AJ Fernandez Enclave
So, you guys should all be familiar with Jeff by now. He’s our honorary Casas Fumando writer, and he kicked out tons of great reviews. If he keeps this up we are going to force him to join us full time. Until then, enjoy his newest “Guest” review.
Cigars blended and/or manufactured by Abdel (AJ) Fernandez have certainly not been ignored here at Casas Fumando, as there are too many reviews of them in the archives to list or link to. Suffice to say that we are all fans of what he has put out ever since he burst onto the scene several years ago. The Enclave follows on the heels of the New World that he and his father Ismael introduced last year, and is a tribute to the community of cigar smokers the world over. Although I have yet to try the New World (I know, shame on me), the premise of the Enclave was too much for me to pass up on it for a review before I could get around to the New World. With all of the vitolas of the Enclave being of a 52 ring gauge, it is right up my alley in terms of size. Those sizes are Robusto 5×52, Toro 6×52, Figurado 6.5×52, and Churchill 7×52 and fall within the $6 – $7 range.
The cigars for review were once again provided by Cuenca Cigars.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado
Filler: AJF Select Nicaraguan and AJF Piloto Cubano
Size: Figurado 6.5 x 52
Pairing: Great Divide Claymore Scotch Ale (7.7% ABV)
The AJ Fernandez Enclave presents itself in an oily wrapper, uniformly medium brown in color and sporting a couple of medium sized veins. It is for the most part firmly packed with a few slightly softer spots, starting with a blunt foot and culminating in a sharply pointed cap. The main band is primarily blue, red, white, gold, and sepia, and depicts a Native American astride a horse, while the secondary band of red, blue, and gold reads “A.J. Fernandez”. The wrapper displays scents of tobacco and light earth. The foot gives off tobacco, earth, wood, and light coffee.
Snipping the cap, I’m greeted by a snug draw, but that may be the effect of the nearly closed foot, so we’ll see how that progresses. The flavors on the cold draw are light cedar and tobacco with a touch of sweetness.
Despite the slightly tight draw, the Enclave produces a decent of smoke featuring sweet cedar and just a hint of white pepper. Earth and leather become apparent, more so on the retrohale. Although I needed to make a quick correction due to the shape of the foot (i.e. my iffy lighting technique), the Enclave is now burning with thin and even line. The ash which is part white and part gray (again, most likely due to the shape) looks solid, save for a crack about ½” down, and sure enough, it falls on me ¾” in. The smoke output has increased and inch or so in, and the body has likewise gone up to a solid medium, bringing in a bit of musk and fleeting bread notes. It has become nice and smooth on the entry, while leaving a bit of lingering tickle on the back of the tongue and throat. Sweetness has become more apparent in the wood flavor, with bread on the retrohale.
Entering the second section of the AJ Fernandez Enclave, the cedar, earth, and leather continue to drive the flavors, while some bitter coffee and herbaceousness has come into play. The sweetness has backed off and the body continues to climb. With bitterness creeping up, I have given the stick a quick purge, and the sweeter notes immediately come rushing back. Since my initial touch-up, the Enclave has been burning beautifully, with a razor sharp and even line, although the ash still wants to drop off unexpectedly. The flavors have become earthier, and the woodiness darker.
The Enclave continues to smoke smoothly, picking up more pepper, and the body is now at medium-full and climbing, and so is the strength. There is a certain brightness that has entered the mix that helps to balance the darker flavors, and the sweetness has again come back into the picture. At the two hour mark, with the strength kicking at me and the body at nearly full, I put the cigar down, although it is still smoking cool and without harshness, even at this point with an inch left.
The AJ Fernandez Enclave turned out to be a solid smoke, which while not the most complex around, provided a good range of flavors with enough transitions to keep me interested in it. Construction and burn were top-notch, it smoked nice and slow, and the price is absolutely consumer friendly. Mild smokers and those who have an aversion to strong smokes might want to build up to this one, but for those who like their cigars on the stronger side, this would be a good one to pick up and try. It’s a worthy salute to the brotherhood/sisterhood of cigar smokers at a great price point. I’m now interested to see how it shows itself in one of the Parejo shapes.
After smoking my first Enclave, I decided that I wanted to go with something on the sweeter and smoother side, so I went with the Claymore Scotch Ale by Great Divide. While it does have a good amount of malty sweetness to it, it also is not so sweet as to be cloying. Medium bodied and balanced out with a touch of tartness, it proved to be a good match with the cigar, helping to bring out more of the sweetness of the Enclave, while not overpowering it. A strong ale or dark Belgian would also make for a great pairing.