Casa Fernandez Guardian of the Farm Campeon | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Jalapa Corojo ’99
Binder: Nicaraguan Corojo ‘99
Filler: Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 and Corojo ‘99
Size: 6 x 52 Toro “Campeon”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $8.75 MSRP
Humidor time: 8 weeks
Number of cigars smoked prior to review: 2

1a

2a

Today we take a look at the Casa Fernandez Guardian of the Farm Campeon.
Many thanks to Eric Anderson for the sticks.

BACKGROUND:
From Cigar Aficionado (9-7-2016):
“Two young cigarmakers (and their dogs) have collaborated on a new blend. The latest project from Kyle Gellis of Warped Cigars and Max Fernandez of Casa Fernandez is called Guardian of the Farm, and it’s a brand named after the cigarmakers’ dogs; the faithful companions that roam the Aganorsa farms and keep watch over the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) factory in Nicaragua. Like Futuro, the pair’s first collaboration, Guardian of the Farm is an all-Nicaraguan blend of Aganorsa-grown tobaccos.

“It took about seven months, from start to finish [to create Guardian of the Farm],” Gellis told Cigar Aficionado. “It’s made with 100 percent Aganorsa tobacco.”

“The cigar is draped in a shade-grown Jalapa Corojo ’99 wrapper with a Corojo ’99 binder. The filler consists of Criollo ’98 and Corojo ’99. Unveiled at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show this year, Guardian of the Farm has launched in three sizes, each named after one of the pets: Campeon, at 6 inches by 52 ring gauge; JJ, at 5 1/4 by 50; and a limited-edition vitola called Apollo Selección De Warped, at 6 by 44. The cigars retail from $8.00 to $8.74 and ship in 25-count boxes.

“JJ and Campeon are on the ground at TABSA and on the farms, extremely vigilant Aganorsa-bred dogs,” Gellis said. JJ and Campeon belong to Max Fernandez and his father, Eduardo Fernandez, respectively. Apollo belongs to Gellis. While the brand name Guardian of the Farm refers to these animals, Gellis and Fernandez reveal there is a secondary meaning to the title.

“Our last collaboration was called Futuro (Future translated) because we are two young blenders who bring two palates and backgrounds into play,” Fernandez told Cigar Aficionado. “We want cigar smoking to be seen as something of the future as well as of our past. As a Cuban American, I want to see this craft brought forward by people like us. Naming our next collaboration Guardian of the Farm is about achieving the same destiny. For me, the farm is the crucial element in flavor for the smoker.”

“Gellis mirrors this sentiment: “We are both extremely young for the industry and want to make sure the integrity of the tradition is kept alive and strong while blending in new modern approaches. For myself and Max especially, this all starts at the farm level.”

“Respect for tobacco tradition and the art and science of growing and blending tobacco are all inextricable themes for Fernandez and Gellis. These ideas played heavily into the naming of Guardian of the Farm:
“For Kyle and I, the tradition of the masters of this art [growing and blending tobacco] is something we respect and want to continue to thrive … This is why with Guardian of the Farm, we’ve expressed how much the farm means [to us], because we define our passion by the quality of the leaf … We aspire to be good guardians of the leaf and its origins, essentially good guardians of the farm.”
“Unlike Futuro, whose distribution was handled by Warped, Guardian of the farm will be
distributed by Casa Fernandez. The cigar is rolled at Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA), in Nicaragua, where many Fernandez and Warped products are made. Guardian of the farm made its official debut at the IPCPR trade show in July, and is available now in stores.”

SIZES AND PRICING:
Robusto JJ 5.25 x 50 $8.50
Campeon Toro 6 x 52 $8.50
Lonsdale Apollo 6 x 44 $9.00 (Limited release)
Corona Cigar has them in stock. And these prices reflect their less than MSRP prices. I could not find another single online store that still has them. Tell Corona that the Katman sent you.

DESCRIPTION:
The oily stick has a nice cinnamon/gingerbread colored wrapper. The cap is almost a perfect 109 cap with triple caps that are beautifully constructed.
Seams are visible but tight. Lots of small veins. The stick feels jam packed in various places but there are several soft spots among the hard spots.
It finishes off with a closed foot. (Damn. That looks like an old vagina!)

3a

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I smell floral notes, honey, spice, raisins, coffee, cream, cedar, and mixed fruit.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I smell dark chocolate, spice, cream, dried fruit, black licorice, baking spices, cedar, and butterscotch.
The cold draw presents flavors of butterscotch, cream, spice, chocolate, coffee, cedar, graham cracker, dried fruit, and cardamom.

FIRST THIRD:
Smoke pours from the foot. A run begins immediately requiring my attention.
A nose blistering barrage of black pepper hits my sinuses.
Other flavors push through the onslaught of pepper: Creaminess, chocolate, coconut cream pie, malts, fruit, coffee, and cedar. Nice.
An excellent start. How many times have I said that before?

Eric sent me 3 sticks. I smoked one a couple weeks after I received them. No go. A very blah tasting cigar blend. I smoked the second one a few days ago and blam. It needed 8 weeks in my humidor.
Strength is a potent medium body.

Even though the stick feels like there are hard spots that might be plugs, the draw is like a wide open straw. No worries or angst called for.

Butterscotch becomes caramel. There is a beautiful crème brûlée essence to the finish.
Adding to that trend, I can taste Crème de cassis…a sweet, dark red liqueur made from blackcurrants. It replaces the raisin flavor. This has now transitioned to a low spark of high heeled boys.

