A wonderful gift from a reader. He sent me two of these and said they had plenty of humidor time.
As this is an AJ Fernandez blend, and it is way expensive, I have no doubt I will love it.
Of the three Ave Maria blends, this is the special one. There really is no background info on it. Most of the A List reviewers chose not to review it. So we will get straight to the review. Only 1600 boxes of 12 were produced.
Holy shit! It is BIG! I’m going to have another birthday before it’s finished. We are getting rain, just like a huge part of the country, and I am getting intermittent black sky/bright sky. My focakte photos will show that.
This is one of the most beautifully constructed cigars I’ve seen. Seams are visible but super tight. Like me. Lots of small veins. An oily, very toothy, Kona coffee bean colored wrapper, an impeccable triple cap, and absolutely perfect construction by a #9 roller.
The sunny photos show the depth of the toothiness and how oily this stick is. I am having a nervous breakdown trying to catch the photo in between the milliseconds of bright vs. dark.
I clip the cap and find aromas of espresso, cocoa, oak, spice, sweetness, green bell pepper, plump dark raisin, and leather.
Time to light up.
The draw is very tight so I resort to my cigar awl. Woks like a charm. The cigar is so densely packed I had hoped there would be no draw issues. Lately, I’ve reviewed several sticks that were light in their loafers. This stick is going to take some time to smoke.
The first puffs are cocoa and coffee elements. There is a heavy earthy presence. The strength starts out hitting classic medium body from the get go.
The char line behaves itself nicely.
Because the cigar is so jam packed, I can feel my jaws tiring because I chomp while I write. A very heavy cigar.
A hint of pepper begins to show.
The cigar is full of flavors but is not well defined yet. It feels more like a ball of confusion. It is just the start and I will allow it.
Here is what I taste so far: Cocoa, cream, sweetness, raisin, earthiness, leather, fruit, spice, oak, and leather. But one flavors mixes easily with another so it is sort of strange to get used to. It is very clear that this is a HIGH premium blend. Ptooey on the La Palina Family Blend series that cost a bit more than the Reconquista. This is a man’s cigar! Definitely for the trained palate. Newbies, go buy a Macanudo.
My reader friend, who I will keep anonymous, told me that he had 3 months of humidor time on these sticks.
He bought the whole smash. The 12 coffin box. I hate to say it but I don’t think 3 months is enough. I think AJ went Medieval on us for this stick. It is so jam packed that it is impossible for the leaves to marry and corn hole each other in only 3 months. I think this is a 6-9 month humidor cigar.
I took a look at a couple reviews and they said they were pelted with spicy pepper right up front. I am only getting a tiny slice of that pie.
Now, I’m not saying this isn’t a terrifically enjoyable cigar because it is. I just believe that the first third on this stick is more of a tease than a heart pounder.
The main flavors have now become distinct and easy to identify like the cocoa, creaminess, spice, earthiness, sweetness, coffee, fruit, oak, and leather.
I get a very buttery, smooth flavor that reminds me of English scones right out of the oven.
I have a peppercorn mill filled with rose, green, white, and black peppercorns. I bought it at Costco. This is the type of black pepper I taste. Not an iota of real red pepper.
Every single AJ Fernandez cigar is ready to go in no longer than 3 months humidor time. In fact, most of AJ’s blends are ready to go in 4 weeks. Some even sooner.
$16.00 is a lot of dough for one cigar. And in the few reviews I read about this cigar, not one mentioned how long they allowed the cigar to rest. I betcha’ a dollar they did the same thing as me. Smoked it too soon because we have been trained by AJ to expect a short humidor duration time.
So instead of saying that this cigar is AJ’s probable first blend that needs CAO or Patel-like humidor time, they write about the cigar’s potential instead of the actual blender’s intent. Which is what I am doing.
Since no A List reviewers reviewed this cigar, I can’t be sure of the accuracy of the other reviews.
I am enjoying the cigar but if I knew that this was all you get for your $16, I would laugh and fart until the dog hid under the bed.
I begin the second third. It is a lovely cigar. Just not potent and bold. We were all lured into our AJ comfort zone and figured a few months should be enough. It ain’t. Would it hurt the AJ people to put a label on the cigar coffin suggesting that you let it rest for 6 months before smoking it?
I checked Cbid and you can get the cigar for $11, or less. That’s a good deal. I bid a ridiculously low price which allowed me to be outbid and when the auction was over, I got to see what it went for.
Currently, they have a 5 pack going for $47; which ends tonight. And a sampler of 30 units of 3 that is going for $16. This ends on Wednesday. So in both cases, the price will probably be a buck or two less than the $11 I saw.
Halfway point and no changes whatsoever.
5 minutes past the halfway point, the spiciness makes a run for the border. It is very strong. Very possibly the strongest black pepper I’ve tasted. Nice change from the regular red pepper.
The strength is still at medium body.
The cigar is about to show me the blender’s intent. This confirms that the cigar needed more than three months. Very typical of a superb cigar, smoked green, and does not present the real intended flavors until the last third; instead of from the start.
I am so glad I did not give up on it. I have less than 3” to go and it’s taken me over 2 hours to get here. Under most circumstances, I would have been too bored and just walked away. That’s why I still prefer smaller cigars.
I figure I have another 30 minutes to go and now we have bona fide flavor bomb status. Ignore all my whining from earlier.
Ever visit the AJ web site? He doesn’t acknowledge all the blends he makes specifically for online stores. Only the San Lotano, Pinolero and the Mayimbe.
I’ve been sitting here for 2-1/2 hours and still not done. I don’t think I have it in me to write an after review story. Sorry. I have a good one that I will write tonight so it will be ready for tomorrow’s review.
I haven’t written about Butch Patrick in a while so I will dig him up.
Here are the flavors: Creaminess, black pepper, earthiness, cocoa, coffee, sweetness, raisin, butterscotch, oak, leather, and peaches.
This is what I was supposed to taste on the 10th puff.
Well, at least I know what this cigar is capable of.
A couple inches to go and the strength moves to medium/full bodied. Nicotine follows.
I’m worn out. I will probably let my other stick rest for another 3-5 months and try once more. I will report my findings then.
The flavor profile is super delicious. I can’t imagine a cigar more complex. The balance is perfect. And it has a long chewy finish. Wonderful.
Note: 7-3-2016: I am now smoking an Ave Maria Reconquista with well over a year’s humidor time. Yes, the flavors are all there plus some. But it starts off as a pepper bomb. Flavors are extremely discernible from the get go. Intense. Complex. Great cigar. But one needs a lot of patience.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS