AJ Fernandez Last Call
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.
Released by AJ Fernandez earlier this year, the Last Call is a cigar that Fernandez would hand out to guests in the fourth quarter of NFL Monday and Thursday night games. It was such a hit that he decided to make it a regular production line under the new Portfolio Series. The Last Call was originally released in a single Habano wrapped 4 ½ x 48 Rothschild size called Geniales, but has since grown to include four other Habanos (Pequeñas 5 x 46, Corticas 4 x 52, Flaquitas 6 x 46, and Chiquitas 3 ½ x 50) and a Last Call Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapped Maduro line in the same sizes. It is produced at the Tabacalera Fernandez factory in Nicaragua. Pricing information for all of the sizes has proved difficult for me to gather, as they are brick and mortar only, but the Geniales that I will be reviewing today is $5 per cigar and comes in boxes of 25.
Purchased from one of my local B&M shops
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Size: Geniales 4 ½ x 48
Smoking time: One hour
Pairing: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
The Last Call comes uncellophaned and is draped in a uniform medium milk chocolate brown wrapper that shows minimal veining and a very firm pack. The roll has nearly invisible seams that lead to a well applied double cap, while the wrapper at the foot is neatly folded over to enclose it. The band is a simple one in red, beige, and light bronze/gold and goes well with the size of the cigar. The scent off of the wrapper is rather faint, most likely due to the fact that it has been sitting in my humidor for a month or so, but it does give off a light barnyard and tobacco aroma. The enclosed foot is much the same, although a little more intense. Despite the folded foot, a slight clop of the cap results in an ideal draw that reveals unlit flavors of cedar and spice, as well as a slight tingle on the lips.
I’ve never been sure about the best way to light a folded/closed foot cigar, but decided to go with a wooden match and light and puff without toasting to take full advantage of the extra wrapper. That results in a blast of pepper right off the bat, with damp earthiness and smoky oak in a fairly full body. The pepper calms down after a half-inch as the body settles into a medium mode. Not surprisingly, the use of a match in breezy conditions had produced an uneven burn line, but a very quick application of the torch had things back on track. The somewhat unevenly gray colored ash has fallen into my lap an inch in and crumbled on my porch. Before that happened, however, notes of soda cracker and musk stated to show up to combine with the earthiness, natural tobacco, toasty oak, and pepper pungency. By the end of the first half, the Last Call is burning razor sharp and dead even.
As the Last Call moves into its second half, the flavors, while not changing up much, continue to be enjoyable and smooth, with a faint nut showing up on the back end. Things continue to stay pretty much the same, until with 1 ½” to go, the earthiness downshifts, as more of the wood and nut come into play, and a bit of citric acidity emerges. The cigar smokes cool and firm down to the point where I can no longer hold it comfortably, ending up at a solid medium in body and low-medium in strength.
It seems that what I experience in my cigar smoking can’t always be adequately expressed in my write ups, and this is one of those times. While the Last Call is not the most complex of cigars, what it did present to me was an hour of thoroughly enjoyable smoke time. Good balanced flavors, superb construction and draw, and great smoke production, all at an easy to take price, – yeah, I’ll go for that anytime. After the one early and minor correction immediately after my initial light up, I didn’t have to think about reaching for my lighter. It’s a cigar that can be smoked any time of the day and go with a multitude of beverages. I paid a dollar more than MSRP for these sticks at my local shop due to our high tobacco taxes, but have no misgivings about paying that for the Last Call, and will continue to do so. I highly recommend giving it a try.
If you have read a number of reviews here, you would know that Tony is an absolute Dogfish Head junkie, and for good reason. Although some of their offerings are way out of my league in terms of price or availability, the 90 Minute IPA is not. It’s a great Imperial style IPA that displays a nice sweetness to go with caramel, dried fruits, and earthiness in a medium-full mouthfeel and a nice bitter (but not too bitter) finish to balance things out, which matches up extremely well with the AJ Fernandez Last Call. As I said above, however, this cigar would do just fine with just about any beverage, so almost any beer that is not too bitter, a nice fruity red wine, bourbon, Scotch, or rum – not to mention a good cup of coffee – would be a great way to go with it, although taking into account its football oriented origins, I would have to lean toward the beer or bourbon route.