When it came time for Foundation Cigar Co. to add a pair of new sizes to its The Tabernacle line, company owner Nicholas Melillo drew on a very famous biblical story, David & Goliath.

The story, which appears in the first book of Samuel in the Old Testament of the Bible, tells of a battle between the Israelites and the Philistines. Goliath, champion of the Philistines challenges anyone to decide the outcome of the battle via a single fight, a challenge eventually accepted by David, who arms himself with only his staff, a sling and five stones. David defeats his much larger opponent, causing the Philistines to flee.

It is a story that has crossed over and become a metaphor, even a motivational speech, for those facing seemingly insurmountable odds, and also a reminder that no matter how big or powerful one might become, not to overlook what might seem like a small threat.

Both the David and Goliath cigars are perfectos, with David the smaller of the two, measuring 5 x 54, while the larger Goliath measures 5 x 58. Both use The Tabernacle blend of a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper, a Mexican San Andrés binder, and fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua, and are made by Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.

“Anyone who has smoked Connecticut cigar brands of old knows the Perfecto is a classic size,” said Melillo in a press release when the cigars were announced  “Back in the day it was the vitola of choice for connoisseur. When it came time to create a line extension to the Tabernacle, the blend in these two sizes could not be ignored.”

Here’s what I said about The Tabernacle David when I reviewed it in December 2020:

If someone were to ask me my thoughts about The Tabernacle David, I would respond with it depends. One cigar was very good with rich, vibrant flavors, while the other two offered moments that were enjoyable but not a completely flaw-free experience. The earthiness is enjoyable, and while it can offer some brilliant sweetness, it can also get rough on the palate. Similarly, while the supporting flavors had moments, they seemed hesitant to develop enough to fill in or cover those rougher spots. Much like Charlie Minato noted in his review of the corona vitola, The Tabernacle blend seems to show variance among its vitolas, with some clearly performing better than others. For me, the David leaves just enough lacking that I don’t think it would be my go-to size, though I remain open to the idea that it might be more appealing to other palates. For my preferences, I still think the thicker ring gauges are the way to go in this blend.

  • Cigar Reviewed: The Tabernacle David
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
  • Binder: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Perfecto
  • MSRP: $12 (Box of 25, $300)
  • Release Date: October 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

I’ve always been intrigued by the elongated head of The Tabernacle David, as it definitely lengthens the cigar, but it also feels a bit non-traditional for this kind of vitola. If I didn’t see the lower half of the cigar, I’d certainly think this was a torpedo. The cigar looks to be rolled well, and it is definitely firm in terms of density. The wrapper has a dark brown color, some small scattered veins, and it still has a bit of oiliness to the leaf. Without seeing the original leaf it’s hard to tell how the cigar was finished, but there is enough color variance on this cigar to reveal the cuts that were used to cap the head and finish the foot. The wrapper has a distinct smell of leather, particularly an aged leather jacket or pair of shoes. I could make a case for a bit of flat root beer as well, though it’s very faint. The small opening of the foot doesn’t give off a lot of smells, in fact, it seems to offer less than just the wrapper on its own, though the combination of the right angle in a more receptive nostril does yield more of the leather and root beer. I’m slightly surprised by the airflow of the cold draw given two tapered ends, but there’s not much resistance or obstruction. Also of note, the shape of the cigar makes it feel out of balance in my mouth; it’s not an issue if I’m holding the cigar, but if I go hands-free, it definitely becomes noticeable.

Even though I’m using a flat flame lighter at the moment, I opt for a single flame torch to not completely char the bottom of the cigar. It only takes a moment to get The Tabernacle David lit and burning, with the first puffs on the dry side and flavors of toast and a light dry earth with an aspect that reminds me of brick. There’s a bit of pepper behind that, with more to be found in the retrohales and an intense tickling of my nostrils as a result. Black coffee is the next in the profile, and while I think I’m getting sweetness either on its own or as a byproduct of one of the other flavors thus far, it is subtle and fleeting, both in the profile and the finish. As the burn line begins to get to a point where it is encroaching on the secondary band, the profile takes on a new complexity and it feels like everything is starting to come together. There’s also now sweet cedar and a sweetness that I can’t quite place, other than it reminds me a bit of smoky applesauce or apple pie filling. While it’s not causation, taking off the band seems to be correlated with a slowing of the flavor development, and then the flavor loses what sweetness it had, as smoky, dry wood is the next to enter the mix. The coffee bean note has also departed, and as the midpoint approaches I find that the pepper has changed a bit as well, now less sharp upfront as it coats the palate and nostrils and sets up for a longer finish. Construction has been very good this far with plenty of smoke, a smooth draw, and an even burn line. Flavor is medium to medium-plus, body is medium, and strength is medium-minus.

The second half of The Tabernacle David starts with a smokier profile, making me think of a campfire that is beginning to reach its conclusion. There is still a lot of pepper in the retrohales, and it seems to intensify and sharpen on the finish, a change from how it behaved earlier. Meanwhile, the flavor begins to reintroduce some sweetness, and while I don’t think it’s completely accurate, the first thought that comes to mind is apricot syrup. The final third brings about another little shift, as the sweetness departs and the earthiness pivots to pick up a bit of an Altoids mint sensation and just a little bit of chalk and mineral, though neither is off-putting. The wood and pepper combination takes the cigar to its conclusion, and with this combination there seems to be a bit more texture to the smoke, which sits differently on my taste buds than it did earlier. The cigar finishes up at medium-plus in flavor, medium in body, and medium-minus in strength. Construction remains fantastic, as the cigar has burned flawlessly since being lit. Smoking time wraps up at about an hour and 40 minutes.

92 Overall Score

When I smoked The Tabernacle David a little over two years ago, I noted that it was a good but not flawless cigar, driven by earthiness with highlights of sweetness, though with spots that can cause a bit of irritation. The good parts of the cigar are still there and in the case of this one cigar, are now better than I remember them, while there was almost no irritation from start to finish. What really caught my attention was the incredibly enjoyable and engaging experience in the first third when flavors seem to be getting rapidly layered upon another as the cigar reached its full ring gauge. The midway point slows those changes but the cigar still has a pair of pivots in its future, largely with the introduction and departure of sweetness and then a shift to a dry, woody and peppery finish. Retrohales were also very good and beneficial to the overall experience, while construction was fantastic across the board. It appears that in the case of the cigar smoked for this redux, time was definitely beneficial, as this fairly small cigar delivers a big experience without needing to deliver a knockout blow.

Original Score (December 2020)
Redux Score (January 2023)
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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.