When Michael Giannini of Foundry Tobacco Company pulled back the curtain on his 2013 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show releases, many were caught off guard by the sheer volume of them, let alone the intricate and detailing packaging he came up with.

In addition to War of Currents, a completely separate Foundry project, Foundry’s Compounds, Elements and Musings—one series—contained 20 different cigars split in various packaging forms with a common theme of little information about the blends. Giannini picked both common and obscure elements for his inspiration, from hydrogen and gold to Europium and vanadium. In total there are 12 front marks, 18 boxes and 20 different bands between the Elements and Compounds parts of the brand.

How does the math add up? A total of five cigars were shipped between two boxes (Titanium and H20), while Plutonium was offered in four different boxes. Foundry Elements Compounds Musings

  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Hydrogen (6 1/2 x 46 x 56) —$5.85 (Boxes of 20, $117.00)
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Helium (6 5/8 x 54) — $5.30 (Boxes of 20, $106.00)
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Carbon (5 1/2 x 60) — $4.99 (Boxes of 77, $384.23)
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Argon (5 x 50) — $5.49 (Boxes of 25, $137.25)
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Titanium Belicoso (6 x 52) — $4.45 (Boxes of 20, $88.95)1
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Titanium Corona Gorda (5 1/2 x 46) — $4.45 (Boxes of 20, $88.95)1
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Vandium (6 1/8 x 54) — $5.99 (Boxes of 20, $119.80)
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Xenon (6 1/4 x 54) — $6.25 (Boxes of 20, $125.00)
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Europium (7 x 60) — $6.75 (Boxes of 20, $135.00)
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Gold (5 1/2 x 55) — $5.75 (Boxes of 20, $143.75)
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Uranium (7 x 70)  — $6.99 (Boxes of 18, $125.82)
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Plutonium (5 x 50) — $5.99 (Boxes of 25, $159.75)
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Plutonium (5 x 50) — $5.99 (Boxes of 25, $159.75)
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Plutonium (5 x 50) — $5.99 (Boxes of 25, $159.75)
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Plutonium (5 x 50) — $5.99 (Boxes of 25, $159.75)
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings H (5 x 50) — $5.00 (Boxes of 36, $180.00)2
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings 2 (5 x 50) — $5.00 (Boxes of 36, $180.00)2
  • Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings O (5 x 50) — $5.00 (Boxes of 36, $180.00)2

1The Titanium is sold in one box of 20. The box contains 10 cigars of each size.
2The H, 2 and O are three cigars with different wrappers sold in one box of 36. Each box contains 12 of each wrapper.

Of the 2013 batch, every blend is limited with the exception of Carbon and Uranium.

True to the form that he has maintained since launching Foundry in 2012, Giannini doesn’t release much information about the cigars’ blends, saying that he wants you to go into the cigar without preconceptions of what it might—or should—taste like. In the case of the Foundry Argon, all that is known is that it contains a blend of Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Brazilian tobaccos, but not about where they might appear in the cigar, or if there could be any other leaves in the blend that aren’t mentioned. If you’re not familiar with argon, it is a noble gas with number 18 on the periodic table of elements.

According to Wikipedia, it’s the third most abundant gas in earth’s atmosphere, and the name comes from the Greek word αργον, which means lazy or inactive. The name refers to the fact argon undergoes almost no chemical reactions.

The article goes on to mention that it’s most commonly used as “an inert shielding gas in welding and other high-temperature industrial processes where ordinarily non-reactive substances become reactive; for example, an argon atmosphere is used in graphite electric furnaces to prevent the graphite from burning.

Argon gas also has uses in incandescent and fluorescent lighting, and other types of gas discharge tubes. Argon makes a distinctive blue-green gas laser.”

Foundry Argon 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Foundry Compounds, Elements & Musings Argon
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: General Cigar Dominicana
  • Wrapper: n/a
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Size: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • MSRP: $5.49 (Boxes of 25, $137.25)
  • Release Date: Sept. 24, 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: 375 Boxes of 25 Cigars (9,375 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2

The Foundry Argon comes wrapped in a pair of black and copper colored bands, and while you have to take the footband off before lighting, it would also seem well served to take the large main band off as well. The wrapper is a muted, earthy brown with very small veins and virtually no seam lines. Between the box-press, the even firmness and the seam lines, the Argon gives off the appearance of being a very well-rolled cigar. The pre-light aroma is slightly sweet on the foot, a touch of cinnamon, some pepper as well as a floral fragrance that reminds me of champagne. The cold draw varies between being just on the easy and the firm sides of perfect, though both cigars presented very acceptable cold draws. There are mild notes of sweet graham cracker and not a lot of spice to be found.

