Foundation Cigar Company Tabernacle
I’ve been a bit inconsistent as of late, with friends and family in town, a death in the family, work, and just about everything else but I should be back on track going forward. This week I spent time out back with a Foundation Cigar Company Tabernacle and a bottle of Prairie Artisan Ales Birthday Bomb!.
The Good Stuff:
Nick Melillo became a household name during the years he spent at Drew Estate creating some of the most beloved cigars ever created. A few years ago Nick announced he was going to make the jump and create his own cigar company called “Foundation Cigar Company”. Last year he released the debut brand El Güegüense which went on to claim many cigar of the year accolades including the #9 spot on my list. Foundation cigar company went on to showcase 4 new blends at this year’s IPCPR show in Vegas. I got my hands on all 4 and will be looking at all of them, starting with the Tabernacle.
Foundation Cigar Company’s website had all the information about the blend:
“BROADLEAF IS MORE THAN TOBACCO FOR ME. IT IS SOMETHING SACRED.”—NICHOLAS MELILLO”
The Tabernacle is Foundation Cigar Company’s newest super premium cigar, boasting a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and some of Nicaragua’s finest fillers. It is a combination of tastes that calls on founder Nicholas Melillo’s roots in the Connecticut River Valley and also his work with the finest artisanal tobacco batches in Nicaragua.
“I want to show my love for Connecticut Broadleaf,” says Melillo. “I was born in New Haven where, at the turn of the century, there were many cigar factories.”
Also wanting to continue showcasing the flavors of northern Nicaragua, Melillo blended The Tabernacle at AJ Fernandez’s factory in Esteli.
“AJ grows some of his tobacco on the farm, La Soledad, where I lived on when I first moved to Esteli in 2003. I know firsthand that AJ’s farm is blessed with the perfect location for growing filler tobaccos. He has incredible tobacco inventories and gave me full access to some of his best leaf for this project.”
The Tabernacle box tells the story of the cigar’s name. The artwork features an image of none other than Haile Selassie, 225th King of Abyssinia, whose lineage traces directly to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. The reference to “tabernacle” is as a container for the Ark of the Covenant.”
“They call me ‘Chief of the Broadleafs’ for a reason,” Melillo continues. “I have been working closely with farmers in Connecticut for over ten years. Broadleaf is more than tobacco for me. It is something sacred.”
On the outside, this cigar uses a CT Broadleaf wrapper, selected by Melillo for this project two years ago.
“AJ Fernandez has been meticulously fermenting this broadleaf wrapper and the combination of both of our passions for tobacco is dangerous.”
The Tabernacle also uses a San Andreas Mexico binder and filler from Jamastran Valley in Honduras, plus the Esteli and Jalapa Valley in Nicaragua.
And there you have it. I’m not one for always quoting straight out of the company’s site, but that’s good solid information on the blend there without all the fluff. The Foundation Cigar Company Tabernacle will be released in six sizes, the Torpedo (4 1/2 x 52), Corona (5 1/4 x 46), Robusto (5 x 50), Toro (6 x 52), Double Corona (7 x 54), and the Lancero (7 x 40). All of which will come packaged in 24 count boxes with the exception of the Lancero which will come in a 13 count box. The cigars will range between $9 and $12.50 a stick. These are already starting to trickle into retailers as I type this up. I purchased a handful of these over form our friends at Smoke Inn.
Size: 5 x 50
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Mexican San Andreas
Filler: Jamastran Honduran, Esteli and Jalapa Nicaraguan
Pairing: Prairie Artisan Ales Birthday Bomb! (Imperial Stout 13% ABV)
The Foundation Cigar Company Tabernacle showcases an absolutely stunning, deep, dark brown wrapper. The color is very consistent with only some smaller almost black areas scattered throughout. The cigar’s texture is incredibly toothy and grainy with a good amount of oil and a few larger veins running through the cigar’s body. The wrapper is very, very hard and thick while the rest of the cigar is very heavy and tightly packed. This cigar feels like a rock. The cigar is capped of with a round double wrapper cap and a black, grey, and gold embossed band which includes the previously mentioned Haile Selassie artwork as well as the Tabernacle crest.
The wrapper on the Tabernacle gives off some great sweetness, lots of spice, and tart tobacco while the foot of the cigar carries more cedar, earthiness, and natural tobacco aromas. The cap took a bit of effort from my Xikar double bladed cutter to clip, but the snip was clean. The cold draw produces some nice tobacco tart, cocoa, coffee, and sweetness.
The Foundation Cigar Company Tabernacle starts out with a great little black pepper bang which quickly faded after the first few puff leaving behind a whole ton of rich, dark chocolate, espresso, cinnamon and spice, sweetness, and some deep oak and musk. The cigar starts of with a ton of body right off the bat. The draw is flawless despite the cigar being so tightly packed. Each tiny, little puff kicks out a massive cloud of thick, white smoke while a good deal of smoke pours out of the cigar as it rests in my ashtray. The drawling is a bit rough, but not concerning as it leaves behind a brilliant trail of bright white ash which held on for about an inch before giving way.
Into the second third of The Foundation Cigar Company Tabernacle and the spice has started to let up some while the cocoa and espresso are owning the show backed by the musk and oak with some interesting caramel notes. The sweetness was very evident at the start of the cigar, but then dropped out only to make a huge comeback as I neared the end of the second third. The retrohale is very sharp coating my nasal passage with lots of spice and cedar. The burn line is still pretty wavy but not bothersome while I close out the second third with a decent bit of a nicotine.
Into the final third of The Foundation Cigar Company Tabernacle and the flavor has really change up quite a bit. First of all the sweetness and musk are now leaded the charge backed by the cocoa and espresso, caramel, tartness, and great little floral flavor the creeped in. The final third of this cigar is where it really makes an impression. The body is full, and the strength is full leaving me with a decent little nicotine kick, no harshness, and no extra heat.
Foundation Cigar Company knocks another one out of the park. The Tabernacle is a cigar packed with complexity, great flavors, bold body and strength, with a flawless experience. The price point is right where you would expect for an experience like this and now that Foundation Cigar Company has teamed up with Miami cigar for distribution you can expect to find their cigars much more easily. (NOTE: Miami is only distributing the Upsetters. Thanks Charlie for pointing this out!) This is a perfect cigar for those like me, who like bold, strong, complex cigars or even this novice cigar really looking to step their game up. I’ll be stocking up on these and adding them into my regular rotation.
Brewed at the Prairie Artisan Ales Brewery in Oklahoma this imperial stout comes in at a whopping 13% ABV. The beer is packed with coffee, vanilla beans, cacao nibs, and chili peppers. The beer starts out with lots of sweet chocolate, vanilla, sweetness, spice, and a bit of chili with a very heavy mouthfeel before finishing even sweeter with some more chocolate, milk, chili and spice. This beer tastes like a spicy, boozed up chocolate milk and I love it. It’s easy to see why I chose this beer to pair with the Tabernacle as the flavors are almost identical and both side of the pairing can hold their own. I would also consider pairing the Tabernacle with a Belgian strong ale, quad, or just about any imperial stout.