Cornelius & Anthony had an interesting start in the cigar business.

The brand is owned by Stephen Bailey, who also owns S&M Brands, a company which makes cigarettes, e-cigarettes and pipe tobacco. When Cornelius & Anthony shows dup at the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, there was one cigar brand called Meridian.

Meridian never really seemed to make it to market in the 2015 form. By the next IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, there was a new Meridian coming from a new factory—La Zona instead of PDR Cigars—new packaging, a new blend and different sizes from the original.

It uses an Ecuadorian rosado wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers.

  • Meridian Corona Gorda (5 1/2 x 46) — $8.25 (Boxes of 20, $165)
  • Meridian Gordo (6 x 60) — $10.25 (Boxes of 20, $205)
  • Meridian Robusto (5 x 52) — $8.75 (Boxes of 20, $175)
  • Meridian Toro (6 x 50) — $8.25 (Boxes of 20, $165)

  • Cigar Reviewed: Cornelius & Anthony Meridian Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Zona Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $8.75 (Boxes of 20, $175)
  • Release Date: October 2016
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Aroma off the wrapper is sweet with some leather and acidity. The foot is a lot more detailed with some deep brownie sweetness over Worcestershire sauce and barbecue sauce along with a bit of toastiness. The cold draw reminds me of a dark chocolate raspberry cake with both of those flavors being pretty prominent. Behind that is some earth and spice. While the flavors are relatively consistent, the draw on the first sample is very open.

It doesn’t take long for that draw to show itself as a problem as the first sample offers no resistance, nearly no smoke and as such no flavor. As for the other two samples, the Meridian starts sweet with lots of walnuts and cashews, touches of tree bark and some umami that reminds me of fatty beef. The draw-inflicted sample gets relit a few times and retains a familiar nuttiness and big black pepper on the back. Unfortunately, the second sample, not the one with the draw issue, has all those flavors and then some intense bitterness. It reminds me of tar, but looking down at the top of the cigar, there’s no sign of tar. It sticks around for most of the third, not completely drowning out the other flavors, but certainly not making me want to continue smoking the cigar. The final sample is without issue and it pays off: dark chocolate over top a sweeter chocolate that reminds me of freshly baked chocolate chips, lavender, juniper, nuttiness and a strong black pepper, which is really consistent across all three samples. Construction ranges from an awful yet improving draw and multiple relights to flawless.

While the first sample’s draw has improved significantly, it’s still a length away flavor-wise from the other two cigars, though there’s still some nuttiness and black pepper, albeit a bit softer compared to the other two cigars. As for those, the Meridian has wheat combining with the nuttiness, which is now more macadamia than before. It’s much smoother with the black pepper still lasting well into the finish, but no longer as sharp. The retrohale is a different story with a berry sweetness, slight citrus and a sharper wasabi-like pepper that invades the entire back half of the mouth. Across the board, construction is much better.Flavor remains medium-full, body increases slightly to medium-full while strength rises to medium-plus.

By the final third, all three Meridian Robustos end up in the same place by the final third. It’s remarkably consistent even if you don’t take into account how inconsistent the three samples started. Macadamia nut remains at the top of the profile, but the wheat is pretty much gone. Instead, oranges, cinnamon and white pepper have found their way into the main profile. Burn struggles a bit on each sample at the inch-mark, which isn’t something I punish a cigar for, but I end up making the touch up so I can keep smoking what has become an enjoyable cigar. Strength picks up to medium-full, while flavor and body both tone down slightly: medium-plus and medium respectively.

Final Notes

  • Here’s what the old Meridian packaging looked like.

  • To say I was disappointed by how two cigars started was an understatement. Neither were close to the standard that I expect and usually find in today’s cigar market and they certainly were a far cry from Cornelius, the only other cigar I’ve smoked from Cornelius & Anthony, and one that finished in the top 10 in The Consensus last year.
  • One cigar had an awful draw. There was no resistance, which meant the cigar went out exactly four minutes—and about 12 puffs and a touch-up—after it was lit. We have a rule at halfwheel: if the cigar cannot be smoked because of the draw, it gets tossed and the scoresheet is filled out up until the point where it was tossed. I was considering this about 10 minutes into the cigar, but oddly after two full on purges and an inch of cigar, the draw began to tighten and the construction improved a lot. It was still not great, but by the end of the cigar it was almost normal. Had the cigar kept going out after a third and fourth relight, I would have tossed it.
  • I don’t know by how much, but that one sample obviously affected the score pretty substantially. The first third of the second sample, the bitter cigar, didn’t help either. It’s by far the lowest flavor score I’ve given to any cigar this year.
  • That being said, both cigars improved dramatically after the first inch and a half. It’s one of the multitude of reasons I don’t understand how one can rate cigars unless you smoke them all the way through.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., JR Cigar and STOGIES World Class Cigars carry the Meridian Robusto.
80 Overall Score

While the last sample I smoked provided a positive experience, it’s challenging to get past the first parts of the first two samples. In both cases, I likely would have tossed the cigar and unfortunately for two different reasons. As I mentioned above, one cigar had a draw that was so open, I couldn’t keep it lit, while the second developed a bitterness that was terrible. By the middle part, all three cigars were enjoyable, but I still can’t see myself ever recommending the cigar given how it started and I certainly wouldn’t have kept smoking two of them if not for the process of reviewing it. We don’t have a specific category for consistency on our scoresheet, but I think in many ways it’s the most important factor in a cigar and in that regard, the Meridian failed miserably and probably should be punished more by the score attached to the review.

Avatar photo

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.