If you know the initials JFR, you likely associate this line of cigars with a brand that offers large vitolas with a favorable profile at a decent price. Since being introduced at the 2011 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, the line has become a staple in many humidors thanks to carving out a unique value proposition for those cigar smokers looking to maximize their tobacco-per-dollar ratio.
Additionally, the line has become favored by retailers since it is dedicated to being a brick-and-mortar only series, helping them offer something unique to the more value-oriented selections commonly found in catalogs and the Internet, though with many traditional brick and motars operating online shops as well, that line has become increasingly blurred. If you were wondering, JFR stands for Just For Retailers.
Yet the line isn’t just 60 and 70 ring gauge cigars; yes, there is the absolutely enormous JFR Lunatic, an 8 x 80 cigar that might make your jaw sore just by looking at it. But the line has also encompasses smaller ring gauges as well, from the JFR Robusto (5 1/2 x 50) to the JFR Piramide (6 1/4 x 52) and JFR Super Toro (6 1/2 x 52), and the JFR Junior extension that came out late in 2013 and offered two wrapper variations, a Nicaraguan corojo or habano maduro.
While the original JFR brand continues to go strong, the Lunatic line extension has also gained a good bit of traction of its own. Billed as a stronger version of the JFR blends, the original Lunatic blend used a Mexican San Andrés marrón wrapper and three-year-old AGANORSA fillers from Nicaragua, which merited being called full to extra full by the company. Since the original 8 x 80 Lunatic Mambo debuted in February 2015, Casa Fernández added the Lunatic El Chiquito (4 3/4 x 70) in May 2015 and the 8 x 60 Lunatic Jackhammer in June 2015. The latest edition is the relatively slender Lunatic Shaggy Foot, a 7 x 50 Churchill with about an inch of unwrapped and unbound tobacco protruding at the bottom.
”We wanted to show the rustic beauty of the cigar,” said Max Fernández Pujols at the time of the cigar’s announcement. “We left the leaves showing as a reminder that cigar-making is a hand rolled craft. We’re leaf growers, so we liked that you can see the bare leaves that we grew on our farms in Nicaragua. It’s genuine, you can see the leaves that we’ve grown and processed the way we see them when we’re working with tobacco in Aganorsa. Every day we’re smoking those leaves in rustic hand rolled vegueros from the pilones and from the aging tobacco bales.”
The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro that uses five-year-old corojo 99 tobacco, another first for the JFR line. It also got updated packaging, using a radio tower as its signature icon, as both a parallel to the foot of the cigar, with the leaves extending out, but also as a symbol of the American workers movement. Fernández Pujals explained that the movement was crucial to gaining the eight-hour work day, which of course meant more time for the enjoyment of cigars.
The bands also get an updated look, shifting away from the Lunatic’s silver and purple motif in favor of red and white.
- Cigar Reviewed: JFR Lunatic Torch
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo 99
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 7 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Churchill
- MSRP: $8.50 (Boxes of 30, $255)
- Release Date: January 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The Churchill vitola can be an imposing one for some cigar smokers, and I’m inclined to think that for those who find it too big, the shaggy foot makes it that much more unwieldy. While I’ve seen and smoked my fair share of shaggy footed cigars, there is something particularly more raw about the Lunatic; with no wrapper or binder, the filler leaves protrude with their own style and form, and when contrasted with the well rolled cigar, it’s sort of looking at a well-groomed guy in a tailored suit who has some cutting edge hairstyle. The wrapper is an attractive reddish brown, almost the color of wet infield dirt on a baseball diamond, with some darker spots but a largely consistent color. Each sample is firm and well rolled, with flat seams and generally small veins. There isn’t much oil on the wrapper, and the dry, fine grit of the wrapper easily translates to the fingers. From the foot I get a great blend of sweetness and pepper, while the dry nature of the tobacco is an unmistakable addition. The sweetness leans towards apricots and peaches and what I would imagine premium bubblegum would smell like, were I to ever come across any. The cold draw has a bit of vanilla ice cream sweetness, milky and creamy but with a somewhat thicker texture, backed by cedar and only a hint of pepper. The draw is generally spot on, skewing a bit loose if anything.
