Hoyo La Amistad Dark Sumatra by AJ Fernandez | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan, Dominican
Size: 4.5 x 50 Robusto ‘Espresso’
Strength: Full
Price: $8.00 (A buck less online ~ I paid $3.80 on Cigar Bid)

Today we take a look at the Hoyo La Amistad Dark Sumatra by AJ Fernandez.
I bought a fiver online several months ago.

Released mid-2019
Regular production
From Cigar Aficionado:
“Remember the Hoyo de Monterrey Dark Sumatra series from General Cigar? It was made in Honduras at the HATSA factory, but General has decided to give this sleepy brand a new life and a new name by turning the line over to cigarmaker A.J. Fernandez.

“Now called Hoyo La Amistad Dark Sumatra, the brand is made by Fernandez in Nicaragua for General—only the blend hasn’t changed.

“The blend is the same blend HATSA has used on this brand for a couple of decades,” says senior brand manager Ed Lahmann. “The blend is the original recipe, just rolled by A.J.’s people using his methods and techniques for fermentation and aging.”

“While the Espresso size is packaged in boxes of 20, the other two come in boxes of 25. General decided to drop the Ebano size from the original lineup, which was a 6 by 45 corona.

“According to Lahmann, the old Hoyo de Monterrey Dark Sumatras will be phased out “to make room for the reincarnated La Amistad Dark Sumatra.”

“This will mark the fourth cigar in the La Amistad line made by A.J. Fernandez for General, following the Hoyo La Amistad Gold, Hoyo La Amistad Silver and Hoyo La Amistad Black.”

Espresso Robusto: 4.5 x 50 $8.00
Media Noche Robusto Extra: 5.75 x 54 $8.50
Noche Toro: 6.5 x 52 $8.60

An OK looking stick. Seams are tight. Lots of veinage. A simple double cap. Hard as a rock. A plain brown paper bag hued wrapper. The double cigar bands are nice.

Aromas are somewhat muted; but I detect milk chocolate, malt, cedar, black pepper, a touch of butterscotch, and that’s all folks.
The cold draw presents flavors of milk chocolate, cedar, malt, cinnamon, black pepper, and butterscotch.

I wavered on choosing this cigar to review. Only one single review out there. Never a good sign. I’ve had these cigars a couple months. And it may be that the smoking public has rejected this version of another AJ induced blend for another cigar company. I paid less than $4…half of the going price. If needed, I will drop as many ‘F’ bombs as necessary if this cigar disappoints.

Immediately, the wrapper fractures at the cap. It wasn’t me. Or my humidor. Not a good start.

Even if the draw is verklempt, I don’t dare use my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool. It might cause additional fracking as the cigar’s wrapper is super delicate, and already broken, so I’d like to play it safe.

The stick starts off with a nuclear black pepper bomb.
Only a small percentage of smokers truly enjoy full tilt blends…which could explain the less than stellar sales of this blend. Most smokers enjoy medium strength.

Thank goodness the draw is fine.

The only thing I can taste is the back of my throat coated in asphalt. Damn. I gave these babies 2 months of naked humi time. And there might be the next reason that this blend may not be as popular as the other AJ Hoyos.

Strength is an immediate full metal to the pedal.

I’m glad I chose the tiny Robusto instead of the bigger Robusto or the Toro. If the assault of black pepper does not relent, I don’t want to suffer through a ginormous sized stick.

So far, the music I’m listening to is dismal…always a sign from the gods.

I’m half an inch in and nothing but spiciness. If this baby wants to avoid being called a dog turd by me, it better calm way the fuck down and soon.

I’ll be working at Prime Cigar in Brookfield Wisconsin this weekend. C’mon by. I’ll be the guy dressed as a big cigar out front holding a sign that says $4 beer specials.

All right…finally…”Rock And Roll All Night” by Kiss. There is hope.

Bits of creaminess appear that cools down some of that over exuberant black powder. Some very black coffee shows up. I’m smacking my lips trying to find other flavors and all I’m doing is getting the cat hot.

Zero complexity. Zero transitions. The finish is guess what?

“Honky Tonk Woman” by the Stones…I’m so old…(How old are you?)…that I played it in a cover band when the song came out in 1969. The chicks loved it though…

Ooh…ooh. A change is brewing. The creaminess begins to battle to the death with the black plague. It took one inch of the cigar to get here…3-1/2” to go. (If I had a dime every time a woman said that to me, well…)

Sweetness appears…Halle-fucking-leujah. It is chocolate. It is fruity…maybe a berry essence. The butterscotch morphs to caramel. This is good news. And the spiciness begins its fall back position.

Now, some complexity hits my palate. It is still Triple A but still; a good sign.
I will say this…$8.00? Who are we kidding? $4.00? Perfect.
You buy this from a B&M and pay MSRP plus taxes…I’d be pissed off.

Normally, I juggle the cigar bands around so I can get my photos right. These things are welded on using MIG.

Maybe I’m jinxing it, but this would never be a go-to cigar for me.
The creaminess is the only savior of this blend. Still not a single significant transition. I know why the cigar industry reviewers didn’t touch this blend with a 10-foot pole.

