Blind Review – A. Fernandez Signature Series Robusto
Abdel Fernandez had been involved in the cigar industry for quite a long time. He has been involved with many different companies such as Rocky Patel, Gurkha and Padilla as well as some small batch cigars such as the Man O’ War (You can read the reviews of that cigar line here: MOW, MOW Ruination and the MOW Virtue). After all that work helping create blends for others he has finally released his own namesake line.
This cigar was another part of the blind trade I did not too long ago. This particular cigar was new to me but I did have a few of them in my humidor that I hadn’t yet tried. As you’ll see in this review, a proper pairing, at least for me, is extremely important. This is even more relevant when enjoying a full bodied cigar. Doing a blind trade can sometimes impact a proper pairing choice.
The A. Fernandez Signature Series is made in their factory located in Esteli, Nicaragua. Abdel also maintains a wonderful crop of tobacco and he personally oversees all aspects of the cigar making process. He was born in Cuba but raised in Nicaragua and has been a pivotal part of what has made Nicaraguan cigars so popular. I think that’s enough chatter for now, let’s get into this review.
Cigar: A Fernandez Signature Series
Drink: Waterloo Brewing Co. Dark Beer
Vitola: Robusto (5.5 x 50)
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Filler: Honduran and Nicaraguan Ligero
Price: about $5.00
Burn Time: 1.25 hours
• Light golden-brown wrapper
• No major veins and a nice oily sheen to it
• Clean triple cap
• Evenly round in construction
• Fairly firm from head to foot
• Foot looks well packed
• Cut was very messy and wrapper cracked in 2 places near the head
• Small cracks were forming just above the burnline all over the place but never caused any burn or draw issues until the end
• The cracks near the cap kept getting worse and worse as the cigar burned
• Toasting was very slow and uneven, didn’t seem to want to light up
• Burn has been nice and even, no problems in the first couple inches
• Staying lit easily without the need for extra draws
• Burning fairly quickly for this vitola
• The cracks in the wrapper caused the burn line to get wavy
• Once the wrapper stopped burning and the cigar started tunnelling all of the flavors went downhill
Smoke & Ash:
• Ash is nice and clean, light grey with some black spots
• Looks strong but falls off every inch or so right into the ashtray
• Smoke is moderate on the draw, a good amount
• Resting smoke is fairly abundant and gives off a burning wood type of aroma
• Wrapper aroma is fairly mild, slight tobacco and cedar scents
• Foot aroma is mainly of cedar with a bit of a sweet yet peppery kick
• Pre-light draw is mostly cedar with some peppery notes
• Initial flavors are mostly of toasted wood and a bit leathery, the initial pepper spice is also very abundant
• Retrohale is fairly mild with the same burning wood taste and a tiny kick of peppery spice
• Body has been in the mild-medium range for the first half
• Approaching the halfway mark, burnt wood and leather are still the dominant flavors, I pick up a touch of honey and spice here and there, but nothing exciting yet
• Not too dry on the palate
• Retrohale picked up a tiny kick in after the halfway mark but no new flavours
• The body began to ramp up into the full range as the cigar progressed
• Got very bitter in the last two inches and had to set it down early, most likely due to the messy wrapper near the end
The first half of this cigar was interesting with a burnt wood type of flavor and a bit of leather. There was also a fair bit of pepper throughout. Leather and pepper are not my favourite types of flavors in a cigar so this will heavily impact my opinion. There was a sense of complexity here that I know I overlooked since I was too focused on those two flavors that I just couldn’t enjoy the rest of this cigar to its full potential. Second half lost some flavour and didn’t change much else and the cracks near the head were getting progressively worse. Some damage in transport is also likely to blame here.
The pairing here was also a poor choice as you can read below. This is part of the learning process in a blind trade. It really teaches you how important a proper pairing can be with some cigars. It definitely detracted from a proper review of the cigar but still feel it was worth posting this to show how a blind review and sometimes work against a cigar. One suggestion I thought of after this is to recommend some pairing for you blind trades or at least mark a cigars strength so the person lighting it up can give it a fair opinion.
I had never had any ales from this Brewery before, it’s about 1.5 hours from where I live in Waterloo, Ontario. It’s a nice dark red beer with lots of flavor, very smooth and not bitter at all. Definitely something I would buy and enjoy again. It went well with this cigar but I wouldn’t pair it with anything stronger than a medium. This definitely had a negative impact on this cigar since it just wasn’t complimenting it properly. A coffee, port, sweet tea or soda would all mix well here.
I had a couple more of these in the humidor that I hadn’t tried yet. Since doing this blind review I did give them a try with a proper pairing and have to say that it was much better. It went perfectly with port and with some Glenlivet 12 year Scotch. I had more complexity out of the cigar and the flavors had some more dimensionality near then end. This is more of what I would expect from A. Fernandez. Again, another testament to how important a pairing can be and the learning process involved in these blind trades.