I get a big plug at the cigar band level. I seem to find that plug location a place of consternation for some reason. Why would at least 50% of plugs occur at this position in the cigar?
I use my cigar awl and the flow opens up like a seagull being screwed by a walrus.
Goo goo g’joob.
A slow smoke. Easy to savor with what it brings to the table.

4a

At this early stage of the cigar experience, the Casa Fernandez Guardian of the Farm Campeon is super complex. Nice transitional phases.
This has now become an exceptional blend. You can’t see it but there is a big smile on my face.
With each puff, the wonderful flavors are reinforced and enhanced.
This is my kind of blend.

And the price. Those sons of a bitch’s that charge mid teen dollars for basically inferior cigars piss me off. Especially, when I discover a great blend for half that price. Why is that? Why can some manufacturers make phenomenal cigars, with back in the day pricing, and others are greedy assholes?
A lot has to do with the PR campaign. The big companies spend a fortune making you want to try their new cigar. Who pays that fee? You do.
Don’t advertise and let word of mouth do your bidding, and voila, a reasonably priced high premium blend.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 40 minutes.
The joint venture of Warped and Casa Fernandez has another Guardian of the Farm blend and is getting all the attention as far as reviews go. I don’t understand. I’m sure it is a very good cigar but then so is this version. Worthy of being written about.

With only 2” burned, I am going to make a bold statement that I hope I don’t have to retract. The Casa Fernandez Guardian of the Farm Campeon will be on my top 25 cigars list of 2016.

There is a warmth and depth to the character of this blend that is very comforting. Like meat and potatoes.
Here they are: Creaminess, chocolate, Crème de cassis, cedar, fresh summer fruit, graham cracker, black licorice, caramel, crème brûlée, coconut, malts, baking spices, and coffee.
This is a unique blend. Eric, I will adopt you. I will contact my lawyer tomorrow to start proceedings.

5a

The Casa Fernandez Guardian of the Farm Campeon Toro has all the intensity of a Corona Gorda. Rare for a Toro.
Construction is impressive except for two touch ups required on the char line.
Strength hits medium/full.

I shall have my first cup of coffee of the day and see how that influences the blend.

The halfway point is upon me. Smoke time is over an hour.
My cup of coffee really brings out that mocha java flavor plus the creaminess, caramel, and malts in the blend.

6a

A flavor shift occurs. Added to this kitchen sink: black cherry, sweet raw cashews, rye, and black tea.
The spiciness of the black pepper morphs into a very strong red pepper.
Dynamite cigar. Caution. Do not smoke it any sooner than a couple months in your humidor.

I don’t know how you feel about this but I have an opinion on the following subject. On the rare occasions that manufacturers or online stores send me cigars, I always ask what they suggest I do in terms of allowing the cigar to rest before reviewing it.
I swear that there are people making a living in the cigar industry that know nothing about cigars. I get answers like: “The cigar got 9 months of aging in the warehouse and then another 5 months in the boxes. So it should be ready to smoke right away.”
WTF? Since when?

I was gifted three sticks of Romeo Y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old. Now you’d think 11 years would make the stick ready to go. Not true. I smoked one a couple days after I received them and it had no flavor.
Cigars must be stored, without their cellos, for an extended amount of time. That time depends on the blend. I’ve yet to have a good experience with a cigar ROTT.

I reply to my benefactors that, no, the cigar will not be ready to go immediately. It needs time to breathe. It will benefit from the blends of other cigars in my humidor. Aging in a warehouse does not make it a super cigar. That’s why I don’t like the Lost & Found (Impromptu) blends. They take seconds from various manufacturers (dying to get rid of them), dress them up with silly names, kitschy packaging, and loads of stupid PR and folks can’t wait to try them. What did P.T. Barnum say? Eventually, this shit comes back to haunt the manufacturer as sales plummet and word gets out that you are paying premium prices for subpar blends.

Anyway, I just needed to vent.

The robusto and Toro are regular production. The Lonsdale is a limited release. But all but one online store (Corona Cigar) has them backordered.

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is one hour 35 minutes.
I just reviewed the Rookie Cards by Ezra Zion and it will be in my top 25 list. Two reviews later, I discover another that will make that list.

As my man, Tom Jones sang:
“It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone
It’s not unusual to have fun with anyone
But when I see you hanging about with anyone
It’s not unusual to see me cry
Oh I wanna’ die.”

This song came out in 1965 when my grandpa took me to Israel and Europe and I had my first real girlfriend who was also on the synagogue tour of 50 people. That tune was a really big deal. And Jones’ first hit. It was the first song in which I got to dance with a real girl. I was a shy kid.
My girlfriend’s name was Frieda. Her parents were Polish immigrants. They hated me. The first time we made out, I kept getting nauseated from anxiety and kept running to the hotel bathroom with the imminent act of vomiting. I did that about half a dozen times before I settled down. Frieda thought I was nuts.
It was the first time I got to cop a feel and get to second base.

Frieda and I taken at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
frieda

The Casa Fernandez Guardian of the Farm Campeon is causing my palate to blister from the overwhelming explosion of flavor, character, and complexity.
I’d love to try the Warped/Casa Fernandez version. I’m a big fan of Warped.
Uh-oh. Char line run amok.

I have no idea how long Corona Cigar will still have these cigars in stock. And I don’t know when the other online stores will be re-stocked. So if I’ve influenced you, now is the time to pounce.
Strength is full body. The cigar is advertised as a medium blend. Don’t think so.
Nicotine is up at bat. I’m buzzing. Eyesight is blurry.

7a

Final smoke time is over 2 hours.
This was a nice surprise. The cigar is funky looking and unimpressive in its presentation. The packaging is deceptive.
Get some.

RATING: 95

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