Pinolero by AJ Fernandez | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown & Pinolero Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Cuban Seed Nicaraguan & Fernandez Family Secret
Size: 6 x 52 “Toro”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $8.70


I want to thank Clay Roberts and Spencer Drake of AJ Fernandez Cigars for the samples.

This is a cigar I’ve reviewed before but not on this blog so here goes.

This is a good looking cigar. Lots of veins but the color of the medium brown caramel colored wrapper in the sunlight is beautiful. Unfortunately, it is snowy and windy here in Milwaukee and only 4°. So the sun comes and goes.

The wrapper is very smooth. The cigar is packed nicely to the gills. The Cuban pig tail is a nice touch. And I love the cigar band.

I clip the cap circumcision style removing only the wrapper with the pig tail and removing not a single piece of tobacco. It is also called the Yarmulke cut.


I find aromas of cocoa, sweetness, spice, barnyard, and ginger.
Time to light up.

A big swath of red pepper ninja attacks my palate. Wow. I like it.

The draw is very good. And then the flavors begin to roll in….sweetness and cocoa.

Normally, I don’t smoke cigars this big but as this was a gift, I couldn’t say no.

Smoke fills the room as my daughter comes into the kitchen on her way out the door to her EMT job. And she gives me hell for daring to smoke in the dining room. She lives here for free, pays nothing in return for room and board, and thinks she runs the place. She is 28. I will be dead before she moves out.

The char line is looking pretty good as I try to massage the steel rods out of me neck and stop the pain that is traveling down my right arm….from the lovely encounter with my reason for living that just left the building to save lives…and end mine.

The cigar becomes very nutty. The cocoa is cranking. The pepper has calmed down a bit. And the sun comes out now and again and I hope I captured the lovely caramel color of the wrapper.

I begin the second third and sweet luscious caramel appears. The cocoa continues to get stronger and I believe we are heading for flavor bomb status.

I can taste fruit…dates, black cherries, dried mango. Creaminess jumps in and gathers all the flavors up underneath its umbrella.

Man oh man. Everyone makes fun of me because I am such an AJ fan. Even the cigar forums make fun of me. That’s OK. The plain simple truth is that everything AJ touches is gold for me.

The char line is razor sharp.

We have flavor bomb status. And complexity as the cigar’s balance is just perfect. It is chewy with a long finish.

In order, here are the flavors: Nuttiness, cocoa, creaminess, caramel, fruit, sweetness, and spice. There are little dots of wood, leather and cedar as well.

This is a damn candy bar.

Now I’m glad I got the big Toro to smoke. More love.

Halfway point and I have no idea how much further it could possibly go. I am getting an avalanche of flavors. Everything is perfect. I take constant swigs of water to coat my palate in flavor.

I’ve got a good story I’ve never published before about my ex-rock god days. See below.

The house is empty. The blues is blaring from the sound system. And I am enjoying the hell out of this cigar.

Prior to this review, I smoked an expensive cigar that was only 5.5 x 46. It seemed to disappear in the blink of an eye. Good cigar but not enough.

One of the things I really like about AJ blends is they don’t take long humidor time to get the blender’s intent. A few weeks and they are screaming laughter. No waiting for months…like so many other old school blends.

The last third begins and the strength which has been at classic medium bodied this whole time has moved to full. I feel the nicotine kick. It’s OK. It forces me to slow down.

With only a couple inches to go, the complexity reaches for the moon. I wish I had finished pre-school before I had to go to work in the mines, so I would have the words to describe the flavors and richness and balance and nuances this cigar is producing.

The caramel element is hitting on all cylinders now. It even supplants the creaminess. The cocoa seems to surround it and with the nuttiness it seems as if I am eating a Turtle. The candy, not the animal. Although, chomping on a real turtle now and again between cigars is a real palate cleanser. They are a little squishy though.

The cigar band comes off perfectly. That’s what I’m talking about.

The music is great and I’m swaying while typing and smoking. Something only a pro can do.

The cigar finishes very nicely full of flavor and richness.
Thanks again Spence and Clay.

And now for something completely different:

1975. Recording at Island Studios in London…in the Jamaican district. Food was great there. It was nice being a rock star because you could tell the production assistants what to do like go get me some food. “Get the money from our tour manager.”
island studio

The building could accommodate two separate studios. So we were in Studio A and the Baker-Gurvitz Army was in Studio B. For you old timers, you remember Ginger Baker? The drummer in Cream? This was a follow up with two guys that were brothers from NYC.

I had to baby sit my girlfriend’s 3 year old daughter, Jenny, while she worked. I had basically finished my chores of laying down the bass tracks. Back then, we laid down the rhythm section first and then layered the rest of the instruments.

Hanging out in the booth during the rest of recording and mixing was a blast and I certainly didn’t have anything better to do. I was a star inside that building and got treated as such.

The studio had a nice lounge. And a couple of pin ball machines.

I was sitting on the couch eating my lunch when the “Army” came out for a break. Ginger walks over to one of the machines and drops some coins in. He plays for a few minutes when Jennifer slowly walks over and stands next to him, looking up at Ginger.
Ginger stops playing and grabs a milk crate and tilts it on one end. He motions Jennifer to stand on it. Now she’s at the perfect height to observe and even play as Ginger teaches her.

Ginger never says a word, even when a direct statement is pointed his way. He is completely focused on the game. Jennifer is making little screeches of joy as she gets the hang of it. Ginger is shaking the machine to make the ball do what he wants it to do. Jennifer imitates his motions. Remember, she is 3.

They do this for an hour. The band’s manager has been telling Ginger that they need to get back into the studio. Ginger ignores him for a while, but finally relents. He asks Jennifer her name and she hugs him. His eyes widen and it was the only time in a month of recording that I saw him smile.

As the days and weeks passed in the studio, Ginger’s time at the pin ball machine got longer and longer. I was happy because little Jenny was happy. Every night, she would chatter incessantly to her mother about her new friend, Ginger. This astounded her mother and she took me aside early and asked if I was always in their company? I nodded yes. There wasn’t a weird bone in Ginger’s drug addled body when it came to Jennifer. He was a Papa Bear.

During this time, the band’s manager pleaded with me to leave Jennifer at home. This was costing them a fortune. He even brought in the band’s wives to volunteer to baby sit her. Jennifer didn’t want them. She wanted Ginger. So, I refused. I told them that I didn’t know them and I wasn’t leaving her in their care.

So the manager got a hold of our manager, Miles Copeland, and pleaded with him to do something. He just shrugged it off and told the guy to control his talent. Not his problem.

At the end of a month, we were done in the studio. Ginger still had another month booked. It was a very tender moment when the two said good bye. Jennifer cried and hugged and hugged Ginger. She wouldn’t let go when I tried to take her away. Ginger looked at me and I could actually see tears welling. The man still had never said a word to me.

Jennifer asked every day if we were going back. She cried every time I told her no. I was sort of heartbroken for her. She had found an adult in her life beside her mother and I that she bonded with. And remember, we wrenched her away from all of her grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins when we took her to Europe. So this was the first genuine “love affair” she had. And she felt safe with Ginger. And with his reputation, that was rare.




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