The triple torch lighter that I used on the JFR Lunatic Shaggy Foot makes quick work of the unwrapped end of the cigar, and while there is about an inch of unbound leaves sticking out, it feels like I won’t smoke quite that much due to what burned in the toasting process. That said, I used a different lighter on the second cigar that required more toasting, and the tobacco seemed to suffer, getting harsher and downright bitter. The opening notes are full of pungent wood and a decent amount of black pepper, the former bringing me back stripping the bark off a tree and smelling the wood underneath. Almost without fail, the first clump of ash breaks off shortly after reaching the wrapper. While the palate is treated to a more restrained amount of pepper, the nose gets a fuller and modified version that has more initial punch and complexity, suggesting a flavor of slightly overdone grilled barbecue.
By the start of the second third, the Shaggy Foot’s retrohales have taken on more chalk and shed the heavier notes from the first third, which for me is a favorable change as it allows me to retrohale even more. The flavor profile has also lightened up just a bit, moving back into medium bodied territory with the pepper nudging it just north of medium in terms of flavor. There’s a bit of rock on the tongue, with the chalk that the retrohales picked up earlier showing up here as well. Puffs through the midpoint suggest a bit of dry sausage and cured meats that match up well with the now drier wood note that teeters between cedar, oak and pencil wood, depending on the individual puff. The draw and burn remain fantastic through the second third, never suggesting the need for a relight, while smoke production is more than sufficient.
On occasion I have referred to cigars as session cigars, borrowing a term from the beer world for lower alcohol beers with plenty of balance and a clean finish, i.e. a beer you could drink several of without getting overwhelmed either by the flavor or ensuing buzz. I bring this up because the transition to the final third of the JFR Lunatic Shaggy Foot has me thinking that I could easily go for another when this one wraps up. The flavors have mellowed into a balanced note of rich wood and tempered pepper, familiar and enjoyable if not terribly complex. Additionally, there is little if any nicotine being felt from the cigar, another plus in making the case for lighting up a second cigar. When it is time for the band to come off, the flavor gets just a touch sour, an unfortunate development given my sentiments about the cigar, but a detour that is quickly rectified as the cigar rejoins the path it had been on earlier. The final inch sees the flavor get a bit fuller though not necessarily stronger, just more encompassing of the palate and other senses. The wood become just a touch juicier and I can almost taste the oils of the cigar as they coat the tongue as part of its final puffs. A touch of marmalade sweetness closes out the cigar, evoking notes of orange and apricot for its soon approaching farewell, which has reunited the cigar with the session tag it earned earlier.
- I’m not versed enough in design to know what to call the band’s style, but I do like the fact that it is different and breaks with the standard design aesthetic of the cigar industry.
- Many cigars could lay claim to the increase in big ring gauge cigars, including Casa Fernandez by way of its JFR brand.
- I don’t recall being as frustrated by the ash of a cigar as much as I was with that of the JFR Lunatic Shaggy Foot. It is incredibly fragile and seems to fall off at the most inopportune times. In fact, I smoked the first two cigars and couldn’t keep the ash on long enough to get decent pictures.
- Each cigar comes in a partial cellophane sleeve that covers from the band down and doesn’t get folded over at the bottom. A nice touch, but it does nothing to protect the tobacco on the foot from chipping off, as the bag I received these in was full of small bits of tobacco. I’m also not sure why the head of the cigar goes unprotected.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Casa Fernández advertises on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was 2 hours and 10 minutes on average.
- Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar carries the JFR Lunatic Shaggy Foot Torch.
There are lots of good terms to bestow on a cigar, but few carry as much weight to me as "I'd really enjoy another." The low nicotine and progression of balanced flavors of the JFR Lunatic Shaggy Foot Torch are the hallmarks of this cigar, while the overall technical performance keeps distractions to a minimum, relegated mainly to some flaky ash. Fire up one and you might just find yourself in the same predicament I found myself, seeing if I could carve out time for another.