Odds are good you haven’t heard of FQ Cigars. While the company launched in late 2013, the first time that the company appeared on halfwheel was in April 2016, when its debut line, Proper, was launched at Cigar Hustler in Deltona, Fla.

The cigar came with an interesting side note, that being that company owner Matt Hunt individually selected each cigar that would get released, instead of entrusting someone at Nicaraguan American Cigars S.A. (NACSA), the factory making the cigars, with said task. That would mean that each batch would be limited to about 1,000 cigars of each of the three sizes.

  • FQ Proper Corona Gorda (5 5/8 x 46) — $9.50 (Boxes of 20, $190)
  • FQ Proper Robusto (5 x 50) — $11 (Boxes of 20, $220)
  • FQ Proper Toro Gordo (6 x 54) — $12 (Boxes of 20, $240)

At the time, the company had 30-40 accounts, and Hunt said he had plans to keep distribution small regardless of how it grew.

Then, the company largely went quiet until resurfacing at the 2017 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, where Hunt shared the news that Pospiech, Inc. was now distributing the portfolio, and he had some new cigars in the works — the Phenom No. 1 and Phenom No. 3, as well as updating the release date for Proper to November 2017. Unfortunately, none of the cigars were on display in the space he shared with RoMa Craft Tobac and Pospiech, Inc.

That date would come and go, as the line wouldn’t get its proper release until early February at an event hosted by UnderGround Cigar Shop in Fort Worth, Texas.

The FQ Proper’s wrapper is an Ecuadorian habano oscuro leaf, while the binder comes from Honduras and the filler is made up of Connecticut broadleaf and Honduran tobacco.

  • Cigar Reviewed: FQ Proper Corona Gorda
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Nicaragua American Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Connecticut Broadleaf & Honduras
  • Length: 5 5/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Vitola: Corona Gorda
  • MSRP: $9.50 (Boxes of 20, $190)
  • Release Date: Feb. 3, 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The first thing about the FQ Proper Corona Gorda that stands out is its incredibly dark brown wrapper, one of the darkest leaves I’ve seen on a cigar in some time. It has a bit of oiliness and fine grit texture on the fingers, small veins, some occasional crystallization, and no significant tooth. The cigar is anywhere from firm to hard in density, with clean seams, a well-applied cap, and a covered foot that ranges from some foot exposed to a sloppily wrapped Christmas present. A prelight aroma of chocolate shavings is the first thing I get from the foot, while other samples suggest refrigerated butter sticks and some subtle rum sweetness. The cold draw is smooth and easy, with a bit more of the milk chocolate leading the way for a bit of warm, tender meatiness.

The first puffs of the FQ Proper Corona Gorda have an understated richness and fullness to them that in the first sample, unfolds in the opposite direction of a typical covered foot cigar; that is the pepper comes along a few puffs in, instead of being the opening salvo. The second sample has a more thoroughly covered foot and as such a more typical opening, though there is some pepper saved for the first handful of puffs. The smoke has a slightly oily quality that seems to help it glide through the cigar and out the nose on retrohales, which have a tame pepperiness in the first inch. There’s also just a touch of rum sweetness to be found on occasion in the aroma; it’s far from what I’d call boozy, but at times I thought a rum old fashioned might have magically appeared. While there is a good bit of robust, somewhat rough earthiness in the first inch, the cigar does an impressive job staying balanced and not getting too harsh, letting the terroir do most of the work without forcing it beyond its range, though I could see it treading too far for some palates. The first third of the FQ Proper, other than a bit of pepper than can bite the tongue and back of the throat occasionally, is interestingly smooth and subtle. A bit of rich cedar gets split evenly between the nose and tongue as the first third draws to a close, with an easy draw, decent smoke production, and slightly uneven burn line, while strength and flavor both sit at medium-full.

There’s a bit more pepper in the first retrohale of the second third, and if you’re prone to take a couple of small puffs at a time, the effect certainly amplifies, though not as much on the tongue. The robustness that marked most of the first third begins to fade away very gradually, and by the midpoint the cigar is noticeably mellower and showing a different style of complexity, with cotton candy sweetness the first distinct flavor and aroma of the new profile. There is still some supporting notes of pepper and earth, but the FQ Proper Corona Gorda is now showing some dry woods that stimulate the front half of the tongue as well as leave a lingering tingle in the nostrils. It’s a more medium-plus bodied profile, still rich with flavor but backed off a bit from the strength, at least until the final puffs, when white pepper joins the fold and the cigar becomes a bit more pointed in its profile. A bit of sweetness can be found in the smoke as the burn line approaches the final third, and when it is locked onto, the cigar hits a new high of complexity and enjoyment.

The FQ Proper Corona Gorda uses the start of its final third to get a bit more robust, though not quite as much it showed at times during its first third. Its biggest change is that it shows more of a rocky earth core, which when combined with the black pepper that has reemerged, can create a bit of harshness towards the back of the tongue and into the throat, while also masking the softer complexities it exhibited in its second third. Additionally, it’s here where the cigar can start to go a bit off the rails that it has done a good job sticking to so far; while it never gets completely out of balance, it does teeter into exhibiting too much roughness in one sample. The burn and draw remain quite good, with the balance and flavor the only thing that can leave something to be desired in the final puffs.

Final Notes

  • There were more than a handful of puffs where I would have thought there was Mexican San Andrés or Nicaraguan tobacco in the blend, though neither is the case.
  • The robustness of the cigar is interesting, as it certainly works the senses but never seems to go too far.
  • I came across a couple reviews of the FQ Cigars Phenom No. 3 on other sites and YouTube, though interestingly it comes from the spring of 2014.
  • Even with all its robust flavors, there’s not a ton of nicotine strength in the FQ Proper Corona Gorda.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 30 minutes on average.
89 Overall Score

Consider me impressed by the FQ Proper Corona Gorda; it's a robust cigar that manages to stay balanced and complex nearly from start to finish, while also mixing in some good transitions in both strength and flavor profile. It's a bit of a deceptive blend; as I noted above I could have easily been led to believe that there's some Nicaraguan tobacco in the mix, though it seems that the Connecticut broadleaf does a fair amount of the driving in the profile, with the Ecuadorian habano and Honduran tobaccos contributing their own spin on the end result. While production and availability are both incredibly limited, this new cigar is worth adding to your basket if you can track some down.

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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.