In 2017, Foundation Cigar Co. followed up its debut El Güegüense with a maduro version, known as The Wise Man Maduro.

It uses a Mexican San Andrés maduro covering a Nicaraguan corojo 99 binder from sourced from Jalapa and filler tobaccos form Estelí and Jalapa. Five regular production sizes were available at launch, none of which were thinner than 46 ring gauge.

That changed last June, when Foundation announced it would be releasing The Wise Man Maduro Lancero, a 7 1/2 x 40 soft-pressed lancero. While it is not a limited edition per se, the first release that shipped to retailers in September 2018 consisted of only 500 boxes of 13, with each cigar priced at $13.

Nicholas Melillo, Foundation’s founder, explained the release:

I was inspired by the reputation of the Lancero format, known for an appeal that tends to run deeper into the cigar connoisseur realm, to use an artistic rendering of El Güegüense, also known as Macho Raton, as the central figure on our 13 count box. As this deeper story goes, El Güegüense traveled between the different colonial territories of Mexico and Central America in order to sell his goods. Accompanied by his sons, Don Forisco (his right hand) and Don Ambrosio (his detractor), they, and four mules (machos), ‘Machomoto, Macho-viejo, Macho-Mohino and Macho-guajaqueno were used for his heavy work, and symbolized how the indigenous population was being treated by the Spanish colonizers.

The Wise Man Maduro now includes six sizes, all of which are made at the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. factory (TABSA) in Estelí, Nicaragua.

  • The Wise Man Maduro Churchill (7 x 48) — $11 (Boxes of 25, $275)
  • The Wise Man Maduro Corona Gorda (5 5/8 x 46) — $9.90 (Boxes of 25, $247.50)
  • The Wise Man Maduro Robusto (5 1/2 x 50) — $10.50 (Boxes of 25, $262.50)
  • The Wise Man Maduro Toro Huaco (6 x 56) — $11.50 (Boxes of 25, $287.50)
  • The Wise Man Maduro Torpedo (6 1/4 x 52) — $16 (Boxes of 25, $320)
  • The Wise Man Maduro Lancero (7 1/2 x 40) — $13 (Boxes of 13, $169)

  • Cigar Reviewed: The Wise Man Maduro Lancero
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí & Jalapa)
  • Length: 7 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 40
  • Vitola: Lancero
  • MSRP: $13 (Box of 13, $169)
  • Release Date: September 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 13 Cigars (6,500 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Visually, The Wise Man Maduro Lancero is covered in a rustic and dark espresso brown wrapper that is extremely smooth to the touch, albeit with a large number of small bumps. It is quite firm when squeezed, and the soft box press is a nice touch. The aroma from the wrapper is a combination of gritty earth, leather, clay, oak, floral and vanilla while the cold draw brings flavors of strong dark chocolate, black pepper, sweet almonds, hay and raisin sweetness.

The Wise Man Maduro Lancero is a chocolate bomb from the first puff, with cocoa nibs flavor dominating the profile interested with other notes of earth, oak, freshly roasted coffee, leather and a touch of floral. There is some slight black pepper on the retrohale early on that begins to recede almost immediately, but there is no spice to be had and I am distinct raisin sweetness on the retrohale that is pulled over from the cold draw. Construction-wise, the draw just the right amount of resistance and the burn is virtually razor sharp so far. Smoke production is a bit thin off of the foot—although within normal limits—and the overall strength easily hits a point firmly between mild and medium by the time the first third ends.

There is not much change in the profile of The Wise Man Maduro Lancero in the second third, and that is a very good thing, as the profile is chock full of the same cocoa nibs and oak combination that was so rich in the first third. Other notes that flit in and out as well, including hay, leather, barnyard, floral, coffee beans and yeast, each of which is distinct enough to recognize but never coming close to being strong enough to become dominant. After starting out with a noticeably amount of black pepper on the retrohale, it has decreased noticeably by the halfway point, allowing more of the raisin sweetness to show its hand. While the draw continues to give me no issues, the burn has decided to act up, forcing me to touch it up before it gets way too out of hand. Finally, the smoke production has increased a bit in density, and while the overall strength increases a bit as well, it fails to hit the medium mark by the end of the second third. 

As has been the case in the first two thirds of The Wise Man Maduro, the final third is dominated by the same extreme chocolate cocoa nib and creamy oak combination that have never come close to ebbing. Interestingly, the black pepper on the retrohale actually increases slightly right before the end of the cigar, which gives a bit more strength to the other flavors in the profile which includes leather tack, dough, salted peanuts, coffee beans, cloves and tree bark. In addition, the raisin sweetness on the retrohale has increased again while the black pepper on the retrohale remains about the same until the end of the cigar. Thankfully, the burn gets back on the correct path and doesn’t give me any more issues, while the draw continues along its excellent path and the overall strength finally hits a point just above the medium mark just as I put the nub down with a bit more than an inch left.

Final Note

  • I absolutely love the art for this release, from the bands to the amazing piece that is located on the inside of the lid.
  • The ash from this cigar falls in small bits with no warning whatsoever, so much so that I had to constantly be aware where the foot was or risk ash all over myself or my computer.
  • Having said the above, the over all construction on my three samples was excellent, with only two cigars needing a touchup in the second and final thirds, while the draw gave me no issues whatsoever.
  • The Wise Man Maduro took the number 22 spot in halfwheel’s Top 25 for 2017.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time for all three samples averaged a relatively quick one hour and 18 minutes.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Cigar Hustler, Famous Smoke Shop and STOGIES World Class Cigars all have The Wise Man Maduro Lancero in stock.
90 Overall Score

I am a big fan of what a lancero vitola can bring to the table for most releases, and the Wise Man Maduro Lancero is a great example of how much impact it can have on a blend. Having said that, the thinnest ring gauge in the line does not actually make the blend better, rather it changes it pretty significantly. While the richness and complexity continue to be a major part of the profile compared to the other two sizes I have smoked—namely the Corona Gorda and the Robusto—the pepper that was so prevalent in the larger sizes has been tamed noticeably. The dominant flavors are also quite different, with the lancero full of chalky cocoa nibs and creamy oak, along with a distinct raisin sweetness on the retrohale that binds everything together wonderfully. In the end, while The Wise Man Maduro Lancero is very different in almost every way than the rest of the vitolas in the line, the most important attribute remains the fact that it is a cigar easily worth the time and effort to track down.

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.