It feels like it’s been forever, although I only took a week off! As the weather starts to warm slightly here I find myself in my back yard more and more. This time, a Hoyo La Armistada and a Sierra Nevada Trip in the Woods series Whiskey Barrel aged Ginger Bigfoot Barleywine are keeping my company.
The Good Stuff:
General Cigar and Hoyo have teamed up with the famous cigar maker AJ Fernandez to bring us the Hoyo La Armistad. The La Armistad is a limited production cigar that produced at the Tabacalera Fernandez factory in Nicaragua using an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and Nicaraguan fillers from the Esteli, Ometepe, Condega, and Jalapa regions. Here is what the cigar is about from the mouths of General Cigar and AJ himself (thanks leafenthusiast.com):
Hoyo La Amistad is bold and full-bodied, and showcases the artisanal cigar making techniques and modern packaging of the new Hoyo launched earlier this year. Named for the camaraderie forged when creating this exciting new release, La Amistad means friendship in Spanish.
Alan Willner, vice president of marketing for General Cigar said, “AJ Fernandez embodies the same ethos as the Hoyo brand. His passion for the craft of cigar making is what led us to collaborate with him on La Amistad. This collection combines AJ’s love of tobacco and blending with the knowledge of Hoyo’s cigar makers in Honduras and Nicaragua.”
AJ Fernandez noted, “I grew up very near to the Hoyo de Monterrey farm and I have always had a love for the brand. When it came time to develop this blend, I put my heart and soul into it. To me, this project represents how far my family and I have come since Cuba, and how our expertise in tobacco continues to be recognized. This cigar represents the best of me and my factory and I am proud to be a part of this collaboration.
The Hoyo La Armistad comes packaged in boxes of 20 with four formats available: Gigante (6 x 60), Robusto: 5 x 54), Rothschild (4.5 x 50), and the Toro (6 x 50) with run between $5.20 and $6.40 a stick.
Size: 5 x 54
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Pairing: Sierra Nevada Trip in the Woods series Whiskey Barrel aged Ginger Bigfoot (11.4% Barleywine)
The La Armistad is a beefy little stick. I normally don’t expect to see the 54 ring gauge on a robusto, and for some reason it feels as if it’s even wider. The wrapper on the cigar is absolutely stunning. It’s a dark, milky brown which is absolutely consistent in color while it showcases some heavy oils and a fair amount of tooth. There are a few larger veins running the course of the cigar’s body. The wrapper is actually pretty dense and hard for Ecuadorian Habano and the cigar is packed so tightly that it feels as hard as a rock as I compress it between my fingers. The wrapper is laid seamlessly over itself leading up to the big, snubby, double wrapped cap. The Hoyo La Armistad is polished off with a gold, white, and red band with the Hot Crest not the front a long with a secondary red and gold band touting “AJ Fernandez” along with his logo in the back.
The wrapper lets loose a ton of spice and sweet oak as soon as I removed it from the cellophane while the foot of the cigar is much more tame with trace amounts of pepper, spice, and natural tobacco aromas. The cap cut clean and easily using my Xikar double bladed cutter. The cold draw features bold spice, oak, musk, and earthiness.
The Hoyo La Armistad starts out with a massive cayenne pepper boom which hits me on the lips, gums, and back of my throat. Once the pepper begins to fade I am greeting with some great spice, musk, leather, sweet cedar, malt, and vanilla. The draw is fantastic. I was a little worried about it being packed too tightly, but each tiny puff kicks out a great amount of thick, white smoke which hangs around for quite sometime before dissipating while the cigar gives off a good amount of stationary smoke as it rests in my ashtray. The burn line is razor thin and dead even leaving behind a very tightly compacted trail of white, and light gray ash which held on for an inch before falling into my ashtray.
Into the second third of the Hoyo La Armistad and this flavor profile is killer. The pepper has faded and the cigar now leads with sweet cedar and spice backed by musk, vanilla, malt, and a bit of cherry. I’m really digging it. The retrohale brings out more of the pepper and sharp spice. The burn line is still absolutely perfect as I close out the second third with only a very slight nicotine kick.
As if the Hoyo La Armistad wasn’t already on fire (pun intended), the cigar really starts to shine in the final third. The sweet cedar has turned into a deep oak and the musk has really taken over the profile backed by the vanilla and spice with some soft clove, cherry, malt, and leather. The burn line has remained solid without any extra help the entire experience. As I venture into the final inch the spice, musk, and clove really take over. It took me almost two hours to taking this cigar down to the nub and I experienced absolutely no harshness, or extended head. I close out the cigar with a nice little nicotine kick.
Aj Fernandez has an outstanding track record of making incredible blends, as he’s done so time and time again, and the Hoyo La Armistad is no exception. I was pleasantly surprised to smoke a Hoyo with this amount of both body, and complexity. Usually they seem a bit tame, but the La Armistad took the chains off. The flavor profile remained balanced, yet bold enough to keep me on my toes the entire experience. The smoking experience was flawless, and let’s just place it this cigar gives you so much bang for you buck, what more can you want? Box-worthy for sure, and I’ll have to get even more to add to my regular rotation.
Having smoked the Hoyo La Armistad before, I knew it was a flavor bomb and could stand up to just about any pairing I throw at it. So, I decided to match it up against a beer that could put just about any flavor profile in a cigar to shame, Sierra Nevada Trip in the Woods series Whiskey Barrel Aged Ginger Bigfoot. Yup, you heard that right, Whiskey Barrel Aged Ginger Bigfoot. This barley wine comes in at a whopping 11.4% ABV and really packs a punch. Immediately you a socked in the face with bold ginger. Backing the ginger is spice, caramel, apple, malt, and some slight hop with a very heavy mouthfeel before finishing with even more ginger, apple, and malt. To say this is a bold beer is an understatement. While I feel the Hoyo La Armistad can measure up to just about any pairing, this particular one was a bit overboard. The ginger just really owned the whole thing. On the plus side, you add that ginger to the awesome flavor profile of the La Armistad and it can actually make a fantastic cigar even greater, depending on your opinion of ginger of course.