The Wise Man (El Güegüense) Maduro | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Binder: Nicaraguan Corojo ‘99
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Corona Gorda 5.625 x 46
Strength: Medium
Price: $10.00

Today we take a look at The Wise Man (El Güegüense) Maduro.
Tyler Jeffery (Get well buddy!) at Havana Lounge & Cigar took care of me for a couple sticks.

Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA)
From the Foundation Cigar web site:
“Foundation Cigar Company President Nicholas Melillo announces the release of The Wise Man (EL Güegüense) Maduro, for IPCPR 2017 in Las Vegas, NV. The release provides for a line extension to Melillo’s premier brand released during IPCPR 2015, where the Nicaraguan puro enjoyed a highly successful launch, going on to find inclusion in Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 list for 2016.

“Melillo blended the The Wise Man (El Güegüense) Maduro using Nicaraguan filler tobaccos from Condega, Esteli, and Jalapa and covered the cigar with a beautiful, oily, and rich San Andres Mexican Maduro wrapper. “We’ve enjoyed a lot of success with El Güegüense, and it is an honor for people to recognize a project that personally means so much to me.” says Melillo. “I was looking to create a line extension with a whole different level of complexity and the San Andrès wrapper brings just that. The blend encompasses bold flavors of black pepper, dark roast espresso and cacao. Medium plus in body and strength and rounded out with a nutty finish.”

“I have always been drawn to San Andrés, Mexico and have been buying tobacco there since 2003. The wrapper is one of my favorites, not to mention one of the oldest seed varieties in the world, which predates even Cuban seed. The combination of this unique capa and Nicaraguan fillers makes for an amazingly flavorful smoke.”

Corona Gorda 5.625 x 46 $10.00
Robusto 5.5 x 50 $10.50
Toro Huaco 6 x 56 $12.00
Torpedo 6.25 x 52 $11.50
Churchill 7 x 48 $11.00

The most striking part of the look of this cigar is the wrapper under direct sunlight. It has a marbled appearance that looks like rust with black bear paw prints.
I can feel a small plug about an inch from the cap. Other than that, the stick is evenly packed and firm. Lots of veins but seams are intact.

From the shaft, I can smell jalapeno, chocolate, espresso, new leather, cedar, molasses, and dried apricots.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell coffee grounds, dark cocoa, spicy pepper, cedar, new leather, dried meat, and molasses.

The cold draw presents flavors of little bits of coffee, clove, chocolate, cedar, black pepper, mineral, generic sweetness, and dried apricots.

There are two major plugs. The first near the cap and the second is at the halfway point. Out comes my trusty PerfecDraw cigar poker and I make mincemeat of the offending tobacco in the blink of an eye. Perfectly clear draw now.

The Wise Man starts out slow. A touch of black pepper is in control. A bit of sweetness, malt, coffee, and cocoa hang in the background.

I am haunted by box pressed sticks. They never burn correctly for me. There are exceptions of course, but I do believe I’m friggin cursed. I’m curious to see how this stick manages that bad juju.

A very short time later, things begin to percolate….like my intestines after Indian food. Funny thing about that. We downsized last year to a 2 bedroom apartment and we both hate it. I want my house back but we are too old and decrepit to take care of it; especially in our Wisconsin snowy winters.

We now live in a huge complex of apartments. 3 buildings with 110 apartments in each one. It’s like living in the projects. But it is a security building with intercoms and buzzers and locked access. Even the underground parking garage requires a key to enter.

For some reason, Indians (from India) put the word out and at least 75% of the occupants are wearing saris. The women too. Since the Midwest likes apartment buildings with apartments that open to hallways rather than the frigid outdoors, our living space reeks of curry 24/7. Now I love Indian food but to smell it every time I open our front door is too much. And not one of our neighbors has offered us a taste. Harrumph.

Where was I?

A nice creaminess takes over the charge. The spiciness is a combo of both black and red peppers. A generic sweetness is a good counterpoint. Flavors are not bold or a laundry list. So far, it is a simple straight ahead blend one would expect with the leaf stats being Nicaraguan and a Mexican wrapper. Been there, done that.

I like Foundation Cigars. They have cranked out some incredible blends.
Tobacco is jam packed. This will be a slow burn.
Strength is already past medium.
The burn is nothing to brag about.

This is a good cigar. But…there is nothing original about it. I’ve tasted this all before in a hundred other blends. After a while, the usual suspects of chocolate, coffee, cream, dried fruit, pepper, sweetness, etc, gets to be same ol’, same ol’.

The original El Güegüense was a great blend. I am not sure what path the The Wise Man (El Güegüense) Maduro is leading me down.

Not many reviews, at this time, of this cigar online. Remember, it was released several months ago so plenty of humidor time available. Maybe the blend needs 6 months of humi time. I don’t know. The original blend didn’t need that.

Smoke time is 30 minutes.

The ash is very flaky and can’t seem to hit over half an inch before disintegrating.
Nice subtle flavors but a long walk before it pops.

