One of the most interesting releases of the IPCPR show in Orlando was a new line from General Cigar called Foundry. It is described as “the brainchild of Michael Giannini,” based off of his fascination with the steampunk movement and innovators.
Says the press release:
General Cigar is proud to introduce FOUNDRY, a new boutique collection created to amplify the artistry and romanticism of premium cigars.
FOUNDRY is a stark juxtaposition between the old and the new. This visually-arresting collection was inspired by the art form of “steampunk,” which is both a retrospective and futuristic interpretation of innovation.
FOUNDRY is the brainchild of Michael Giannini who led the team that created the breakthrough brand. “Innovation comes from many sources,” he notes. “It is a pleasure and an honor to be able to call upon our greatest resources: the collective talent of cigar masters, our expertise in tobacco cultivation, processing and blending and the creativity of our artisan cigar rollers and box makers to bring FOUNDRY to fruition.
”Through a groundbreaking approach previously unseen in the premium cigar category, FOUNDRY entices the premium cigar connoisseur to take a bold step back in time and a quantum leap into the future to envision the artistry of handmade cigars through the lens of unbridled innovation.
The Foundry blend uses an eight-year-old wrapper from Connecticut dubbed “H-47 Pleno Sol” as well as five different tobaccos from four different countries in the filler and binder—none of which General has disclosed as of yet.
The Foundry will be debut in four different vitolas, each named after a writer, artist or inventor. They are:
- Talbot (5 x 60) — Double Robusto — $8.95 (Boxes of 24, $214.80) Named in reference to Bryan Talbot who is a comic book artist that incorporates elements of the ideas of steampunk into his art.
- Wells (6 x 50) — Toro — $7.95 (Boxes of 24, $190.80) Named in reference to H.G. Wells, who you may recall wrote The Time Machine.
- Lovelace (6 1/4 x 54) — Double Toro — $8.45 (Boxes of 24, $202.80) Named in reference to Ada Lovelace who is considered by many to be the first computer programmer.
- Cayley (6 1/2 x 60) — Figurado — $9.45 (Boxes of 24, $226.80) Named in reference to Sir George Cayley was a pioneer in aeronautics and designed the first glider.
The Foundry will be regular production release with a related project already planned for next year. Each cigar features a traditional band, the signature gear and a piece of cellophane that covers the bottom of the cigar from the gear down.
The boxes look like this.
- Cigar Reviewed: Foundry Wells
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: General Cigar Dominicana
- Wrapper: Connecticut H-47 Pleno Sol
- Binder: Undisclosed
- Filler: Undisclosed
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $7.95 (Boxes of 24, $190.80)
- Release Date: October 2012
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2
The Foundry is an interesting looking stick with a light honey brown and slightly red wrapper that has quite a few veins present and quite a bit of tooth. There is a nice triple cap, but the rest of the cigar seems a bit sloppily put together. Aroma off the wrapper is slight sweet cedar, leather and white pepper. There is a nice amount of give when squeezed and it feels to be well proportioned. Cold draw is unexciting, mostly straight tobacco and cedar.
The first third of the Foundry starts out with notes of slightly sweet oak, leather, espresso and earth. There is a note of butter that is noticeable—but not overwhelming—and it comes and goes. There is very little spice so far, but I am getting a small amount of white pepper on the retrohale. There is also a bitterness that stays in the background, never very strong, but noticeable. The draw is fine, but the burn is a bit wavy through the first third, forcing me to touch it up once to stay on track. Strength is a non-issue ending the first third at a very mild medium.
Coming into the second third of the Foundry and the profile has not appreciably changed in any major way. Oak—sans the sweetness from the first third—leather and earth are the major players with just a tad bit of bitterness that comes and goes. One major change is a prevalent mustiness that reminds me of a harsher version of what is present in some of Davidoff’s offerings, and the note gets pretty dominant in the profile at times. The draw continues to be excellent and the burn has evened up considerably compared to the first third. Strength bumps up a bit to just under a medium, but does not seem to be going much further very quickly.
