I didn't know anything about A J Fernandez until I'd smoked several of his cigars. The Ruination and Virtue definitely got my interest, so I read about A J's operation at his new facility. Since then, I've been trying to sample all of his offerings. Looking forward to trying El Mayimbe when they're released, expecting something similar to Fallen Angel with a bit more complexity. Thanks for the review.
Review: El Mayimbe Toro (Prerelease)
Abdel “A.J.” Fernandez’s conquest into the brick and mortar humidors continued this year at the 2013 IPCPR trade show and convention by expanding the wrapper offering in two lines (Oval Connecticut and Pinolero Maduro) and by introducing an entirely new cigar: El Mayimbe.
Fernandez first mentioned the cigar back in March, telling Cigar.com’s Alex Svenson, “I will say that this year I’m releasing a true limited cigar called El Mayimbe. I developed it from a private reserve of tobaccos I’ve been patiently working with for several years now.”
On the eve of the trade show, we published the final details of the cigar:
The A.J. Fernandez Mayimbe is a limited edition cigar coming out of his new Tabacalera Fernandez S.A. factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. The term comes from the Taino Indians of the Quisqueya Island. Simply translated, it means “the Village Chief.” However, in modern day Latino culture the term means a person who everyone loves to be around, and a Mayimbe loves to be around people who are happy, fun and have a true passion for life.
The cigar uses a Pennsylvania Broadleaf Select wrapper with a binder from AJF Nicaragua binder and filler from Nicaragua along with Honduran Jamastran and a leaf called AJF Privativo. It will debut in four sizes, all coming in 10-count boxes.
The four sizes are:
- Robusto (5 x 56) — $14.40 (Boxes of 10, $144.00)
- Toro (6 x 56) — $14.60 (Boxes of 10, $146.00)
- Churchill (7 x 56) — $15.00 (Boxes of 10, $150.00)
- Torpedo (6 x 56) — $15.00 (Boxes of 10, $150.00)
Production is limited to 2,500 boxes of 10 for each size. Given the way the box is presented, i.e. 2013 edition, and how company officials described the cigar to us, it seems likely that there will be further editions on a yearly basis.
Brian took a few photographs of the boxes when he stopped by the booth at the trade show, here’s what they look like:
And the particulars.
- Cigar Reviewed: El Mayimbe Toro
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera Fernandez S.A.
- Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf
- Binder: Nicaraguan AJF
- Filler: Honduras (Jamastran) Nicaragua & AJF Privativo
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 56
- Vitola: Toro Grande
- MSRP: $14.60 (Boxes of 10, $146.00)
- Release Date: September 2013
- Number of Cigars to be Released: 2,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2
A few years ago this would have seemed like a gigantic cigar on appearance, these days, it’s just average. That changes when you hold it, but at least the cigar looks pretty. I am not a fan of the gigantic bands, but more on that later. Aroma from the El Mayimbe is fruity with strong touches of gingerbread and spices. That same gingerbread appears on the cold draw along with spices, lemon, orange and a touch of harshness. It’s one of the more complex and unique cold draws I’ve had of late.
While the draw of the El Mayimbe starts the first third a bit open for my taste, the flavors are awesome: cocoa, bread, leather and a lemon zest note on the finish. While it actually starts quite light, the flavors intensify as the cigar progresses eventually settling into a core dominated by an earthy note with cedar, leather and a mixture of red and black pepper. There’s a unique quality in just how detailed the flavors are and how well they work together. It’s definitely a full cigar by the one inch mark: strong in nicotine, fairly intense in flavor and paired with a logical body.
For me, the cigar actually gets smoother into the second third. That allows the El Mayimbe to display floral hints, a roasted dark nuttiness with cocoa and leather through the nose. The pepper mixture is almost entirely gone by this point, but there’s still spices on the back of the palate that provide the contrast. Elsewhere little has changed. The draw worked itself somewhere towards the end of the first third, but it’s still a bit more open than I’d like. Smoke production is still intense and the cigar is rather forgiving in that regards.
There’s much more citrus and nuttiness in the final third, a great way to end the cigar. The notes aren’t entirely unique to the El Mayimbe, but their refinement paired with the strength of the cigar is unique. While the flavors were not entirely new as general descriptions at this point, the way the present themselves is entirely new and doesn’t leave me wanting anymore, which doesn’t happen a whole lot.
- With exception of the outside of the box, I find the packaging of El Mayimbe to be quite bad. There’s a lot going on, a lot of it clashes and all of it is big, which doesn’t make me like it anymore.
- The trend of doing all of the vitolas in a specific ring gauge isn’t particularly new, I’m not sure I would have chosen 56 though.
- Interestingly, we were told Fernandez was still finalizing one of the sizes in the days leading up to the trade show.
- A.J. Fernandez opened up a huge new factory in Estelí, Nicaragua this year. I’m interested to go and see it, the general consensus is it feels like a resort, not a tobacco production facility.
- I mentioned it above, but the El Mayimbe’s greatest strength is providing a level of detail, strength and finesse that doesn’t leave me wanting anymore in a cigar. Is this the perfect cigar? No. Do I find very many “complete” cigars? Absolutely not.
- There are few people that really make their name producing cigars largely for catalogs. A.J. Fernandez is definitely one of those and after a few years on the brick and mortar side, it seems he has undoubtedly established himself in that form of retailing.
- El Mayimbe is a full cigar: strength, body and flavor.
- Pricing is a bit steep, but I think it’s more than worth it. Whether or not this picks up traction in retailers is a different story.
- Given the company’s history (San Lotano, Oval and Pinolero), you can at least start the speculation that there will be another wrapper for El Mayimbe next year.
- Cigars for this review were provided to halfwheel by A.J. Fernandez at IPCPR 2013.
- Final smoking time was just over two hours and 10 minutes.
- While El Mayimbe isn’t in stock yet, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar (800.887.7877), Best Cigar Prices (1.888.412.4427) and Superior Cigars (800.733.3397) all carry A.J. Fernandez product.
The Bottom Line: I have not been the largest fan of A.J. Fernandez’s first few releases. I don’t care for two of the three original San Lotano lines, Oval and Oval Maduro were better, but still not great for my palate and Pinolero is okay. El Mayimbe is neither simply “okay,” nor something normal readers of this site should overlook. This is the best cigar I’ve had from A.J. Fernandez by a fairly wide margin: it’s complex, balanced, full and most importantly—complete. There have been a lot of surprises from the 2013 show, many of them positive, none more so than this. For every complaint about the packaging, there’s a compliment about the cigar itself and then some.
Final Score: 91