepe Mendez brought from Cuba in the ’60s and revitalized in the Cibao Valley in the DR. There was some of this tobacco in the Montecristo 80th anniversary cigar that was out last year. It was hard to find anything bad to say about this cigar, it burned right, it had nice flavors along the leathery lines, with a hint of sweetness. It’s one of those cigars that is, no doubt, I very good cigar, but not in line with my preferred flavors. There are a few Montecristos I really like, most on the mild end of the spectrum. The box is cool with an old-timey suitcase motif, paying homage to Pepe Mendez’ traverls in the 60s to find the right area to plant his prized seeds.
Saturday afternoon I sat down with a Moya Ruiz Civil Disobedience. While they had this cigar at the IPCPR show, and have moved it from “event only” to regular production, this sample came to me through the generosity of a gentleman named Dave Payne. I met Dave at the show in July, he has a PR firm, but I first started corresponding with him when he had a cigar blog called The Cigar Sage. We had started around the same time, and compared notes from time to time. Dave was kind enough to send me some goodies that I didn’t have access to, and I am overdue in returning his generosity. Anyway, this is another well made cigar from the La Zona factory, with an Ecuador Habano wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and binder. It’s only available in a 5″ x 50 robusto, and proceeds from the sales goes to Cigar Rights of America. Once again, it’s a great smoke from La Zona, with that leathery profile that isn’t particularly my favorite, but it certainly wasn’t offensive. I was more in awe of the perfect burn and draw than that flavor. This is another cigar that did “wow” me, but was still very good, and I appreciate Dave sharing it with me. There are a couple more he sent that will be featured here in the very near future. I need to get to work on that reciprocal package!
Saturday evening i sat down with one more IPCPR sample, the Matilde Renacer Quadrata, a box pressed 6″ x 52 torpedo. I first sampled the Matilde Renacer after it was released, and had some issues with the burn on the samples I had, they had a core of tobacco that refused to burn, making smoking it a very messy affair (especially in the car!). I didn’t get a very good feel for the cigar which I really wanted to like. However, when I finally got around to smoking the Matilde Oscura, I thought it was fantastic, right in my wheelhouse. All that being said, I was looking forward to smoking this new box pressed iteration of the original Renacer blend. I’m happy to report that this box pressed torpedo had none of the burn problems I initially experienced and was a really god cigar. I still lean toward the Osucura in this brand (heavily), but the Quadrata is a really good smoke. Jose Seijas and his son Enrique are outstanding people, and they make some darned good cigars.
That’s enough for now, my wife is pressuring me to get out the door to go up to Cigars International’s Downtown Bethlehem store for the afternoon, so I better get moving! Until the next time,