Yet, as I write those words, the only site that reviewed it gave it a 95! Wow. I gotta write them and ask if I can buy the drugs they get because I am clearly smoking the wrong stuff. Shrooms would be nice too.

“If Not For You” by Dylan. Great tune. How did it make it to this musical lineup?

The first half was a test of my patience. This cigar should be wandering the Gobi Desert without a canteen or a lighter.

You may disagree with me, but sometimes I think AJ spreads himself too thin. I don’t work in the cigar industry so I can only conjecture. Does he involve himself in every blend that comes out of his factory? Does he have dependables that do the heavy lifting while he is working on some of his greatest ventures?

I’m an AJ fan. But sometimes, he just misses the mark.

I sort of get the blender’s intent on this blend. But something went wrong. Yet, they decided to release it anyway. Money talks.

All right…Joe Walsh…I love that fucker.

No balance. No nuttin’, honey.

Nothing subtle about this cigar. The cat keeps trying to get it out of my hands so he can bury it in his litter box. He is one of those big Maine Coons so he can smoke panatelas.

If this cigar’s price point was actually $4, I’d say that you smokers who like full strength blends with a deep pool of black pepper, go for it.

Except for the overly delicate wrapper, the construction has been fine. And no issues with the burn.

On another front…I’m getting some Jake Wyatt cigars from Neil Garcia today. They were just released for the first time a couple weeks ago and can be had on the Mardo Cigars web site. Beautiful looking sticks. Garcia was heavily involved in the Sinistro brand.

Vitamin N arrives on the tip of a nuclear warhead.

I’m killing time now. There will be no new revelations from the Hoyo La Amistad Dark Sumatra by AJ Fernandez. I’m just wasting my time now.
I’d love to be smoking a Casdagli, Southern Draw, or Isabela right now.

I think I paid too much at $4.
There is nothing about this cigar I like.

And we end this review with me listening to “Fire” by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

You can skip this cigar.
Your welcome.


And now for something completely different:

An old trusted musical partner from the 90’s lives in Naples, FL. He and I played together in a power blues trio in Phoenix. The Todd Hart Band (Website).

Todd is a brilliant vocalist and even became lead vocalist for the iconic British blues band Savoy Brown for a while.

Todd lives in Naples, Florida. And got slammed by Hurricane Irma in 2017.
I saw him on MSNBC in that photo op that Trump did showing him and Pence feeding the homeless. They showed Todd being civil and accepting a banana from the VP. Melania wasn’t as kind.

“Hey Phil, great to hear from you, pal…
Yeah it’s pretty rough here at Ground Zero for Irma, and you’re never ready even though you think you are. It was real crazy yesterday, I met the whole Chelou: Trump, Melania (wouldn’t shake hands), Pence, his wife, Governor Scott, and his wife. I shook hands with Trump and he said “man you got a hell of a grip there”, I said “I know.”
Just there for the 20 minute photo op. Trump handed me a sandwich and Pence handed me a banana, and they were gone. Very surreal to meet the whole crew especially like that, and especially since I loathe (redacted) and always have publicly.
Anyway my girlfriend and I are doing fine, sorta. This park that I live in is all pre-fab or what’s called manufactured homes, or site built homes. People call it a trailer park but there’s no trailers in here – my house is 1400 ft.² and there’s a lot bigger ones too.

“Most houses around me are devastated, but my house just got a couple little bumps from flying crap. We’re on a generator since the storm hit, no electric, no water, and one gas station in the whole town with a 6 mile line behind it because everybody’s running on a generator. I have a really cool rain barrel that I rigged up for just such an occasion and we have plenty-o-flushes and we do shower-can showers and stay delightfully fresh. I literally smell “rain water fresh” while I’m dictating this email to you, and will soon be going for “confident and secure”! Forecast the same again today: 92° – 100% humidity – there is a price for paradise.

“OK so it’s great that you were thinking of me, and hope we get to see each other again someday. Take care and I’ll try and stay in touch a little bit better after the cleanup. I do read your cigar page every once in a while though. My favorite cigar is an A. Fuente “short story”. I like them very mild. All the best old friend, stay safe.”

“PS. My street the day after the storm. My house is the one on the left with the crunched top corner.”

One of my favorite Todd Hart stories is about the time we became the official blues band for the Arizona Hells Angels:
Todd’s main income was the music, so we played out a lot…3-5 times per week. Forcing me to go to work the next morning bleary eyed. I would drive like a maniac after gigs to get home, shower (smoking was OK back then in bars), try to calm down, and then sleep for a solid 2-1/2 hours before I had to be at work at 6am. Lovely.

We had moved to Arizona in 1991 when California experienced a recession and construction went into the toilet. We stayed in Arizona until 2000 when I got a great job in the bay area of northern California.

I was working 3 jobs: my main gig as a construction project manager, my music gigs, and a contractor as a structural draftsman working out of my house. I was in my 40’s so I was healthy and fit, and while this was tiring, it kept my wallet filled and my stamina seemed unstoppable. Plus, it allowed my daughter and wife to steal from my wallet without abandon.

I played with Todd for a little over 2 years. We went through drummers like Spinal Tap. I believe one or two disappeared from spontaneous combustion. And one died choking on vomit…Not his.

Todd had a neighbor that was high up in the chain of the “board of directors” with the Hells Angels. He often came to see us play.

Soon thereafter, we were hired to play Hell’s Angels gigs. They loved us. But I didn’t love them. These were some nasty fellas. They scared the hell out of me. No pun intended.
Within a couple of months, we became the official Hells Angels band of Arizona. Just great. Something I always dreamed of.

They had moved into Arizona in the mid 90’s. Other outlaw biker clubs were given the opportunity to join or disappear.

This was truly an outlaw gang of thugs. Selling drugs and guns and making sure no one got in their way.

Now as you probably know, Arizona is the Wild West when it comes to guns. You can carry openly and you can carry concealed. A young kid can carry a gun as long as a parent is with them.

For the gigs, I always wore a Blues Brothers-type black coat. In the small of my back, I carried an IWB holster with a .45 caliber Glock 30. A subcompact. 13 +1 Rounds.

Whatever club we played, the Angels would take over the club for the night and the parking lot saw hundreds of bikes.
A coterie of Angels took turns guarding them…with guns in plain sight. It became horrifyingly apparent that none of these guys knew anything about guns. They just liked carrying them, looking badass. A lot of them wore the “Miami Vice” Don Johnson-type shoulder holster.

One night, during a break, I walked outside and began talking to a few of them; each with the Miami shoulder-holster-carry. I asked them to show me how they would draw the gun. And every one of them did it wrong.

If you pull the gun from the holster horizontally, you sweep the area in a partial arc as you bring the gun around towards your target. Not good.

Studies have shown that in an adrenaline situation, you pull the trigger 2.5 times before it is aimed at the target. So, sweeping the gun means you shoot innocent bystanders in that 90-degree circle sweep.

I showed them how to do it properly by pulling the gun out, immediately dropping the nose; first to the ground, then in a twisting motion, bring it up to the aiming position without sweeping it.
They all slapped me on the back and thanked me.

And then it hit me.
These guys are famous for drugs and gun running. There had to be at least one undercover ATF agent in the bunch. And he had just watched me show the Angels how to shoot their adversaries properly.

Christmas came around and we played their annual event in which they supposedly collected toys for disadvantaged kids. They rented an upscale restaurant in Scottsdale.

There was a huge box for the members to place their new toys. I looked into the box and there was nothing in there that cost more than $2. So much for taking the drive seriously.

I made the mistake of bringing along my wife, Charlotte, and our 12-year-old daughter, Katie. I don’t know what I was thinking. Stupid me…I thought it would be a semi-wholesome atmosphere with all the families there.

We came early to set up and do a sound check. I remember as huge hordes of bikes arrived shaking the ground with a rumble equal to 6.7 Godzillas wiping out thousands of Japanese civilians. Mothra picked up the pieces.
The kid started crying from the noise, holding on to my leg with dear life, and begged for us to leave. Great.

We had to sit through the entire meal and then the giving away of gifts through the use of lottery tickets bought by the folks arriving.
The MC had the foulest mouth I had ever heard. There were a ton of kids at the event; but this mattered not.
His language would have made Richard Pryor blush.

I don’t remember what we were paid, but it wasn’t enough.

This went on for well over an hour. We had now been in this place for hours and hours and all we wanted to do was play and get the hell out of there.
We sat at a table with 8 other Angels. I swear not a single one had an I.Q. over 40. And having teeth in their mouths was strictly optional.

We played a set and then took a break and oh my lord, they started doling out more gifts which sidelined us another hour.

It may have been the longest day in my musical career. Of course, the best part was all the biker chicks taking their tops off while we played in front of all the kids.

That was enough for Charlotte and she took the car and left for home; with the kid in tow.
We had a lot of Angels gigs booked but I just couldn’t do it anymore.

Shortly afterwards, I quit the band. Thankfully, Todd is doing great with his music and playing out all the time. He is a big hit in Australia and they treat him like a rock star whenever he travels there.


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5 replies

  1. I tried this cigar last year and found it to be excruciatingly boring and mediocre. So much so that I just couldn’t bring myself to try it again.

  2. I wish I could have been there for you, Abe.

  3. This cigar looked great on paper and in photos. Just goes to show…you never know. Before I got the chance to try one I noticed them on sale a little too much. That always makes me suspicious. Anyway, I enjoyed and appreciate the review, Katman.

  4. Hey Darryl,
    Getting them cheap is almost always a dead giveaway.

  5. Damn, that doesn’t align with my experience at all. I didn’t think much of it until the middle third, then the “woody cinnamon bread” arrived. Full-on, throw the loaf on a hickory campfire, toasted bakery + black coffee. I was hoping to see others document a similar experience. Oh well, maybe the Clynelish pairing was to blame. More empirical testing has been scheduled…

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