The first puffs are mellow and mild, with a touch of sweetness and dough, and early retrohales pass easily through the nose and offer only the subtlest hints of pepper. A bit of warm sweetness starts to emerge before a little bit of dry wood starts to enter the equation, but the sweet notes remain and are fantastic both in the nose and on the tongue. The sweetness starts to depart with the transition to the next third beginning and the flavors begin transitioning to a drier, more peppery set that offer notes of wood and a touch of sharp, chalky mineral from the soil. Through the first portion of the cigar, the burn line has been sharp and even with sufficient amounts of smoke and no need for a touch up, while the ash is largely white with small and scattered spots of black and gray and holds on perfectly through the first third.

Foundry Argon 2

After the transition that takes the Foundry Argon from its first to second thirds, flavors dial back just a touch and give the smoke a chance to show its smoothness. Subtle notes of plain donut emerge in the calming, and the ash continues to hold on incredibly well before breaking off at about the midway point on both cigars. There is a fairly quick shift into more earth-forward notes that gives that Foundry Argon a more robust and soil-rich flavor profile, adding some texture and gruffness to the smoke. An increase in pepper starts the transition to the final third and shows a new level of life in the Argon that hadn’t been shown before.

Foundry Argon 3

The aroma picks up an enjoyable note of campfire at the start of the final third that is bright and vibrant. The smoke seems to lose a bit of its softness here, not becoming outright rough but guided by notes of soil, and the thought that this is aged tobacco that has distilled some of the brighter flavors of the tobacco’s youth crosses my mind. The last inch and a half is marked by a wonderful synergy between a number of flavors, including pepper, some tea notes and the earth and wood notes found throughout the cigar, all of which come together in a final crescendo of flavor that brings the cigar together much better than I would have ever expected. The sweetness starts to return as well providing yet another layer of complexity and closing out the cigar on a very high note. Construction and burn remain absolutely perfect and make this cigar a finger burner.

Foundry Argon 4

Final Notes

  • If a cigar company is going to put on a band so large as the one on the Foundry Argon and require that it be taken off immediately, they need to go easy on the glue. There’s no sense putting such a nice band on and then making me tear it up trying to take it off.
  • In the case of the cigar not used for the photos, the above is what I wanted and tried to do, but there was too much glue to preserve the band intact.
  • For the second cigar smoked—the one pictured above—the band came right off and didn’t do so much as to disturb the ash. Maybe it was just that little bit of heat that helped, but it was a welcome relief when the glue let go without a struggle.
  • The first thing that popped into my mind when I saw these bands was how much they look like the ones put on the CAO Angry Santa and Evil Snowman.
  • Count me among the people who thought the whole Foundry release at the 2013 IPCPR trade show was a bit much, but cigars like this have me rethinking my opinion.
  • We review a lot of rare cigars at halfwheel, but rarely was as much effort put into trying to get cigars for a review than this. Many of the cigars were only sold at brick and mortar locations, while others were only offered to catalog retailers and in some cases, only one retailer at that. As such, tracking down every cigar was a large and expensive task, particularly since some of the catalog retailers only sold the cigar by the box.
  • The easy solution to this would be a sampler containing all of the cigars as it very well might be the case that the halfwheel office and General Cigar Co. is the only place you can see each cigar.
  • A great explanation of the Foundry Elements, Compounds and Musings collection comes from Giannini himself, who is featured in this video on Cigar Obsession.
  • Giannini has talked about plans to open up a section of General Cigar’s Nicaragua factory that will be devoted exclusively to producing Foundry’s cigars.
  • Prior to this release, I can’t tell you the last time I thought about the periodic table of elements.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes on average.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
91 Overall Score

As mentioned above, count me among the skeptical when I heard about Michael Giannini's massive product launch at the 2013 IPCPR trade show. I simply didn't think that given their incredibly limited release and almost novelty presentation, there would be any standouts in the group. However, I will raise my hand and say that I stand corrected having smoked the Foundry Argon. It offers great flavors and smoke textures, highlighted by complexity, balance and progression, topped off by fantastic construction.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.