There’s no question that Compounds, Elements & Musings got all the attention last year as far as Foundry Tobacco Co. was concerned, but the reality is the company introduced another series, War of Currents.

Foundry, a General Cigar Co. brand headed by Michael Giannini, first came to market in 2012 as an ode to the steampunk movement. Last year, 20 cigars were released under Compounds, Elements & Musings, a play on the periodic table. War of Currents is actually a brand based off of exactly what it sounds like, a war over electrical current standards over 120 years ago.

The battle was fought between alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). On one side sat Thomas Edison, the proponent of DC, while entrepreneur George Westinghouse and inventor Nikola Tesla supported AC. Ultimately, while direct current is still around in specific uses, alternating current won the war. This infographic gives a concise history of the battle, particularly between Edison and Tesla.

The Foundry website explains the brand’s tie-ins.

Foundry: War of Currents proudly presents four limited editions that join Edison and Tesla’s epic fight against conventionality in favor of creativity and innovation. Featuring a blend separate and distinct from that of War of Currents, Shoreham and W. Orange.
Reflecting Edison and Tesla’s most provocative inventions or ideas, each of the limited edition figurados is blended to spark curiosity. Like all Foundry cigars, the leaf origins will not be divulged. The unexpected should be expected.
Each limited edition is named after locations where Edison and Tesla contributed to scientific greatness or notoriety. Like Foundry’s retro packaging, War of Currents Small Batch boxes are imprinted with vintage newspaper clippings that announce Edison and Tesla’s infamous and often sinister inventions.

In total, there are six different War of Currents releases. Four are limited and known as the Invention Series. Two of those are based off of Edison (Auburn and Menlo), while the other two—Belgrade and Madison—are based off of Tesla.

The other two cigars are regular production and known as the Laboratories Series. The W. Orange is named after where Edison’s labs were based, West Orange, N.Y., while Shoreham is an ode to the Wardenclyffe Tower designed by Tesla, based in Shoreham, N.Y.

Foundry War of Currents

  • Foundry War of Currents Auburn (6 x 50) — $8.25 (Boxes of 10, $82.50) — 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Foundry War of Currents Belgrade (5 3/4 x 60) — $9.45 (Boxes of 10, $94.50) — 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Foundry War of Currents Madison (6 x 57) — $8.95 (Boxes of 10, $89.50) — 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Foundry War of Currents Menlo (5 x 60) — $8.45 (Boxes of 10, $84.50) — 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Foundry War of Currents Laboratories West Orange (5 x 1/2 x 50) — $7.95 (Boxes of 24, $190.80) — Regular Production
  • Foundry War of Currents Laboratories Shoreham (5 1/2 x 54) — $8.25 (Boxes of 24, $198) — Regular Production

Two of the cigars are regular production, both carry a metal fuse, similar to the gears the 2012 releases of Foundry.

Menlo is a reference to Menlo Park, N.J., the area where Edison’s research lab was based. The boxes are meant to mimic old newspapers, I imagine this being in advertising.

Foundry Menlo Box.png

(Via General Cigar Co.)

The cigars are trompeta-shaped, allegedly made to look like the top half of the phonograph, an Edison invention.

Foundry War of Currents Menlo 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Foundry War of Currents Menlo
  • Country of Origin: n/a
  • Factory: n/a
  • Wrapper: n/a
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 60
  • Vitola: Trompeta
  • MSRP: $8.45 (Boxes of 10, $84.50)
  • Date Released: September 24, 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2

There’s some decent red on the wrapper and very visible veins. I can’t help but think that the Menlo would be complemented by a closed foot, although that totally wouldn’t help the look that they are going for. Aroma from the undisclosed wrapper is medium and smooth with some sweet fruit notes. There’s a lot more from the foot: sweetness, nutmeg and coffee; once again very smooth. The cold draw has up front notes that remind me of thicker cut french fries along with some generic woods and the faintest touch of harshness on the back of the throat.

For better or worse, the Menlo does not start out like french fries. Instead there are is bitter burnt earth, hearty cedar and some crisp green licorice notes. I’m able to pick up sweet tea hints through the nose, which is a good reminder it’s been a while since I’ve had some. As the cigar burns, there’s not tons of development from the Foundry, lots of earthy and woody flavors. There’s an occasional bread in the nose, but it’s overwhelmed by a lingering saltiness form the cap, which I assume is actually related to the glue.

Foundry War of Currents Menlo 2

Harshness decreases in the second third as the earthiness finds some cashew notes replacing the cedar. A bit of grass emerges after the halfway mark, but other than that, there’s little change in flavor. The burn is rarely ever even, but I manage to get away without touching it up. Smoke production is not consistent, but still solid and the draw is slightly tight.

Foundry War of Currents Menlo 3

Unfortunately, the harshness and the draw continue to get less appealing with the saltiness being my biggest complaint. A mineral note is developing alongside a slightly bitter cherry. On the finish, I get popcorn, which is a highly enjoyable surprise in a cigar that was relatively predictable. I’m able to smoke past the final inch without the cigar getting too hot, although the draw tightens dramatically.

Foundry War of Currents Menlo 4

Final Notes

  • As for Foundry as a whole, I actually am starting to admire the concept more and more, but I could do with a few tweaks, most importantly, a focus on the tobacco. Because of the company’s desire to not disclose where the components are from, along with the sheer volume of the cigars, the entire thing comes off like a packaging fair. I don’t actually think that’s the true intention, but when you don’t want to talk about the tobacco, you have this many cigars and your reasoning behind some of the releases can be described as “because it looked cool”—you are left with that criticism.
  • Whatever the case, I imagine Foundry isn’t going anywhere.
  • Edison was known as “the wizard of Menlo Park.”
  • There’s a Menlo Park, Calif. located outside of San Francisco, which is actually the home of Facebook.
  • I’d peg the Menlo around medium in body and flavor, a bit lighter in actual nicotine content.
  • In 2012, the cigars featured a gear around the bands, which was used to open a humidor in 2013. It’s unclear what the metal fuse found on the two regular production items will do, but Giannini has promised they have their purpose.
  • Once again, you have to admire General Cigar Co.’s pricing, it’s highly competitive, if not the best in the business.
  • I’m still not sold on the attempts of manufacturers to smoke something “blind” in order to produce a better consumer experience. If anything, not lying about components would probably improve a consumer’s experience.
  • I think we have all the Foundrys at the office. I don’t really want to know what the bill for that looks like. As with the rest of the 30 or so Foundrys, the Menlo for this review was purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 10 minutes.
80 Overall Score

Never a bad cigar, but never a good cigar. I’m somewhat intrigued to smoke some of the other War of Currents, and the price points make it a whole lot easier to do. This is not one that I will be purchasing again, but I wouldn’t be opposed to smoking one again. It’s boring, but still smokable. I really could do without the salt though.

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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.