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 The Tabernacle is said to have been dismantled and superseded by King Solomon.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.