Tabacalera Fernandez began with just six rollers at a dilapidated facility in Estel, Nicaragua. Rather than introducing his own brand right once, Fernandez built a reputation as a cigar builder for other brands, such as the Rocky Patel Summer Blend 2008, which was made in Fernandez’s “Tafenic” plant in Estel.
A.J. Fernandez (born March 1979) made his name as the creator of the “Man O’War” and “Diesel” cigar brands sold by mail-order retailer Cigars International and its affiliates. Man O’War is a medium-to-full-bodied mix that was first introduced in the United States in 2009 and soon gained “near cult status,” according to modern cigar historian Richard B. Perelman. Man O’War Virtue, a mild-to-medium product wrapped in a claro colored leaf, and Man O’War Ruination, a full-bodied product wrapped in a Colorado-maduro leaf, were added to the brand in 2010. Man O’War Puro Authentico, a new blend manufactured as a typical Cuban-sized corona with a ragged foot, and Man O’War Armada, a limited-production super premium, were both debuted in 2011.
The Diesel line, which debuted in 2009, began with a single vitola a thick 5-inch belicoso dubbed the “Unholy Cocktail” by the firm. This was eventually augmented by the “Shorty,” a 60-ring robusto that was even shorter. Diesel Unlimited, a second full-bodied blend, was released in 2010 in four vitolas, including a gigantic 7-inch, 60-ring double corona.
Are diesel cigars made by A.J. Fernandez?
This is Diesel’s first region-specific mix, as the filler, binder, and wrapper all come from Fernandez’s farms in Estel, Nicaragua (the cigarmaker who creates the Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua Maestro, Cigar Aficionado’s 2019 Cigar of the Year).
What cigars are made by A.J. Fernandez?
AJ Fernandez is a small-batch cigar manufacturer best known for the San Lotano, New World, Bellas Artes, and Last Call brands, as well as a variety of Cuban-legacy editions of Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, Punch, and other brands. AJ Fernandez was born and reared in Pinar del Rio, Cuba’s famed tobacco-growing region, and began learning to grow, harvest, and ferment quality tobaccos at the age of thirteen. AJ Fernandez currently produces a well-received portfolio of mostly Nicaraguan blends, including the 93-rated San Lotano Dominicano, 93-rated New World Puro Especial, and 93-rated AJ Fernandez Last Call.
Who makes Ave Maria cigars?
This ultra-premium mix, made in AJ Fernandez’s facility in Nicaragua, is a brilliant example of a good boutique cigar. Each Ave Maria receives a perfect 10/10 in every category, from the exquisite package to the flawless performance.
Are diesel cigars flavored?
‘Diesel’s Hair’s Hair’s Hair’s Hair’ Cigar Aficionado gave this full-flavored, medium-bodied cigar a 90 rating, citing notes of pepper, spice, and leather.
What is a CAO cigar?
CAO Cigars is a well-known brand that has been manufacturing high-end cigars since 1998. CAO manufactures world-class cigars that are tasty and range from mild to full-bodied, thanks to its unique blends. CAO Cigars, based in Nashville, Tennessee, makes cigars from some of the finest tobacco farmed across the world. CAO has become a household name in the cigar market thanks to its world-class manufacturing, stringent quality control, and commitment to quality. Check out the whole CAO Cigars range below, which includes the well-knownCAO Brazilia and theCAO Gold.
What’s the best cigar brand?
Oliva is a top-selling premium Nicaraguan brand, with a long and successful track record of critical acclaim. Oliva Serie V Melanio earned 96 points and Cigar Aficionado’s prized ‘#1 Cigar of the Year’ accolade in 2014. The Oliva Serie V, rated 95, was named the ‘#2 Cigar of the Year’ in 2017. There are several well-known treasures in the Oliva range, including the 94-rated Oliva Serie O, the 92-rated Master Blends 3, and the sublime Oliva Monticello.
Are AJ Fernandez Cigars good?
This is A.J.’s world. A.J., who was born in the San Lus neighborhood of Pinar del Ro, Cuba, has dedicated his life to the tobacco industry. His father, Ismael, worked for Cuba’s agricultural department for tobacco, and A.J. currently works with him on many of his cigars. His grandpa was a cigar manufacturer who sold a brand called San Lutano in his hometown. (The residents of San Luis were known as “San Lutanos.”) Helping his grandfather strip leaves was one of A.J.’s first tobacco encounters as a child.
A.J. learnt from his father, as do most Cubans born into the tobacco trade, and at the age of 13 he went to work on a tobacco plantation called Finca La China after school.
But he also had two additional mentors: Riccardo Ledezma, a well-known tobacco planter from San Luis, and Alejandro Robaina, a well-known Cuban cigar maker.
The Robaina and Fernandez families were good friends. When A.J. met up with Alejandro, he would pay close attention. The key thing he took away from Alejandro that he still remembers is how different tobacco leaf blends may be “tinkered with,” as he puts it, “since you never know what you might fall upon.”