In actuality, I decided to smoke my first cigar of the day and The Wise Man (El Güegüense) Maduro seemed like a good choice. I made the decision to document the journey and if it was a hit out of the park, I’d publish it. If not, well let’s just say that I’d store what I’ve written for another time further down the road. So at this point, I’m not sure if I will publish this first outing with the Wise Man blend.

Strength has pulled back and is a solid medium.

There is no real complexity yet. Transitions are faint. The finish is just OK.
If I had to guess, I’d say it was a nice $6 stick. But it ain’t. It is a $10 cigar.

For those just training your palate, you will say you like this cigar but you don’t know why…you just know you like it. That’s because the flavors are muted. There is no slam dancing in the mosh pit. It is an even keeled, slow burning, Nicaraguan staple.

Foundation is no slouch to cigar blending. I’m perplexed. Few reviews of a cigar that’s been out for a while. That raises a red flag for me. Yet it might be old school blending requiring lots of humidor time and I’m smoking it too soon. The other reviews describe even less flavors than I am documenting.
And where are my beloved malts? Nada. That is exactly why I’m not going gaga over this blend. I gotta have my malts for balance.

The halfway point arrives after 45 minutes.
The strength is beginning to kick in with a little more pizazz.

It ups the anty on the flavor profile some. But what is really lacking are the transitions. Some cigars treat you to a constant rotational view of what a blend can offer in the right hands. Without significant transitions, a cigar becomes a one trick pony.

The finish transforms from nearly non-existent to something with a little more balls.

I want The Wise Man (El Güegüense) Maduro to do good. I’m pulling for it. I’m not on Foundation’s reviewer list. So I have no affiliation with them. But I do admire their tenacity at cranking out some very decent cigars.
Zero complexity. Bummer.
One trick pony.

But then, I am hopeful that the last third will allow me to envision what the blender had in mind with the right rest. I’m doing my best to be optimistic.
All this time, creaminess has been the driving force. Everything else is in the background fading in and out.
Malts arrive. Halle-fucking-leujah.

A big kick in the pants as it opens the door to some intensity. It doesn’t foment the much needed transitions but it does accentuate the barely visible flavors described earlier.
As I near the last third, I’m finally getting the vision of the blender. There are hints of complexity. The finish is decent.
But no sweet spots.

Smoke time is one hour 10 minutes.

The cigar becomes hot. With a touch of harshness. Wasn’t expecting that. Just the opposite, in fact. I had hoped the blend would really blossom by now.

With 1-1/2” to go, The Wise Man (El Güegüense) Maduro decides to brag.
Transitions show up late to the party. Real complexity begins.
What does this mean? That I smoked the cigar too soon? Or…it is what it is.

Over the years, I’ve found that blends that perform like The Wise Man (El Güegüense) Maduro are plentiful. A less than stellar beginning but ends like a champ. In half the cases, it is about sufficient humidor time. For others, it boils down to being just an ordinary blend. I have no idea which category The Wise Man belongs to.

This is frustrating. Flavors begin to present. But the harshness and heat I described is now more prevalent….drowning out important factions of the flavor base.

I knew it was too good to be true. I had a real run recently by reviewing some absolutely splendid cigars. I call The Wise Man (El Güegüense) Maduro coitus interruptus. My streak is over.

Little tantalizing bits of flavor show up for a few moments and then return to their bat cave. I try genuflecting in front of the ashtray. I use holy water to anoint my cat’s head.
The most consistent thing about this cigar is the flaky ash.

You gotta give Foundation the benefit of the doubt. They are just too good at what they do to produce a mediocre cigar blend. I believe this blend takes months before it’s ready to smoke.
Still, for those that haven’t tried this cigar yet, this review is a heads up to not do what I did…let your sticks rest for a long time.

Uh oh. Nicotine. The bane of my less than bulbous brain. First time I got to use alliteration in this review.
Where is the sweet spot? Where is the bridge? Where is the whole lotta’ love?

One thing I’m good at is recognizing potential in a blend that isn’t quite ready. Very often, that potential will shine in the last third. Ain’t happening here. Bummer 2.0.
I have one other stick. I will light it up on Chanukkah and get back to you.
Final smoke time is one hour 25 minutes.


ADDENDUM 2-11-2021: I just smoked one with 9 months of humi time. Nothing has changed. One trick pony all the way. And it had the same exact plug issues as the reviewed cigar. A plug at the cigar band and a plug about 2/3 down the shaft. The flavors are no better. No improvement whatsoever. The few written reviews gave this cigar a 90 or better. Hmmm…

After the review was published, I received an informative email from a cigar industry friend who is very successful in his own right with his own boutique brand:
Case in Point:
Your recent review of the El Güegüense.
Just by looking at the beautiful looking cigar, I could tell it isn’t ready…
Looks like he used all the correct: flavors of the month tobaccos.
Looks like the mix was correct.
But he didn’t use TIME.

“Each of the tobaccos he used, while very flavorful, are all very WET OILY tobaccos…
If he would have AGED each of the tobaccos separately, at different lengths for each, then rolled the blend, and then AGED the production until he felt it was blooming, regardless of TIME takes…I would bet Beelzebub that cigar would be a killer….

