I preface this with: I actually think the Oval is a decent cigar and this is by no means the first time this has happened; Jason Wood. Unfortunately, A.J. Fernandez has sort of fallen into my lap in terms of being the target topic of the next editorial. At stake are two issues: the “A.J. is the next Pepín” idea and the insanity that is the B&M only tag manufacturers continue to place on products.

First and foremost, manufacturers continuing to bother with “B&M only” is at this point asinine. Seriously, just stop. At this point, all you are doing is upsetting retailers and customers when it shows up in the C.I. catalog five months later.

Now, why people are constantly in search of the next Pepín as if it’s Ark of the Covenant is beyond me. A.J. is A.J., Pepín is Pepín. The “next Pepín” tag has been applied to the younger Cuban for a while now, and as far as I’m concerned, there’s little that’s come to fruition that would warrant such a tag. While I’m not the largest fan of San Lotano, I think we can all agree there’s a gap between A.J. and Pepín. Furthermore, A.J. has one skill set, Pepín another. But even beyond the talent, it’s hard to imagine a world where A.J. could be Pepín. The reality is that A.J.’s commitments to Cigars Intentional are a huge roadblock to what’s necessary to make a portfolio of quality lines to compete on the national level. Quite frankly, the C.I. money is just too good.

And nothing shows C.I.’s money like San Lotano — Cigar.com, the sister site of C.I., was the first retailer to have A.J.’s newest (B&M only) San Lotano, the Oval. But then again, welcome to the business. — el niño diablo.

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.