“Tobacco’s natural scent has always appealed to me. “I suppose it’s in my blood,” she says. A.J. Fernandez (A.J. Fernandez)
The Fernandez family is also related to the illustrious Plasencia clan. A.J.’s father’s cousin, Nestor Plasencia, is A.J.’s cousin, and Ismael left Cuba in 1995 to work with Nestor in Nicaragua. A.J. departed the island in 2003 on a family visa to join his father, but he never came back.
A.J. was blessed with an exceptional intuition – let’s call it “a nose” for selecting the greatest tobaccos, in addition to the information he gained from his family. One of the secrets to his success is his talent. He now owns and maintains multiple estate farms, the most famous of which is San Lotano (spelled with a ‘o’) in honor of his San Lutono ancestors, and after which several of his brands are named. The farms produce a variety of tobacco varieties, notably Cuban Criollo ’98 and Corojo ’99 varietals, but A.J. also performs a lot of experimenting, based on what he learned from Alejandro Robaina. Among the various hybrids he grows is a Broadleaf he labels “020379.”
AJ’s talent can be seen in cigars he’s manufactured alongside his father, Ismael, as well as cigars he’s made with industry heavyweights like Rocky Patel, the Plasencia family, and Altadis’ Grupo de Maestros. He’s also designed cigars for Southern Draw, Padilla, Graycliff, Gurkha, Diesel, Ramon Allones, and, most recently, Famous Smoke Shop’s 80th anniversary.
Despite the fact that I have loved several of A.J.’s cigars, I did not select the 10 AJ Fernandez cigars presented here based on my personal experience. They were crowned by Famous Smoke Shop customers who thought they earned the highest rating (5 stars), and I’ve included their thoughts on each cigar as well.
A.J. Fernandez Enclave Broadleaf Famous 80th Toro
Call it a shameless advertisement if you want, but AJ’s Enclave Broadleaf for Famous Smoke Shop knocked it out of the park… and it only needed a little box-pressing. The AJ Fernandez Enclave Broadleaf Famous 80th is a full-flavored Nicaraguan cigar with base notes of earth, oak, sweet spice, coffee bean, and subtle pepper. It’s perfect for AJ Fernandez fans and expert cigar smokers alike. Only 300 boxes were produced, and due to the low sticker price, a large portion of the stock has already been consumed.
Bellas Artes by AJ Fernandez Short Churchill
“This is a fantastic cigar. Great flavor, attractive appearance, and won’t drive people out of the room if smoked in public. This is now one of my favorite cigars. It’s so fantastic that I think it’ll make the Cigar Aficionado Top 5 next year.”
I wouldn’t describe this Churchill at six inches by 48 rings “It’s “short,” but it’s magnificent and provides a lengthy, full-bodied smoke to pass the time in the afternoon or evening. The many tobaccos utilized by AJ add to the intrigue of this box-pressed cigar. The Hybrid Rojita wrapper is both flavorful and beautiful, and it’s a great illustration of AJ’s ability to create some amazing varietals. Throughout, notes of cinnamon and other sweet spices blend with the odd citrus tang for a truly unforgettable experience.
Dias De Gloria Toro by AJ Fernandez
“Exceptional cigar! This A.J. Fernandez cigar is exactly what I’ve come to expect from him. It’s had a terrific composition, a lovely flavor profile, a great draw, and plenty of smoke!”
Expatriate Cubans may not agree with the way their homeland conducts its government, but they remain attached to their roots. Known as “Dias De Gloria, described as “a love letter to the golden era of the pre-Castro Cuban tobacco trade,” is one such example. All of the tobaccos in this vitola were aged for up to seven years and come from AJ’s four oldest farms in Estel, which explains for the creamy-smoothness of this vitola. For a rich-tasting and nuanced smoke in a wide ring configuration, base notes include cedar, cocoa, earth, and sweet spice.
“Absolutely fantastic.” I bought a box of these without first trying one. I had a feeling I’d like this one based on my previous experiences with AJF items, and I wasn’t disappointed! Lots of cedar and hay aromas, plenty of smoke, beautiful pull, perfect construction; dry, toasty, nuts, with a touch of pepper as you progress through the first half just delicious. It’s ridiculously cheap. For years to come, this will undoubtedly be a mainstay in my humidor.”
A.J. and his father, Ismael, created this affordable cigar as a tribute to the world’s BOTLs and SOTLs who have come to enjoy the greatest cigars. The Rosado wrapper from Ecuador is stunning, and it drapes a three-nation blend that includes a delicate Cameroon binder. The Enclave is a perfect illustration of how A.J.’s tobacco tinkering can generate a very pleasing outcome, with tastes of pepper, sweet spice, cedar, and a dash of cinnamon.
Indomina by AJ Fernandez Toro
“Excellent smoke from beginning to end. I’ve never had one that was too tightly rolled or burned unevenly. This cigar has a nice smooth, rich flavor. It’s now a must-have in my humidor, and at Famous’ prices, it’s a bargain!! If you get the opportunity, get a 5-pack!!
