Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Size: 5 x 56 Robusto
I got a box of 20 on Cbid for $63.50 or $3.18 each.
Today we take a look at the AJ Fernandez Rosa de Guadalupe.
I have allowed the cigars to rest naked in my humidor for 2 months.
Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
Released July 2019
There is zero information on this cigar from the Fernandez camp.
I’m guessing that this is due to the fact that Fernandez found a decent crop of Nicaraguan tobacco and turned it into a nice $7 stick. Nothing fancy. A good go-to and that’s it.
SIZES AND PRICING:
Gordo 6 x 60 $7.50
Robusto 5 x 56 $6.50
Toro 6.2 x 54 $7.00
This is a fancy shmancy looking $7 stick. Two cigar bands and a ribbon footer. It makes one wonder…is this the act of dressing up a less than stellar stick to draw in the suckers? Or is it because AJ Fernandez got a rippin’ deal on the tobacco and wanted smokers on a budget to feel like showing off their sticks while herfing? Let us find out together.
One note…I found a single written review and a single video review. The cigar has been around since July of this year. Normally, this is not good news for a cigar. The fact that I was able to pay less than half price for a box on Cbid says something. I believe that there is just not enough P.R. for the cigar in terms of a press release or online reviews. So, it might be something special that smokers are avoiding without knowing why.
The stick is hard as a rock. It weighs heavy in the hand. No give and no resistance whatsoever. Yet, seams are invisible and veinage is not bad at all. It appears to have a double cap but it is so efficiently applied, it is hard to tell.
The Mexican San Andrés wrapper is the color of espresso with some toothiness. In the sunlight, a reddish hue appears and the shiny oils are readily apparent.
SMELL THE GLOVE:
I get the normal aromas from a Nic cigar covered in a Mexican San Andrés wrapper: chocolate, malt, black pepper, espresso, some sweetness, cedar, barnyard…and a tartness, that to my schnoz, smells like dried apricot.
The cold draw has no draw. I grab my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool and with a couple reams to its head down to the cigar band, it still isn’t providing a clean draw. I ream the cigar to the end. Now…it has a perfect draw.
Once again with feeling…I taste strong earthiness, cedar, chocolate, malt, black pepper, there is that dried apricot again, but no real sweetness at hand.
I turn the music on and first thing played is Supertramp. I shudder. Back in the late 70’s, they were touring America and were staying in a very nice house in Laurel Canyon. They called me and invited me to come up for the day. I did. We jammed. I broke the neck of the bass player’s bass. Never heard from them again. I swear it was an accident.
To business…Reams of smoke spew forth into the atmosphere. First up is some complexity fueled by a nice strong black pepper (which makes me sneeze) and then some notes of sweet milk chocolate, malt, strong earthiness, a meaty smokiness, and cedar. Good start.
I tried one a week or so after I got them and thought…crap. I’ve found that AJ creations morph into really good cigars quicker than most blenders. This baby didn’t seem to follow instructions. I tried another a month or so in and found potential; but still not ready. Today, I believe is the day.
I like it. Transitions begin. I taste a nice finish that lingers. Strength is medium.
For a Robusto, this is a big ring gauge so it will be a long haul; especially as it is as packed as Polish-made kishka.
It takes exactly two minutes of smoking before the strength ups the ante to medium/full.
Billy Joel is playing. Have you noticed that since he hit his 60’s, he now looks a lot like Hannibal Lecter?
Oh, this is going to be a very, very strong cigar. I use my talisman tools to vanquish the up and coming nicotine…I need to be conscious to finish this review.
So far, it is smooth even though the strength has forced my testicles to pop out of my socks. They are looking for someplace safe. My schmekel is now a second belly button.
The blend reminds me a lot of his Man O War blend. Potent from the start. If I were blind taste testing this AJ Fernandez Rosa de Guadalupe, that is exactly what I would say it is.
It is currently 3 degrees outside. And I sit here with windows open freezing my tuchas off.
The burn is exceptional. A little bit surprised considering how stuffed this stick is.
At this point, the Guad is everything I expect from a $7 stick. Nothing fancy. A good knockaround cigar. Especially if you score them for $3 like I did on Cbid.
