While Michael Giannini of Foundry Tobacco Co. launched the plural Elements, Compounds and Musings line at the 2013 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, there was only one compound included in the debut: the Foundry H2O. Keeping with his secretive nature about the cigars’ blend and wanting to focus more on the experience than offering a hint as to what the cigar might taste like, little is known about the makeup of this cigar. All that is known from the packaging is that it contains Costa Rican tobacco and something called “mysterioso,” and that the H2O box contains three different wrappers and three different blends.

Beyond that, the H2O line was sold to brick and mortar retailers exclusively at the trade show. Half of the Foundry Elements, Compunds and Musings line were made exclusive to traditional cigar stores, with the other half being offered exclusively to catalog and online merchants as a way to satisfy what has become somewhat contentious ends of the cigar retailing spectrum.
The Foundry H2O was part of the 18 different blends under 14 frontmarks that comprised Foundry’s Elements, Compounds and Musings line, most of which are limited editions though some will become regular parts of the Foundry portfolio.

Foundry Elements Compounds Musings

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

Giannini noted that the H2O had sold out by day three of the trade show, and with these being available only to brick-and-mortar retailers, finding them is a bit of a challenge, compounded by the lack of a list of retailers who got each release.
Foundry H20 H 1
  • Cigar Reviewed: Foundry H20 – H 
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: General Cigar Dominicana
  • Wrapper: n/a
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Perfecto
  • MSRP: $5 (Boxes of 36, $180)
  • Release Date: Sept. 26, 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: 250 Boxes of 12 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)*
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2

The Foundry H is covered in a dark chocolate brown wrapper with a lot of sheen and just a few veins. The cap is fairly simple and any seam lines almost disappear back into the wrapper. The cigar offers a bit of give when squeezed but there’s no suggestion that it is underfilled. Given the incredibly small opening at the foot of the cigar, there isn’t a lot to be found as far as a prelight aroma, but what is there is a faint bit of sweet stable notes, a bit of chocolate and some tree bark. Air moves well in the cold draw and shows a more pronounced damp wood note with a bit of pepper and a sweet and sour tang that plays in the background.

The first notes, especially in the second cigar where the air flowed much better, are rich and deep with a good bit of pepper for the nose and tanginess on the palate. The first cigar’s draw was incredibly tight in the first puffs before opening up quickly as the burn line progresses. I’m incredibly impressed by how much this smaller cigar puts off—so much so that I have to wait for most of it to dissipate before attempting a photo of the cigar. The first retrohale on each cigar is manageable but certainly pack a decent punch of pepper.  The ash is dark gray, tight and layered with a good inclination to hold on tightly, with the burn line needing just a bit of help to even out as it passed the curve of the foot. As I look at the cigar, I’m struck by what an incredibly impressive amount of shine the wrapper gives off. I don’t want to say that it is dripping oils, but it certainly has a good amount—more than you find on most cigars to say the least.

Foundry H20 H 2

There hasn’t been much in the way of flavor changes since the first third, but given the H’s short length I’m not surprised, and given its impressive and very enjoyable start, I’m certainly not complaining. What I do notice is that the flavors continue to mesh together and become that much deeper and complex, while the aroma has become kitchenesque due to the richness of the smoke, which offers a rapidly changing selection of smells that have me thinking of hearty stew, meatloaf and a number of fitting side dishes. The ash finally drops at the midway point, an incredibly impressive showing.

Foundry H20 H 3

Again, there isn’t much in the way of flavor changes heading into the final third, though as the burn line creeps closer to the point where it will be time to put the cigar out, the flavors start to separate just a bit and a chalky note starts to stand out. Despite the oils on the wrapper, the H burns fairly quickly and I’m left feeling like there simply wasn’t enough time for it to develop a flavor story. What it does offer is good and enjoyable but lacks sufficient time for me to really dive into it. One final retrohale still offers a good amount of pepper and a fitting close to the H.

Foundry H20 H 4

Final Notes

  • On both cigars I smoked, the band came off as I was slipping the cigar out of the cellophane. Given its small and tapered size, it’s a relief to know that it wasn’t glued on too tightly to the cigar. That said, I couldn’t get the ends of the band to separate without significant fear of tearing it.
  • Given how little space there is not covered by the band, I didn’t even think about leaving it on, especially given the prior point.
  • The draw during the first few puffs were almost polar opposite experiences; the first cigar was tight and labored until I got to the point where the ring gauge increased, while the second was about as easy as could be from start to finish.
  • When you think about it, cigars are a type of compound, so the more I contemplate the topic, the more I struggle with the idea of this particular line. I don’t want to overthink it, but at some level it’s really three compounds under the header of one compound.
  • To further analyze this, H2O is really two elements – hydrogen and oxygen. To really nitpick, it would have been truer to the idea to have two blends with twice as many of the H as the O in the box.
  • Given that I wanted more from the H in terms of smoking length and flavor progression, another option would have been to make the cigar twice as big as the O.
  • In this video with CigarObsession, Giannini says the inspiration for the bands and packaging came from the Three Stooges’ typewriter. He described it as where he gets “fun and whimsical” with the project.
  • Giannini told me that he is continuing with his plans to carve out some space at General Cigar’s Nicaraguan factory that will be exclusively used to create Foundry cigars. It’s a work in progress, but something he is really pushing for.
  • Final smoking time averaged just under one hour.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
87 Overall Score

While I didn't like the H as much as I did the Argon, it wasn't for the H lacking in flavor, but rather just lacking a balance between its size and flavor progression. In each cigar I smoked, it seemed to be over almost as soon as it was done, and the flavors that it had just didn't get enough room and time to shine. If you've got $5 burning a hole in your pocket and an hour to enjoy a cigar, the Foundry H2O H would certainly be a worthy option, and if your experience is anything like mine, you'll find yourself not only enjoying it but wanting another one.

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 the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.