Cigar Review: El Gueguense by Foundation Cigar Company

El Gueguense by Foundation Cigar Company

The 2015 IPCPR Trade Show in New Orleans, LA welcomed a new company and cigar into its venue this year. Foundation Cigar Company is introducing their highly anticipated cigar, El Gueguense (pronounced L Gweh-Gwen-Say.) It is translated to mean “The Wise Man” and derives from the ancient Aztec language, Nahuatl. The cigar was named after the main character in a satirical drama that had been the first literary work of post-Columbian Nicaragua. It is known as one of the most distinctive colonial-era expressions and as Nicaragua’s signature folkloric masterpiece combining music, dance, and theater. El Gueguense is still performed today during the feast of San Sabastian in Diriamba.

“For five hundred years, Nicaragua has served as a crossroads of cultures, ever since indigenous inhabitants mocked arriving Spanish conquistadors in a colorful, costumed satirical masterpiece called “El Güegüense” (Gwe-gwe-nse), or “The Wise Man.” It is Nicaragua’s signature work of drama, the ultimate expression of its unique history, language, dance, and culture. This Gran Baile, or great dance, continues today, not only in the form of long-held folkloric performances, but in the careful blending of Nicaragua’s tobacco, which is some of the richest, most flavorful filler tobacco in the world. Master blender Nicholas Melillo has worked tirelessly to create and honor the great dance of flavors which you are about to experience in El Güegüense cigars.” as quoted from the Foundation Cigar Company’s website.

Nick Melillo, AKA Nick-R-agua, the owner of Foundation Cigar Company and the creator of the El Gueguense cigar, had just started his business last year in 2014 after serving many successful years in the cigar industry. Mr. Melillo is originally from Connecticut where he ran a brick and mortar cigar shop in the 1990’s. One of the companies he purchased orders from was Drew Estate. After some years of building a business relationship and getting to know Jonathan Drew, Mr. Melillo packed up everything and moved to Nicaragua in 2003 on a new journey to go to work for Drew Estate.

Mr. Melillo quickly became successful in the company becoming Jonathan Drew’s right-hand man and overseeing the blending, quality control, and fermentation of cigars among other responsibilities. Mr. Melillo started to create his own tobacco blends to include many extremely popular cigars that remain at the top of Drew Estate’s demand list today. Some of these blends include the Liga Privada #9, Liga Privada T52, UF13, Dirty Rat, L40, Feral Flying Pig, and Nica Rustica to name just a few out of many of these socko blends. He even worked alongside the factory workers to develop the Undercrown cigar.

El Gueguense is a Nicaraguan Puro cigar made in the Tobacos Valle de Jalapa (TABSA) factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. It’s consisted of several Nicaraguan tobacco leaves that were reaped in Jalapa and Esteli. The wrapper is made of Nicaraguan Corojo 99 Jalapa and the binder is created using the same leaf as the wrapper. The fillers are Nicaraguan Corojo 99 and Nicaraguan Criollo 98 Jalapa and Esteli.

As quoted from the Foundation Cigar Company’s website –

“These cigars are made with a blend of Cuban Criollo 98 and Corojo 99 varieties. Harvested in the areas of Jalapa and Esteli.
Leaves from the third, forth , sixth and medio tiempo primings were used to obtain good strength, aroma and flavor.
Aroma – Intense with hints of honey, wood and pepper
Sabor – Woody, cedar, hints of sweetness, and mouth-watering , characteristics of Habanos.
Color – Rosado Rosado Cafè
Fortaleza – Medium to Strong
Draw – Impressive
Combustion – Very stable
Ash– gray / silver”

The El Gueguense cigar will be packaged in elegant 25-count boxes and will come in 5 different vitolas:

5 1/2 x 50 Robusto
5 5/8 x 46 Corona Gorda
6 x 56 Toro Huaco
6 1/4 x 52 Torpedo
7 x 48 Churchill

Their pricing will be between $9.00-$13.00 per stick.