The flavors are sort of stuck in neutral. All aforementioned elements are accounted for but nothing new has been added at this point as I near the second third.
The complexity is like watching a Kardashian episode. Lots of booty but shallow.
I am absolutely sure that none of this tobacco was extensively aged. 6 months of prep and ready for sale. Now, it is up to the consumer to do the heavy lifting by allowing the cigar to rest for 4-6 months before lighting one up.
Ah, shit. The burn is fucking up. It’s a mess so I fix it with my blow torch lighter.
The black pepper begins to become a little overwhelming for my tastes. And the fact that it is sorely missing a balance of sweetness v. savory is off putting. This baby is screaming out for a sperm donor. Lots of spiciness but not a dollop of candy.
The ash has held steady but then falls directly into my lap forcing my nuts to hide underneath the table.
The first third started out nicely and then just sort of fell into that inexpensive cigar blend category. The initial complexity was heartening but flew away with the doves. Transitions are gone. The finish is just spice.
I am trying to decide if the cigar has potential and I just don’t know. The second half will tell all.
I take my first sip of water…Nope. Doesn’t help.
Basically, this is just an earthy cigar with notes of cedar and heavy pepper. Exactly what the online stores tell you a good cigar will taste like.
On the upside, it is a hearty blend. Very savory. Just not balanced…really needs some creaminess and sweetness to flesh things out properly.
I’m starting to think that the cigar is all dressed up but with no prom date.
On the upside 2.0, due to its girth and dense sausage packed condition, it is a slow burner. It will easily be a 90-minute smoke.
Black Sabbath is playing. I remember Ozzy. I know he doesn’t remember me.
Balance is everything….Lennon and McCartney, Phil and Don Everly, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, priests and little boys, Laurel and Hardy, liver and onions, Curved Air and the 12,000 musicians passing through the band, and a boner with someplace to go.
I am reticent to mention this as it may be a fleeting moment, but the cigar seems to be coming to life. The early complexity seems to be returning. The strength is tamped down a bit and the black pepper is not so damn strong. It is certainly a full tilt blend at this point. Not for the squeamish or trombone players.
A magical touch of creaminess finally appears.
The burn has remained OK since that debacle earlier.
I have to put a jacket on. My teeth are chattering.
Sweetness appears…thank you baby Jesus. It aligns with a kind of molasses/corn syrup situation. Nothing exotic but it helps the blend out immensely.
The AJ Fernandez Rosa de Guadalupe needs a lot more than the 2 months I’ve given it. I’d dump the review but I’m all in and I ain’t stopping and doing it again 3 months from now.
I look at the clock…this will be a nearly two-hour smoke.
You smoke a great cigar and time flies. You smoke a kielbasa and it takes forever.
I’m only at the halfway point and I’ve been huffing on this stick for an hour.
I get past the halfway point and life is evident. Real complexity appears. Transitions are engaged. The finish is pleasing. So whaddya’ know…it has potential with some serious aging.
If you have no palate, you’re going to love this cigar.
I believe this is the right spot to announce that I’m going to be a grandpa for the second time this July. Its older brother is only 2-1/2. Can’t wait to babysit. If anything gives me a stroke, this will do it. I told my daughter that if it’s a boy, I’d like him to be named Shmuel. It it’s a girl, Rivka. And Phyllis if it’s a lesbian.
The AJ Fernandez Rosa de Guadalupe is doing OK now. Finally, a nice balance occurs. Complexity is respectable. Smooth. Spiciness is in check. Finish is still just so-so.
But by no means, is this blend a flavor bomb. It is an earth moving machine. This ain’t the best tobacco in the world but with the right humidor time, it will be a nice cigar you can afford to keep in your humidor for times when you don’t have time to relish the experience. Plus, with its adornments, a great cigar to hand out to your mooch friends. They will be impressed with the pretty footer ribbon.
Man, its cold days like this that puts a smile on my face because I’m retired. Plus, no need to chase the errant Amazon delivery truck down the street because he forgot to stop here.
The Guad is very pleasant now. Only took 90 minutes to get here. And at least another 30 minutes to go. It is much smoother now than it has been.
