Menelik by Foundation Cigars

The Menelik Foundation Cigars

Here is a cigar that certainly ranks in my top ten of all time. Being introduced to Foundation Cigars years ago, I had no idea that years later I would, not only appreciate Foundation Cigars, but be able to actually meet Nick Melillo at TPE20 and fully embrace the quality of some top notch tobacco within the industry. 

The Menelik is offered in only one size (4 ½ x 52). It has Nicaraguan tobacco filler and binder with a San Andres wrapper, and to top it off The Menelik includes TABSA’S (Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.) signature Aganorsa Leaf tobacco. 

Back in 2017, Foundation Cigar Company added an event-only cigar known as the Menelik. After two years, Nick Melillo made a decision to bring The Menelik in as a limited production line and the cigar was showcased at the 2019 IPCPR Trade show. For those that are reading this article and don’t know what cigars are within foundation Cigars then I’ll share with you a little background on when Foundation Cigar Company launched. First was, The El Gueguense (The Wise Man), and The Tabernacle. The Tabernacle pays homage to the resting place for the Ark of the Covenant, which is said to be in a wooden chest containing two stone tablets representing the Ten Commandments. The Tabernacle is said to have been dismantled and superseded by King Solomon. Today the country of Ethiopia claims to be home of the Ark of Covenant. It turns out that Menelik was an ancient emperor of Ethiopia and is said to be the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Menelik was also known as Ibn al-Hakim which translates into “Son of the Wise Man” – thus the tie-ins to both cigars. Also included within the Foundation Cigar Company are the Charter Oak, The Upsetters, and Highclere Castle. 

Now you’ve had a little from the past – now for some of the present. I’m about to cold draw and light this amazingly crafted cigar! This cigar does have a pig tail yet I did decide to straight cut it. First tasting notes that come to mind upon taking a few cold draws are chocolate, spice, and some deep rich earthy sweet notes, all of which get the palate salivating and ready for light up! 

Right from the first light I’m getting some red pepper dusted with cocoa powder with a hint of molasses and a sweetness of black cherry kind of comes through. Going right into the first third that spicy red pepper note dissipates while a velvety smooth chocolate and molasses stays strong on the palate. The burn stays slow and consistent, can’t help but feel like I’m having a sweet n savory treat. The Menelik has some deep rooted earthy spicy chocolaty notes with that dark cherry covered in maple and molasses. 

Smoking into the next third of The Menelik some light toasted nuttiness comes through with that sweetness still hanging around although, that dark cherry profile went away and moved into a hint of blackberry with molasses still lingering. Acknowledging the perfect balance between the earthy and sweetness of The Menelik. Chocolate still hanging strong and not just traditional Hershey chocolate but we are talkin layers of richness with that velvety Dove chocolate profile. Smoking into the last third not much has changed in profile. Twists & turns of maybe certain profiles rotate from the front of the palate to the back of the palate and vise versa but overall the balance between everything certainly brings a lot of joy during the journey of smoking The Menelik. With a price tag of only $13.00 (unless you’re in N.Y. or CA then the price tag goes UP) this is a cigar that I will smoke again and again; over and over; when I see them ANYWHERE there is no doubt without question or hesitation I will purchase as much as I can. Again, they are a limited production so when you do get a chance to see them whether individually or a box of 12 it’s certainly a must buy! For me a 5 out of 5 pints ALL THE WAY!!! Hope you get to enjoy one of these spectacular, perfectly balanced, well crafted cigar!

Wrapper –  San Andres Mexico

Binder – Corojo 99 Jalapa

Filler – Esteli, Condega, Jalapa


Rating: 5.0 out of 5 pints.

  • William O’Connor, AKA Billy Kartwheels, is the Co-Captian of the Distinguished Ruffians NY Chapter. Billy has had an interesting life, going through college, being in the Navy and living on a submarine, he has visited 48 states (hitchhiking through 35) of them and even lived in a Hare Krishna monastery for some time. After having numerous brushes with death durring his travels he has decided it was best to take it easy and appreciate life to its fullest all while smoking a cigar at the same time. 

Kafie 1901 San Andres Box Press Toro

Kafie 1901 San Andres

Greetings again to my Distinguished Ruffian family. Today, I have another new one for you. You’ll be taking the maiden voyage along with me as I sample the Kafie 1901 San Andres. This cigar debuted in 2016 as the company’s final blend. Due to FDA regulations, Dr. Gaby Kafie feared he would not be able to continue making new cigars in the future. As for this cigar, he said it was 2 years in the making for this blend. The cigar is made at the Reyes Factory (Tabacalera Puros Aliados) in Honduras. As you can guess by the name, the cigar has a Mexican San Andres wrapper, a Honduran Habano binder with fillers from Brazil (Mata Fina), Dominican Piloto Cubano, and ligero from Nicaragua. The cigar is a 6×54 hard box-pressed toro with an MSRP in 2016 of $10.50 and are now $8.49. Only 500 boxes a year were released at its beginning. I’m not sure the age of the cigar as it was gifted to me by the Prez, Mitch. A small factoid I found out about this cigar, it was supposed to be called “The Union”, but the rights to the name were already owned by My Father Cigars, San Andres was an easy enough choice as a backup. Lets cut this baby up and get into it.

At first glance, the cigar is a paper bag color with one giant vein on the back of the cigar. Also, the triple cap is barely hanging on and I’m guessing it will peel off after I clip it. The cold draw has a sharp cognac bite with some floral notes and is the perfect resistance for my preference. I used my Zippo single torch to toast it up and get this all started.

