AJ Fernandez

Bellas Artes Maduro From AJ Fernandez

AJ Fernandez Bellas Artes MaduroThe Bellas Artes from AJ Fernandez is inspired by the Bellas Artes National museum in Cuba, and if you’ve ever been able to go there it’s easy to understand why it’s an inspiration. The Bellas Artes stands as AJ Fernandez testament that making cigars is a fine art.

When looking at the cigar the most obvious thing to notice would be the incredibly dark Brazilian Malta Fina wrapper. It is burnt umber in color with lite veining, a slight oily sheen and a bit of toothyness to it. The seams are tight and the cigar has that pillow like feeling that box pressed cigars have and no dead spots could be found along the body. The smell from the body is cedar, tobacco and hay while from the foot a sweeter black licorice sent is noticed. The cold draw has the flavor of sweat tea and tobacco.

The first half has flavors of earth and spices with a sneaky sweet finish to it. The burn stays even with the exception of having to touch it up once early on but we can chalk that up to user error. The ash hold tightly for about 3/4″ before I chicken out and knock it loose. There is plenty of medium weight aromatic smoke that adds to the smoking experience.

In the second half the flavor kicks up a bit with stronger flavors of full tobacco and spice taking the wheel. The burn continues to be even throughout the cigar, the ash is perfect and the smoke production does not disappoint. Like most every thing from AJ the construction is flawless and smokes perfectly down to a nub.

The Bellas Artes Maduro is definitely finishes off strong and full in flavor it never becomes harsh. Typical of blends from the Fernandez cigar lines. This is a great smoke for an experienced smoker but, I would only recommend this for beginning smokers if you give them the caveat that this will be a lot of flavor and a fair amount of strength. Like I always say, how is someone going to know what they like if they don’t try things different from what they normally smoke. For me this is an easy go to cigar when I’m having trouble deciding what to smoke, if you haven’t tried it yet grab several the next time you see them at your local shop.

 

Wrapper: Brazilian Mata Fina
Binder: Mexico San Andrés
Filler: Nicaraguan
Price: Around $9.00 – $11.00 a stick.
Website: Ajfcigars.com
Rating: 4.6 out of 5 pints

 

New World Oscuro From AJ Fernandez

AJ Fernandez New World OscuroThe New World line from AJ Fernandez marks the first time he and his father Ismael have worked together to make a cigar. They consider this line to be a nod to the discovery of tobacco by Christopher Columbus and its introduction to the rest of the world in 1492. This core line debuted in 2014, then followed by New World Connecticut in 2015 and New World Puro Especial in 2017.

This cigar comes covered in a dark chocolaty wrapper that has very little veining and feels smooth to the touch. The seams are hardly visible and has the expected firm feeling from being box pressed. The body has the smell of cedar, earth and a bit of sweetness. The cigar cuts easily causing no damage, the preflight draw is easy and there is a noticeable flavor of dried apricots.

The first half inch has a good pepper kick to it but quickly settles into a more mellow smoke. It has a fresh baked bread like feel to it with chocolate and pepper on the finish. The smoke production is ample and it burns even requiring no touch ups.

The second half finds the spice and pepper intensifying again, there are loads of pepper with just a touch of sweetness and ends with the flavor of dark chocolate and pepper. Others have equated it t a Mexican hot chocolate and I’d say that’s probably a pretty accurate description. There is plenty of heavy weighted smoke given off and a burn that remains perfect for the entire cigar.

When it comes to finding cigars that are good but won’t break the bank the choices start to dwindle however, with the New World line you’re in luck. The chance to get a complex yet smooth cigar for under $8.00 is not easy these days. I felt this cigar landed on a profile of medium full to full combined with what I think was a fair amount of nicotine strength (everybody’s opinion is different on this and this is just mine) made this a great cigar. When you see them in your shop get at least a handful, at this price you can’t lose.

Wrapper: Dark Nicaragua
Binder: Jalapa
Filler: Ometepe, Condega, and Estelí
Price: Around $7.00 – $8.00 a stick
Website: Ajfcigars.com
Rating: 4.6 out of 5 pints

 

Diesel Whiskey Row

Diesel Whiskey RowBourbon seems to be the hot thing for the last while here, nearly overtaking the craft beer craze. So of course people started shoving leaves into barrels and aging them (that’s actually been happening for a while but I digress) it can, however, be tough to find one that actually tastes good. In comes AJ Fernandez to take care of that with a partnership between General Cigars and Rabbit Hole Distillery. In 2016 binder leaves were placed by AJ in Rabbit Hole whiskey barrels using a specific aging method and from there Diesel Whiskey Row came to life.

Diving into this thing the odor from the body is floral with lite notes of leather and oak. From the foot the smell is the same. The look of the cigar is attractive with a milk chocolate wrapper covering it. There is a light oily sheen to it and very few noticeable veins. Seams are tight and not remarkable but blend in with the body, the cigar feels full even firm to the touch. The cap is cut with no issues and it lights easily and evenly.

The first half brings flavors of rich tobacco with a slight bitter dark chocolate and spice on the finish. The burn continues to be sharp while the ash holds for about 1/2 inch at a time before falling. It produces plenty of medium weight, pleasant smelling, smoke. As the cigar progresses the spice dissipates.

The second half is more mellow with sweetness and bread flavors. This remains until nearly at the end where the spiciness does return. For the duration the cigar has burned properly and required no touching up of any kind.

While this is a barrel aged cigar it didn’t have that overwhelming flavor of being barrel aged and to me thats a good thing. Usually those flavors can over power the taste of the tobacco which is a disservice to it. The overall intensity is mild to medium which makes this cigar perfect to smoke at any time of the day. It also makes it accessible to all smokers regardless of palette. My recommendation is, if you see these in a shop pick some up

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Mexican San Andrés (Bourbon Barrel-Aged)
Filler: Nicaraguan (Ometepe | Condega | Jalapa)
Price: $8.00 per stick
Website: Diesel.com
Rating: 4.4 out of 5 pints