Keep in mind that the big small guys like Foundation etc, set a name, make packaging, blend the product, and put everything into production BEFORE…they have in their hands the final product…constrained by money. backers. deadlines etc…all sorts of stuff that’s out of their hands…including the gamble we all have that, just like a Hollywood movie that has the best script, the best director, and the A-List actors….and after they shoot a movie, its still less than 50/50 that it turns out great.”

“One more secret..
I would have blended it hot….2x pepper and spice, extra ligero…to keep power up after aging…..!!”

And now for something completely different:
The Eddie Munster Chronicles.

The record company had us touring. No band. Just Butch and me. Why? Because Eddie and the Monsters was Milli Vanilli.
All session players and me on bass. And a singer to pretend he was Butch. So we couldn’t play live which eventually hurt us.

But since Butch was already known as a child star, people came in droves to see him.
Butch had been out of the spotlight for years. Unlike now, where he makes a living going to washed up child star conventions and car shows; selling his Munster crap and signing autographs for a fee. His new wife works in the car show industry so he has it made from now on. She even got him to wear the original Eddie Munster make up at one appearance along with Marilyn (Pat Priest) Munster.

We were in Chicago. And we had a morning radio show to be at. WGN, I believe.
And lo and behold, they had also booked another band. The Peter Tork Project. Yes, that Peter Tork of the Monkees.
Freaked me out that Peter’s band was made up of really young guys dressed in complete Metal regalia. While Tork dressed in homeless casual.

We killed time and talked before the two of them went on.
All Tork talked about was how much he hated the Monkees. How it stifled him. How he got pushed around. How he didn’t make enough money, etc.

It got a little tiring hearing him piss and moan. Meanwhile, his band listened attentively filling in like a Baptist chorus, “Right on brother. Yeah, baby, etc.”

They were called in and we listened to the hour long interview in the “green room.”

And Tork took every opportunity to diss the Monkees. The DJ lapped it up. Meanwhile, Butch said nothing but nice things about his tenure on “The Munsters.” And his one-time appearance on The Monkees.

One of the things that shocked me was when Butch told me how much he was paid for that show. Back in the 60’s, seasons were 40 shows long. And they did only two seasons. Not long after that, the actor’s union got a royalty clause into their bargain.

Butch did all the 70’s TV shows as a guest….detective and police dramas, variety shows, and other TV shows like “Lidsville.” He got small royalties for those shows over the years but the checks got sent to his mother’s home in Gardena and she cashed and pocketed the money. So Butch redirected the checks to my house. I’d open them and see a $57 check for “Ironsides.” Or $35 for doing “Mannix.”

He was paid $400 per show and no royalties. He made a total of $32,000. He had every right to be bitter. The only person on that show that got royalties was Herman (Fred Gwynne). He was a smart business man and demanded a cut of the earnings.

Tork didn’t make much more.
Both Tork’s band and Butch were booked to appear at a happenin’ club that night. Tork’s band played while Butch mingled with the crowd signing autographs. They did show our music rock video on a big screen.

I sat down when Tork’s band went on stage. They played a total of 10 songs. I was anxious to hear what a metal band playing behind folkie Peter Tork sounded like.

Well gol durn it. Of the 10 songs, 8 were Monkees’ songs. He hated the whole Monkees concept and there he was…performing their songs. What a hypocrite. And the two metal songs they played were terrible.
Afterwards, Tork and I exchanged T shirts. I still have a few of the Eddie and the Monsters tees left. Occasionally, I sell a package of the 45 single, signed promo photo, DVD of the video and a tee shirt on Ebay. I haven’t done that in a while because they won’t really be worth any dough until he croaks. So I will leave all that to my daughter, Katie.

Butch had an alcohol problem. Coke was the only thing that kept him upright during his binges. And his appearances in clubs made it worse because everyone wanted to buy Butch Patrick a drink…or pack his nose.
I usually had to drag him back to the hotel kicking and screaming.
To be continued…


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3 replies

  1. The points raised by your friend concerning “time…” are those which trouble me every time I think of creating a cigar and decide not to bother—what if you blend it, box it, distribute it, etc….when it’s aged to the point of selling, you’ve still got a crapshoot, and could come out ahead, break even, or be destroyed, financially speaking, no matter how “killer” you think the blend “was,” and then that’s it for you. Or, “me” as the thinking goes.

  2. You have to be the only reviewer on the internet that didn’t love this stick. I can’t remember a time when once cigar dominated so many “Best of…” lists. Maybe come back to this one to see what all the fuss is about? Personally I have never tried it, mostly based on your less-than-stellar recommendation, but would love to hear your if your thoughts have changed. Thanks Katman!

  3. It was my opinion at the time. Maybe I fucked up. Maybe the others gave it too much credit to make nice to Foundation Cigar. Who knows? I’m just one smoker. Everyone loves what they love and hates what they hate. It is all highly subjective. Maybe I got a couple bad sticks. Doesn’t matter as everyone on the internet loved it so I believe my doubts about the blend will mean nothing in the end.

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