Right off the bat is that distinct San Andres aroma that slaps you in the face. Cedar and earth jump right out as the main characters in the first third. The cigar has a HUGE smoke output, almost on Liga Privada levels. After a couple of puffs, as I thought, the cap came right off. I used my plain ChapStick to salvage the rest of the wrapper from coming apart. Retrohale has a ton of wet grass and a slight white pepper bite. A touch of caramel sneaks its way in toward the end of the third. I would say the flavor and strength are both at the medium level. The burn is almost perfect and the draw is still great.

Pushing into the next third, the name of the game is EARTH!! Like a ton of it! It pretty much cancels out every other flavor trying to leak through. Still grass and white pepper on the retrohale, with a touch of floral begging to get noticed. As we near the end of the third, some leather and unroasted coffee beans are mingling with the earth notes. The strength is around Med/Full and flavor is still Medium.

Starting the final third, earth is still the main attraction. Not much changing in the way of transitions. This cigar is smoking so quickly, I can’t believe it’s almost done. I’m barely past the 45-minute mark and there is only an inch left of the cigar. Retrohale is predominately white pepper and floral notes. The cigar finishes around Medium/Full in strength and medium in flavor. It burned well but took me less than an hour for this giant cigar. The humidity was at 67% when I started, so it should have lasted much longer.

Well, a pretty straightforward cigar here. The flavor didn’t change much throughout the cigar. One thing to note is the bunching was super loose. If you’re expecting a nice long smoke, you might be disappointed. I think this cigar would be decent any time of day. I would pair it with something light. A bourbon or dark beer would mute the flavors of the cigar. I paired it with iced tea and it worked out well. Scoring for the cigar is 3/5, I would seek out a 5 pack of these if you like a decent, straightforward cigar with huge earthy notes. I’m not sure how available these are on the market at the current time. I wish I had another to compare it to and see if I had any changes between them. Until next time Ruffians, as always, Do something nice for someone, and smoke well! (*Editors footnote, I will be sending a couple more for T-Money to try and then will update the review with his new findings. El Prez 06/03/2022)

Wrapper –  Mexican San Andrés

Binder – Honduran Habano

Filler – Brazilian (Mata Fina), Dominican Piloto Cubano, and Nicaraguan ligero

Website: available for purchase from

Price: $7.99 – $8.99 depending on vitola

Rating: 3 out of 5 pints

  • Travis Peterson AKA T Money is the Co-Captain of the Arizona/New Mexico Chapter of Distinguished Ruffians. He started his cigar journey in 2007 and hasn’t looked back. Outside of cigars he has a passion for brewing beer, playing guitar, bowling and golf. He is also a self proclaimed grilling and smoking expert. 

Nica Rustica Adobe Announced From Drew Estate

Drew Estate Nica Rustica Adobe

Drew Estate has revealed the secret identity of the mystery cigar inside its latest Freestyle Live Event Pack … the all-new Nica Rustica Adobe, the second expression in Drew Estate’s value-priced Nica Rustica line. Nica Rustica Adobe’s introduction happened during last night’s “Freestyle Live: Special Edition” broadcast, which aired from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern on the company’s Facebook Live page ( and YouTube channel (

The Nica Rustica brand is Drew Estate’s homage and tribute to Estelí, Nicaragua, home to La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. The soul of the lively romantic barrios of Estelí, adorned with their colorful colonial houses, magically comes to life in Nica Rustica Adobe, which will be available in three sizes: Toro (6 x 52), Robusto (5 x 54) and Gordo (6 x 60). While retaining many of the same characteristics as the Connecticut Broadleaf expression, Nica Rustica Adobe is the spicier version, using a Habano wrapper, Brazilian binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos from Estelí and Jalapa. Unpolished and unrefined, Nica Rustica Adobe is a medium- to full-bodied cigar that offers load of spice with a bold and very long finish … the perfect companion for adventurous cigar buffs.

Nica Rustica Adobe will be available in 25-count boxes that feature colorful original artwork by Subculture Studios’ Richard “Dog” Diaz, who captures the rugged, robust and rustic essence of Estelí. Diaz’s romantic vision of Estelí also incorporates the city’s official symbol and proud emblem, El Brujito, a petroglyph of a native shaman carved some 6,000 years ago onto a rock on a mountain near Estelí.

“Nica Rustica Adobe is a proud and no-nonsense cigar that represents our strong bond between La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate and its beautiful Nicaraguan home, where the mountains meet the sun,” says Jonathan Drew, Founder and President of Drew Estate. “We are united as one with the proud Estelíanos who work in and run our factory … and who bring the Drew Estate story to life every day around the world. From our house to your humidor, Nica Rustica Adobe is an audacious Habano experience that everyone at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate is excited for you to try.”

Nica Rustica Adobe provides excellent value for premium cigar smokers, from beginners to aficionados. Toro has an MSRP of $143.93/box or $5.76/cigar; Robusto’s MSRP is $129.93/box or $5.20/cigar; and Gordo has an MSRP of $161.93/box or $6.48/cigar. Guests at tonight’s DE25 Exclusive Pre-Party will be the first to experience Nica Rustica Adobe cigars.

Nica Rustica Adobe will also be featured during a two-day Drew Estate event at The Humidour Cigar Shoppe. Jonathan Drew kicks off the extravaganza with a marquee virtual event on Thursday, May 19, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The next day, La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate Factory Spokesman, Pedro Gomez, will host an in-person event at The Humidour Cigar Shoppe from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. with deals on all Drew Estate products available throughout the day. Contact The Humidour Cigar Shoppe at 410-666-3212 or visit for more information about these events.

Nica Rustica Adobe will be available for regular distribution to all retailers beginning in August.