Flavors finally perk up. I can taste the smoky meatiness that is complemented by the low-profile creaminess. The sweetness becomes distinct with elements of caramel and vanilla taffy. I taste chocolate covered espresso beans. The maltiness is very upfront now. But its most basic of components is its earthiness.
As full strength as this blend is, I am totally surprised by the total lack of nicotine poisoning.
The blend improves with each puff. The last third gives me hope that with enough humi time, this could be a much better experience.
The cigar finishes out at the two-hour mark.
What a long, strange trip it’s been.
And now for something completely different:
I played bass in Curved Air and the mixing of the “Live” album was finishing up at Air Studios in London. It was a two studio facility owned by George Martin (The Beatles’ producer).
We were almost complete and the rest of the band rarely showed up for the nuts and bolts portion of the mix. I was there every day. First, because I wanted to learn, and second, I got fed. Stewart Copeland, the drummer, felt the same way. So on this one particular day, the huge studio consisted of the engineer and producer; and the two of us.
I’ve reported in earlier stories that in the other studio right next to ours, the soundtrack to the movie, “Tommy” was being mixed and produced. I got to meet Pete Townshend one night because he was next door sort of guiding all the production. He also knew our chick singer very well; as our band had been around a long time…since 1969.
One night, late, Stew and I sat in the huge booth of the studio. We were doing some woodshedding. He was playing on a little miniature kit he bought and I was playing direct through head phones so we wouldn’t distract the production team.
Pete took a break and came over to visit with us. He sat down, put on a pair of head phones and smiled. He ran out of the room and got his guitar and plugged in. The three of us sat on the floor in the back of the booth jamming. And then all of a sudden, Pete stopped and told us we need to grab a vocal booth.
The vocal booth was about 10 feet square and was big so that there would be an organic reverb. It had removable panels of pie tins to aid in the reverb effect.
We got our gear into the room. Removed the panels to outside. And Pete told his production team to record what we were doing. Yes. Pete had the power to stop production on Tommy and divert it to a jam session in a closet.
Pete asked us to begin with what Stew and I were noodling with on the floor. He jumped in and holy shit! I felt I like I was in The Who.
Only Stew and I liked to play funky. A genre of music that had barely made it across the Atlantic Ocean from America and everyone was digging it. Pete loved it. He knew Jeff Beck had found himself a funky American rhythm section and was recording albums in this new style. That’s what Pete wanted to do.
So the Tommy production came to a sudden halt. We spent the hours between midnight til dawn playing our asses off. We didn’t do cocaine back then…just smoked hash. But instead of being drowsy, we were liberated. And energetic. What we didn’t know was that Pete was going through his heroin stage at that time. Yet, he didn’t act like it. He left a couple times for the loo and came back re-invigorated but we gave no thought to it.
Around 6am, we were spent. Totally exhausted and excited at the same time. I was a Southern California boy who was actually spending time with one of rock’s icons playing music together. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends back home.
I asked if I could have a copy of what we recorded and Pete said no. He didn’t want to see any of this bootleg stuff on the airwaves or sold secretly. I understood. But he did make one concession. He promised to mix the jam session down to its important parts, mix it, and then give me and Stew a copy. I smiled from ear to ear.
Stew and I went out for breakfast. We were so excited we could hardly eat.
The next night, we saw Pete for just a few minutes. The record label was angry that they spent an entire evening’s cost of the studio and nothing got done. So he had to focus on Tommy.
But he told us in a whisper, that wouldn’t it be nice if we could turn this into a side project for all of us. HOLY CRAP! I just kept nodding like a bobble doll.
I didn’t even care if I got paid. To be in a power trio with the legendary Pete Townshend was beyond belief.
And then…nothing…Pete didn’t have time for us anymore. He was struggling with finishing Tommy on schedule. And he was high on heroin.
Some informed sources told Stew and I about this and that we shouldn’t take anything Pete said as concrete. He was high all the time.
So, the power trio side project never happened. I never got my copy of the jam session. And I was depressed after being on such a huge high.
But ladies and germs, I still have the memory.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS