Fiat Lux by Luciano Institutions | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan (Pueblo Nuevo, Jalapa and Ometepe)
Size: 5 x 50 ‘Institutions’
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $10.50

I’ve had these cigars hibernating naked for 5 months.
This cigar has been reviewed and reviewed and reviewed.
I won’t be divulging something you don’t already know about this cigar.
But I have held on to this cigar long enough time to get a solid blender’s intent.

I read several cigar industry reviews and while the cigar blend fared well, the descriptions of the flavor profile are very basic…certainly not a flavor wheel cigar. While some reviewers mention humidor time, I don’t think any of the big cigar industry reviewers mention this…so it’s hard to really know what to expect if you have patience and allow your cigar to breathe, meld with other cigars, and rest for an extended time.

While the cigar is a regular production item, a lot of online stores are sold out. I am guessing that new ones are on the way.

Release Date: September 2021
Regular Production
From Atlantic Cigar Co:
“For many years, ACE Prime has been producing award-winning cigars for some of the most high-profile brands in the industry through Tabacalera Pichardo, their facility in Esteli, Nicaragua. Founded by Don Eradio Pichardo and co-founder Luciano Meirelles in 2005. Tabacalera Pichardo has developed an outstanding reputation for producing some of the finest cigars in the world.

“Fiat Lux was blended by Meirelles and uses a high-priming Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper over a Nicaraguan-grown binder and filler, the latter of which comes from the Pueblo Nuevo, Jalapa and Ometepe regions. When the line was announced, the company said it is a blend that generates deliberation and provokes an exploration of flavors. The cigar gets its name from a Latin expression that means “let there be light,” and while it has biblical roots, it is often known for its usage during the intellectual movement of the Enlightenment.”

An aromatic start with notes of freshly baked bread, peanuts, caramel, black pepper, malt, milk chocolate, raisins, cedar, and rich tobacco.

The cold draw presents flavors of peanuts, toffee brickle, black pepper, creaminess, malt, slight citrus, bread, and cedar.

The draw is spot on, so my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool limps off on its one gimpy leg.

Nice flavorful start. Upon light up, the flotsam and jetsam are debriefed and noted as unimportant and discarded.

Like the other reviewers noted, the biggest impression is a woody, earthy flavor…backed by a well-rounded tobacco presentation.
The flavor points are strictly savory: peanuts, bread, malt, and cedar.

The construction seems just fine. The char line is crisp. The guts were amply installed and as a result, the cigar takes its time with its burn. Slow and easy. I used to be easy but now I’m just slow. Read that in a fortune cookie.

Being savory only throws the cigar out of balance based on what my palate likes. I need some creaminess and a bit of natural sweetness.
The black pepper is barely there. Not enough kaboom to give the cigar some edge.

Still, the cigar is intriguing enough to allow for my patience to be that of an adult. This is rare as I barely have patience for anything at this point in my life. I write about things that happened a long time ago because my best days are behind me. Nothing much fun to write about when you’re old. I have no resentment for seeing that mortality is something I think about often. Plus, I write so that my grandsons can read about their grandpa after I’m gone and when they are old enough to read my R rated drivel. My daughter will keep this site up long after I’m gone. My history is all here. I don’t want to be just a photo to my grandkids. And someone that they barely remember as they get older.

The Fiat Lux is cruising without significant changes. Complexity should be spelled with a small ‘c.’ The blend is barely keeping its head above water and possible mediocrity. It isn’t linear, but it isn’t a loving kiss to my palate either.

Strength is barely medium.

If I had decided to blind taste this cigar, I’d tell you it’s nothing special and not particularly interesting. I’d price it at $7.
It is a better than your average knock around cigar. But special, it ain’t.

At the halfway point, life emerges from the muck. Its gills are gone, and it is a biped.
Creaminess finally appears. Nuances that aren’t immediately labeled show up giving the cigar a little more backbone.
Spiciness also appears from the depths and gives the blend its rightful kick in the arse.

5 months is plenty of humidor time for the cigar to strut its stuff. But discovering that I needed to smoke the first half before getting to the sweet spot is disappointing. I should have been thrilled and enthralled from the start.

The blend begins to improve exponentially. I am happy. I didn’t want to bore myself and you, my fine friends, with a dud to the end. I hate that.

While the MSRP is $10.50, cheaper options are available if you look around. Because this cigar does not belong in the double-digit price range.

Sweetness makes its entrance: plum/prune, peanut brittle, and sweet tea.

If the cigar had started with this level of energy, its final rating would have been much better.

In the early 70’s, my band played the Enlisted Men Club at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Irvine, CA. We were a regular staple because we could mimic anyone with four lead vocalists…and me, who can’t sing. We heard from booking agents that complained they couldn’t get their bands gigs there because the Marines demanded us. One time, I discovered that my bass could be used as a self defense weapon. A friendly, but drunk, Marine thought he heard us laugh when he did a face plant on the dance floor. Naturally, he figured the bassist was the culprit. He ran at me with fists clenched. As he mounted the stage, I swung my bass so the head stock with those big tuning pegs hit him squarely in the puss sending him flying. The place erupted in applause. The guy I sent flying calmed down and apologized. It was always exciting playing there.

The development of the blend hits the stasis point. It stops improving. It seems happy to sit on the curb and spit sunflower seeds into the street.

Strength remains at medium.
The finish is upped. But transitions are minimal.

There are moments of excellence that appear for a minute or so and then it returns to its hiding place underneath the heavy foot that refuses to let this cigar shine.

Nothing unpleasant about this blend. No harshness or bitterness. No mustiness. It is a decent inexpensive blend…unless you pay full price.
And not a lick of nicotine.

Straight from the nether world, I taste pecan pie. And then it goes away.

This is a shame. It just doesn’t have that X factor. It tastes like a million slightly satisfying blends. Woulda’, Coulda’, Shoulda.’

With an inch to go, I incarcerate the stick to my ashtray only to wait for its future to be that of ending up in trash.


And now for something completely different:

I’m sure you have seen the 1996 Tom Hanks’ film, “That Thing You Do.” I love that movie as much as I love “Spinal Tap.” I began playing bass in the mid 1960’s and quickly joined my first rock band. Before, and during that time, I played 5 string banjo…my banjo teacher was John McEuen just before he joined the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

I was really into the folk/bluegrass music scene of the late 50’s and early 60’s. But my best friend, Skip, got a guitar and we would learn tunes together. The Beatles arrived and next thing I knew, Skip is making me play bass lines on my banjo. Rocky didn’t like that much. Next step was either book myself a room in the local saloon…or buy a 1964 Hofner bass guitar.

I was only 15 and had to have my mother drive me to gigs. So, getting my driver’s license was a welcome advancement for soothing the savage breast…and an end to my embarrassment. “Mom! Stop here. I will get my stuff out of the car and walk the rest of the way!” The other band members always gave me a lift home…why they never picked me up is a mystery to this day.

Hanks nailed the technical portion of the era, and the band’s equipment…right on the money. The Silvertone guitar made by Sears. The Dan Armstrong bass. I laughed the first time I saw the film because my guitarist, in my first band, played the Silvertone guitar, which came in a guitar case that also had a built-in 5-watt amplifier with 3” speaker. You stand the case up and the little speaker in the corner of the case’s interior. Guy Page actually used it for a while before he earned enough money for a small Fender amp.

My 50th high school reunion was in 2018 and 2000 miles away. They did have a web site for the occasion to connect with long lost friends. Guy registered and I immediately said hello. He was a great player. But no longer. He gave it up right after high school and had no interest in discussing our 3-year band journey. I found some girls I dated who didn’t think I was cool enough but seemed friendly after our reconnection. And then totally blew me off. Fuck. It is 52 years later, ladies…get the vibrating plugs out of your ass. Some people never grow out of the too cool for school mentality of being in the popular clique. You know the type…every photo is the happily married couple in front of some exotic locale and claiming, “Don’t you wish you were us??

It took me 6 months to save up for the Hofner. I paid a pawn shop in downtown Long Beach $4 a week ($33 in today’s market) to hold it for me. I then spent another three months practicing without an amp.

Thankfully, it was hollow so I used my bedroom wall as a diaphragm so I could hear it. I merely held the head stock against the wall.

My mother urged my father to buy me an amp and we went to Palos Verdes one day to a store owned by a family friend…who went on to screw my father and me by selling me a Knox amp.??? Knox? The damn thing worked maybe half the time and the only way I could get it to start working again was to kick it. That makes for quite a sight when you are on stage.

I liked the theater and was active in drama classes in high school and also the Long Beach Community Playhouse. One summer, 1966, they did a musical of “Take Her, She’s Mine.” I played bass in one number and banjo in the other. You don’t know how embarrassing it was to be playing a sweet soft folk love song with a great jazz guitarist and two good looking chicks (Go ahead…try to stop staring at those two pairs of legs); and have to go kick my amp in the middle of a live performance. It was humiliating.

I did enough whining after my folks saw me in the show; so, my dad, reluctantly, took me to Wallach’s Music City in Lakewood and bought me a real Fender Bassman amp. This was pure fucking heaven. I had a pro amp.

My band’s first name was “Renaissance Faire.” It sounded girly so we changed it. We re-named it, and that name I will never forget. This was nearing the height of Hippie Power in 1966. We called ourselves the “Southern California Exposition & Protest Musical Aggregation.” Elliot (last name redacted), our drummer, got it all on his kick drum’s head; thanks to his older brother who was a graphic designer.

We played out almost every weekend. Three players and a lead singer. We did all the cool tunes of the day. People went nuts when we played “Louie, Louie.” We would do a ‘freak out’ in the middle of the song. Lots of feedback, a bass solo…and I had bought a 1966 Vox V816 Distortion Booster and got some wild sounds by holding my hollow bodied Hofner up to my amp. You could hear the audience dropping blotter acid.

(Designed by Vox engineer Dick Denney, the V816 was a two-transistor fuzz box with a circuit similar to the Fuzz Face. Accord to Vox’s July 1966 price list, it could “create harmonics that are non-existent in the fundamental signal, resulting in a totally new tonal effect. It’s “boss”!)

The coolest memory I have of that group was the first week that Cream’s “Disraeli Gears” album came out in November of 1967. It had been out for only days when Guy came to us and said we had to learn this one song for the gig on Saturday. It was called “Sunshine of Your Love.” It remains a classic…unless you are a Millennial.

This gig was a step up for us. It was a college gig. Prior to this, we played high school dances and the Jewish Community Center. We averaged about $35 for each gig. That was $8.75 per guy. We could fill our bellies for $1 at Taco Bell…that got us 4 tacos, one tostada, one cup of refried beans, and a soda. And with our leftover dough, we put our shekels together and bought a “lid” of grass. Of course, after we did that, it was only an hour later before we were back at Taco Bell. We were all around 6 feet tall and weighed 135lbs…hollow leg syndrome.

Anyway, we learned ‘Sunshine’ immediately. The gig was at Cal State Long Beach in their gym/auditorium. It had a big stage about four and a half feet high. We were used to playing on the floor or a 6” riser platform. This was the big time.

The first song we played was the Cream song and the place went nuts. The girls clamored at our feet. They were actually trying to grab our legs like we were rock stars. It blew my mind, and it was then and there I decided to make my life’s ambition to be a musician and rock star.

We played that song once every set. Four times to be exact. And each time, it got the same reaction. I was very skinny with short nerdy hair. And the beautiful college girls wanted me. I’m sure I had a boner each time we played that song.

Now get this…I resurrected this dinosaur story from a 2013 cigar review. Out of the blue, Collin Whitley, a guitarist in Orange County, CA found my review and sent me a message via my blog’s comment apparatus.
He bought the drumhead off my first band’s (1965-1968) drum kit at a flea market 20 years ago at Cypress Community College. He loved the head so much, he framed it.

The band name was so 1960’s. The EK at the bottom of the head stands for drummer Elliot (last name redacted). When I started college in ’68, Elliot and I lost touch. Looked for him…can’t find him to this day.

Talk about a fast trip in Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine. Just got a 55-year trip back to the future.