I was thrilled with the favorable reception on this vitola, which was made particularly for Famous Smoke Shop. Starting with a luxurious Ecuadorian Habano 2000 hybrid wrapper, a spicy Mexican San Andrés binder, and an all-Nicaraguan core, A.J. shows off his blending prowess once more. The end product is a silky, medium-bodied smoke with well-rounded earth, oak, and peppery and sweet spice tastes. Another advantage of Indomina is that when you buy a humijar of 20, it doubles as an extra humidor.
Last Call Habano by AJ Fernandez Geniales
“Wow. Based on my appreciation of A.J. Fernandez’s New Worlds, I tried this tiny gem for the first time. Tastes great, is smooth and mild, smokes slowly, produces a long ash, and burns your fingers because you can’t put it down. “Excellent draw, great burn, and no need to re-light.”
After watching pro football, A.J. produced Last Call as a gift to his pals. (And you, like A.J., were just interested in soccer.) Last Call had an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper, identical to the Enclave, but with a Nicaraguan leaf core. Last Call is smooth and well-balanced, with a peppery finish, and is spicy, woody, nutty, and semi-sweet. Last Call is a terrific value in addition to its excellent build. This highly rated Rothie is ideal for cigar aficionados looking for an everyday A.J.
New World by AJ Fernandez Belicoso
“These are fantastic cigarettes. The flavor and draw are both excellent, and the draw is silky smooth. “These are the next best thing to a 1964 Padron Anniversary!”
New World is a tribute to Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the West, and it’s one of the best puros in the A.J. Fernandez stable – it’s also made with his father, Ismael. The smoke has a medium-full body and a smooth, creamy flavor profile with notes of sweet and spicy pepper, earth, oak, berry notes, and a splash of chocolate and coffee bean. For cigar smokers with intermediate to advanced experience who enjoy dark, rich, full-flavored Nicaraguan cigars, this box-pressed figurado is a game-changer.
New World by AJ Fernandez Cameroon Selection Doble Robusto
“This is a scrumptious, scrumptious, scrumptious cigar!” What a shock! Sweet caramel and brown sugar flavors are tempered with black coffee, lemon, and cedar in this bad boy. THIS IS ONE YOU MUST TRY IF YOU LIKE SWEET NOTES IN YOUR CIGAR!”
I have to agree with Jay here, having smoked this box-pressed beauty myself in recent weeks. I’m also a big lover of Cameroon wrappers, which aren’t always at the top of many cigar smokers’ wish lists. African Cameroon can be great when done well, and A.J. chose an amazingly elastic, buttery, and aromatic leaf for this cigar. The Doble Robusto gives a virtual buffet of spice, cedar, coffee bean, and a nip of pepper, in addition to its sweeter flavor attributes. The smoke is hearty, complex, and well-balanced, with a low price tag. The New World Cameroon is a must-try for everyone inquisitive or skeptical about Cameroon wrapper.
Pantheon Solaris Churchill
“Wonderful cigar. Smooth, mellow, with a terrific draw and a delectable flavor. “They’re unbeatable.”
Another A.J. Famous unique cigar that’s become a success with Famous Smoke Shop customers is presented in bundles of 25 cigars.
A silky Connecticut wrapper covers a blend of mid-priming Nicaraguan long-fillers from the country’s three principal growing regions, making it ideal for every day, especially in the morning. The smoke is smooth and creamy, with notes of earth, sweet spice, cedar, coffee, and dried fruit. It pairs well with coffee. It sounds like a cigar you’d find in a box – and they taste like a much more costly cigar as well. Overall, this is a pleasant, easy-going cigar that will keep you satisfied on the golf course, when camping, hunting, fishing, or simply relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. Take note, newbies!
Ramon Allones Robusto
Nicaraguan Jalapa Corojo ’99, Condega Criollo ’98, Pueblo Nuevo Criollo ’98, and an Estel hybrid were used as filler.
“Incredible. This was a fantastic cigar. It has a modest spice tone to it at first, but it quickly develops into a full smoke of spice with nutty flavors. This robusto burns evenly and consistently, with a substantial body of spice and nuts. The scent is nice, spicy, and nutty, with floral undertones. In my 25 years of cigar smoking, this is one of the greatest rolled cigars I’ve ever smoked.”
When I first heard that A.J. Fernandez would be producing this famous cigar, I immediately thought of some of the classic films that have been remade and arguably should not have been. However, there are outliers, like as A.J., who has created the third edition of this venerable Cuban brand for General Cigar Co. The Dominican variety, which dates back to 1837 Cuba, was first presented by General in the 1970s, and subsequently marketed in 2001 with a Dominican-grown La Vega Especial wrapper. This all-Nicaraguan mix, with its dark, oily Medio-tiempo Habano Oscuro wrapper, is a true standout in the Robusto category. A.J. has kept the assertiveness of Ramon Allones without going overboard, and added complexity to the blend. Earth, pepper, nuts, sweet spice, espresso, dark chocolate, leather, and more lap the palate for one of A.J.’s most Cubanesque compositions. (It was also one of Ismael’s favorite cigars in Cuba, which added a personal touch to the project.) Anyone who has appreciated any of Ramon Allones’ prior versions will not want to miss this one.