After not exhibiting at the PCA Convention & Trade Show since 2019—due to a combination of COVID pandemic shutdowns in 2020 and for personal reasons in 2021—Nicholas Melillo’s Foundation Cigar Co. is back this year, and in a big way.

That is not only due to the large number of new releases—five in total—but also what those releases entail. Included in the list are two different Macho Raton vitolas, a former event-only cigar getting a second size, a new line and the debut of a Highclere Castle cigar that celebrates the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb.

This year, Foundation Cigar’s booth is very similar to the one that it used in 2019 in both size and layout. This includes the two large pyramid displays on either end. However, there are some noticeable changes: both the art installation and the large sign that was above the booth in 2019 did not return for 2022.


According to Foundation, this release is meant to be a tribute to Mexico and its ancient Mesoamerican people, which inhabited the San Andrés Valley in Veracruz, where cigar tobacco is grown. The line will use a Mexican San Andrés wrapper and will be offered in two versions, a claro and a maduro, with the latter the stronger of the two.

  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Olmec Corona Gorda (5 1/2 x 48) — $12.50 (Box of 12, $150)
  • Olmec Robusto (5 x 50) — $13.50 (Box of 12, $162)
  • Olmec Toro (6 x 52) — $14.50 (Box of 12, $174)
  • Olmec Grande (6 x 60) — $15.50 (Box of 12, $186)
  • Olmec Double Corona (7 x 52) — $16 (Box of 12, $192)

Production: Regular Production

Release Date: Fall 2022

El Güegüense Macho Raton

The Macho Raton vitola gets its name also from the El Güegüense story, as it is the name of the main character, and Macho Ratón is sometimes used as an alternate name for the story.

  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Corojo 99)
  • Binder: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí & Jalapa)
  • El Güegüense Macho Raton (4 3/4 x 60) — $14 (Box of 12, $168)

Production: Regular Production

Release Date: Summer 2022

Not pictured.

The Wise Man Maduro Macho Raton

This is the same short perfecto vitola as the above cigar but in The Wise Man Maduro blend.

  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Corojo 99)
  • Filler:Nicaragua (Estelí & Jalapa)
  • The Wise Man Maduro Macho Raton (4 3/4 x 60) — $14 (Box of 12, $168)

Production: Regular Production

Release Date: Summer 2022

Highclere Castle Senetjer

The newest release in the Highclere Castle line celebrates the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in November 1922 by archaeologist Howard Carter, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon of Highclere Castle. The name is said to come from the ancient Egyptian word for incense, while the boxes have been designed to be a replica of storage boxes discovered with King Tut’s tomb. The scarab represents the Egyptian god, Khepri, the symbol of rebirth, and incorporates a modern-day monogram representing the name Tutankhamun. While it will be an ongoing production, it will be limited to batches of 700 boxes at a time that will ship on a quarterly basis.

  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Binder: Brazil (Mata Fina)
  • Filler: Undisclosed
  • Highclere Castle Senetjer (6 3/4 x 52) — $33 (Box of 12, $396)

Production: 2,800 Boxes of 12 Cigars (33,600 Total Cigars)

Release Date: Fall 2022

Menelik Toro

The once event-only Menelik line is getting its second size, a soft-pressed toro with a pigtail cap. Like the existing robusto, production will be limited to runs of 1,000 boxes at a time, so while it will be an ongoing release, it might not always be on shelves.

  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Jalapa Corojo 99)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Condega, Estelí & Jalapa)
  • Menelik Toro (6 x 52) — $16.50 (Box of 12, $198)

Production: Regular Production

Release Date: Late Summer/Early Fall 2022

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.