“This brand is all about Nicaragua and my love of Nicaragua. Yes, this is a new cigar but this brand is over a decade of walking the factory floor and breathing tobacco as my life. This is twelve years of being with the people in Esteli, building relationships and getting to know friends and their families. I really want this brand to show my passion and love for a country that has become my home.” – Nick Melillo

The Review

This Robusto (5 1/2 x 50) El Gueguense is dressed in a light brown wrapper leaf that shows no veins with tight seams. The oils in the wrapper shine brilliantly in the light. This cigar has a very smooth feel to it. The seams are not noticeable in the touch. It has a mouth-watering aroma of cedar and sweet tobacco coming off the wrapper while the fillers smell of sweet and rich tobacco. The straight cut went well with a small amount of loose tobacco falling. The dry draw brings flavors of sweet cedar and tobacco. The band is a beautiful work of art depicting Native Americans dressed as El Gueguense and smoking cigars with a blue background which is outlined in gold. At the top of the band, between the picture and the gold outline, are the words “El Gueguense” and underneath it “The Wise Man.” At the bottom of the band, between the picture and the gold outline are the words “Esteli, Nicaragua.” Where the ends of the band meet are what appear to be some Native American artwork flanked by what looks like a golden mountain peak with the stamped words “Foundation Cigar Co.” encircling the mountain peak.

Upon toasting and lighting this cigar it immediately starts off with mild spiciness and strong cedar flavors. As the cigar burns through the first third the ash is a nice gray color and the burn line is a little uneven, but no tunnel is forming. The spiciness weakens about halfway through this initial part of the stick. At the end of the first third the burn line is still a bit uneven, but the gray ash is still holding on strong. The time frame for this first piece was 20 minutes.

Going into the second part of the cigar the spiciness has disappeared from the profile. The cedar taste is still the lead flavor with some coffee and wood notes making an appearance. There is a slight spice on the lips. The burn line is beginning to even itself out naturally. The ash is still holding on strong. About halfway through the cigar the spiciness has left the flavor profile leaving the cedar and wood battling for the lead. The coffee is a background player. The cedar isn’t as strong as it was earlier on in the first third. Burning towards the end of the second third the ash finally fell to the ground. There is an earthy taste starting to make its way into the game. So far, through the first and second parts of the smoke, this stick has had a medium body to it. There is still a little bit of spice on the lips at the end of the second third. This middle part of El Gueguense has taken another 20 minutes to burn through.

By the beginning of the final third, the burn line has evened itself out with no touch-up. Cedar is still the leading flavor with wood, coffee, and earth coming in behind it. It is now moving from a medium to a full body smoke. The wood and earthiness is taking control of the coffee flavor as it burns down to the band. As I lick my lips I’m still getting that spiciness on my palette. The second ash is still holding on halfway through the last piece of the cigar. There are some hints of chocolate starting to come into the mixture of tastiness in this stick. The second ash fell a little past the halfway point of the last part of the smoke. The burn line still remains evened out as it burns nearer to the end. There is a strong cedar scent on the retro-hale. The scent of the smoke coming off the stick is also of cedar. When I finally put the cigar down it was a full-bodied smoke with cedar leading the flavors. Wood and earth coming in second leaving the coffee flavor almost defunct. This final episode took 30 minutes to burn through.

Conclusion

This cigar provided flavors of strong cedar, spiciness, wood, earth, coffee, and hints of chocolate. It started out as a medium-bodied stick and burned into a full-bodied smoke at the end. This was a great cigar to smoke during the hour and ten minutes it took to burn through it. I give two thumbs up to Nick Melillo on his first blend from his newly established company. It had great construction to it. There were no flaws to be found in this beautiful cigar. The tasty flavors danced around the palette throughout the smoking escapade. I would highly recommend this cigar to try and experience what represents a part of Nicaragua’s rich history. Till next time, my friends.

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