In January 2014, Nicholas Melillo left his job as the executive vice-president of international operations for Drew Estate Tobacco Company. Soon after, he founded Melillo International—a consulting firm for purchasing tobacco and blending—but even with that move, it was no great surprise when Melillo announced he was starting his own cigar company the next year.

That business was Foundation Cigar Co., and while fans of his creations at Drew Estate expected the self-proclaimed “chief of broadleaf” to use that specific wrapper leaf on his new company’s debut release, that did not turn out to be the case. In fact, it took another year for Melillo to release a cigar utilizing a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper in a blend named The Tabernacle.

Two years later, Foundation released a four vitola line as a followup to The Tabernacle dubbed The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No.142. As the name suggests, the cover leaf is Havana Seed CT No.142, a variation of a Cuban-seed tobacco grown in Connecticut. In addition, much of the rest of the tobacco in the blend of the newer cigar is the same as the original Tabernacle, including the same Mexican San Andrés binder and a filler blend made up of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco. However, Melillo has stated that there is less Honduran tobacco in the Havana Seed CT No.142 than in the original line.

A 7 x 40 lancero vitola was added to the original four sizes at the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, but not much was seen from the brand after that until September of this year, when Foundation announced it was adding its David and Goliath perfectos to the line. Named after the characters in the biblical Book of Samuel, the 5 x 54 and 5 x 58 vitolas were first introduced in October 2020 as part of the original Tabernacle lineup. Both sizes are made at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.and began shipping to retailers packaged in boxes of 25 in October.

The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No.142 line currently includes seven different vitolas:

  • Cigar Reviewed: Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No.142 Goliath
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Habano)
  • Binder: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 58
  • Vitola: Perfecto
  • MSRP: $14 (Box of 25, $350)
  • Release Date: October 2021
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Short and stubby with a pointed cap and large open nipple foot, the Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No.142 Goliath is somewhat visually similar to Drew Estate’s Liga Privada Feral Flying Pig, albeit a bit shorter and sans the “pig tail” on the cap. This cigar is also covered in an extremely dark espresso brown wrapper that has a bit of oil on it and is velvety smooth to the touch. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of cedar, earth, generic nuts and slight plastic, while the foot brings notes of raisins, cedar, leather, cocoa nibs and light brown sugar. After a simple straight cut, the cold draw includes flavors of strong barnyard, hay, earth, leather, generic wood and faint berry sweetness.

Toasting the open nipple foot immediately brings a strong—and not overly pleasant—flavor of burnt plastic on the palate along with some noticeable black pepper and spice on my gums. Thankfully, that flavor note does not last long at all and is quickly replaced by the main notes of leather and earth. Additional flavors of cedar, almonds, barnyard, hay and slight floral flit in and out, while I pick up a combination of black pepper and raspberry jam sweetness on the retrohale. Two samples have no construction issues at all and plenty of smoke, but one needs a couple of corrections to avoid larger problems and also features thinner smoke. Flavor is medium, body is medium but rising and the strength starts out medium but is poised to go higher as the first third ends.

There is not much change in the profile of the Goliath during the second third with gritty earth and leather tack still easily leading the way, followed by secondary notes of hay, generic nuts, cedar and slight floral. The amount of black pepper on the retrohale has increased noticeably, but unfortunately, the raspberry jam sweetness has not matched that increase, although it is still present enough to place with certainty. There are issues in construction as well, including two cigars that need quick touch-ups, while both the draw and smoke production are excellent on all three. Flavor has increased to medium-full, body is just below medium-full and the strength hits a point just under full by the end of the second third.

The final third of the Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No.142 Goliath can be summed up in four words: same flavors, more strength. Leather tack and earth lead the profile, with notes of hay, cedar, almonds, clay and potato chips showing up at various times. There is more spice on my tongue as well as more black pepper on the retrohale—at points, it is almost as if I am smoking a pepper grinder—and while I am still tasting some raspberry jam sweetness, there is not nearly enough to balance out the aforementioned pepper. Thankfully, the construction has evened up enough so that none of the three samples needs any corrections with my lighter, although the burn line is not close to razor sharp at any point. Flavor and body end at medium-full, while the strength easily hits the full mark about halfway through the final third and never looks back.

Final Notes

  • To be honest, I expected a vitola named “Goliath” to be a bit larger.
  • Along with the well-known Biblical giant, there have been a number of other times the Goliath name has been used in popular culture, including with as a Marvel comic character, a television show and even a brewery.
  • The artwork on the band is extremely well done, but you may notice that David is holding a sword on the label instead of wielding a sling. This is because the Bible makes it clear that David cut off Goliath’s head after killing him with the stone he hurled at the giant with his sling.
  • According Wikipedia, in the Jewish religion the Tabernacle was “the portable earthly dwelling place of Yahweh (the God of Israel) used by the Israelites from the Exodus until the conquest of Canaan” and was said to contain the  Ark of the Covenant.

  • Instead of being blank white, the Foundation logo is printed in black on the inside of the main band.
  • The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No.142 corona not only took the 18th spot in halfwheel’s Top 25 list for 2018, but also came in 11th place in the 2019 The Consensus.
  • While the burn on the samples I smoked for this review was not exactly amazing—in fact, all three needed at least one correction—each featured an excellent draw and copious amounts of thick, gray smoke.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time for all three samples averaged two hours and 12 minutes.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No.142 Goliath cigars, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Corona Cigar Co. and Famous Smoke Shop all them in stock.
88 Overall Score

I have loved the Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No.142 corona when I have smoked it in the past, but the Goliath vitola is a similar profile on a whole bunch of steroids. In fact, it not only has more black pepper on the retrohale and more strength, it is also noticeably more aggressive on the palate and has some issues with balance in the final third compared to the thinner size. With that said, there are plenty of flavors to be found—albeit almost wholly in the earth and leather realm—and the raspberry jam sweetness on the retrohale is a very nice addition to the profile. If you want nuance go with the corona vitola, but those looking for a somewhat similar profile than the rest of the line in a much stronger version have found it.

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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.