The final third of the Foundry loses the buttery note, but adds some nuttiness to the profile and keeps the rest of the flavors as well: leather, oak, earth and slight white pepper. The sweetness that I could taste from the first two thirds has also disappeared, but the persistent bitterness remains until the end. The mustiness from the second third is still present in varying amounts, but never as strong as it was at the halfway point. Draw remains the same and the burn is fine to the end of the cigar. As expected, the strength ends the cigar just below medium.
- People are not going to be one the fence about the marketing of these cigars. Smokers will either hate the gimmickiness of the gear and background or will be impressed with the thought and effort that went into the marketing. I am firmly in the latter camp and applaud General Cigar for thinking way outside of the box.
- There is a significant difference in the color of the cigars we were given as samples and the cigars in the photos of the press release, with our samples being almost shockingly lighter in tone.
- I have to say, the gear that is included on the band with each cigar is interesting, to say the least. It is solid to the touch, not cheap or light feeling, and it is obvious that quite a bit of time and/or money was involved in producing it. However, I wonder if people will have problems with them rubbing up and beating up cigars in their humidors? The gear also makes the cigar a bit awkward to hold while smoking and throws off balance if you keep it on. We were told that people should keep the gears, as they would connect with pieces from future releases to build something specific.
- Having said the above, the ever present cynic in me wonders just how much each one of these gears adds to the cost of each one of these cigars.
- The boxes for each size are slightly different in regards to the artwork with additional details for each inventor. In addition, the names are spelled in reverse.
- The booth for the Foundry at the IPCPR show in Orlando this year was well put together, and had some very interesting elements, including Foundry team leader Michael Giannini, a custom built and fully functional steampunk rolling desk, library, a smoke machine and lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling on long cords.
- I have to say, when General Cigar decides to do something, they go all out. The steampunk rolling desk that they had in the booth was a thing of absolute beauty, and was custom built almost totally out of antique parts by Dr. Grymm Laboratories. You can see all the photos you want here, and believe me, it is worth the time to look.
- There is a number on the band (see above), but the number was the same on all three of the samples I had, so I have to assume that it is not a specific number that changes with each cigar (i.e. Padrón), but just a visual part of the band.
- I have to be honest, every time General uses an extremely aged wrapper, I have been disappointed in the results. After all, the wrapper for the Partagas 150 and Partagas 160 uses a wrapper that is now 35 years old, and it tastes like it.
- The band is extremely easy to take off and does not damage the cigar in any way at all, nice to see.
- The mustiness in the second third reminded me quite a bit of a similar note in some AVO and Davidoff cigars, just not as rich or pronounced.
- In this video with Stogie Review, Giannini seems to claim the filler is not Dominican, Honduran, Mexican or Nicaraguan. He says he wanted to make a blend with tobacco that is not used in the industry or by General Cigar.
- The ash is nice a nice light grey color and while it does have tendency to be flaky, it did stay on the cigar for more than an inch before falling for the first time, wavy burn notwithstanding.
- The Cayley size is truly unique. The foot looks like it was sliced off.
- The finish on the cigar is extremely short, one of the shortest I have tasted in a while.
- You do not want to smoke this cigar too fast. The second you start puffing hard on this stick, it lets you know instantly by turning bitter. Slow down smoking, or you will be punished.
- Smoke production is below average throughout the cigar, and extremely thin.
- The cigars smoked for this review were given to halfwheel at IPCPR 2012 by General Cigar Co.
- The final smoking time for both samples averaged about one hour and 35 minutes.
When talking about this cigar, people, albeit mostly people working at General, said variations of the same thing to me, "the profile of the Foundry is something you have not tasted before,"—and I was really hoping that would be the case. Alas, that was not to be. In fact, not only is the profile fairly uninspired, but the burn issues in the first third and the persistent bitterness added a level of annoyance to the experience. While it does not seem to happen often, it is not impossible for one of the super large companies to produce a very good cigar—see my VegaFina review from earlier in the year for proof—but this is just not one of them.