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Cigar Review: A.J. Fernandez Pinolero Maduro Toro

31 Mar 2014

The other day I was browsing through our archive of cigar reviews, and I came across my colleague’s take on the Pinolero Toro from October 2012. It occurred to me I still hadn’t tried any of the Pinolero smokes—an oversight I needed to rectify given my respect for A.J. Fernandez as one of the industry’s best young cigar makers.

Pinolero ToroFernandez, of course, has one of the best cigar résumés you’ll ever see. Born in Cuba, he worked with the late Alejandro Robaina, Cuba’s foremost producer of top wrapper leaves and the namesake of the Vegas Robaina brand. Fernandez quickly gained fame making cigars for other cigar companies including Rocky Patel, Padilla, Graycliff, and Gurkha, as well as making exclusive cigars for catalog giant Cigars International (for whom he makes Diesel, Man O’ War, La Herencia, and other smokes.) Then, at the 2010 industry trade show, he introduced his first solo national brand, San Lotano, which became a hit.

A few years later Fernandez added the highly anticipated Pinolero (Spanish for “local”) line to his portfolio. It includes either a Nicaraguan sun-grown wrapper or a Maduro wrapper around a Nicaraguan binder. The filler tobaccos are part Nicaraguan Habano-seed and part proprietary. “Filled with rich, luxurious long-fillers and wrapped in coveted Fernandez Family leaves, this medium- to full-bodied smoke not only captures the highly complex flavors of exotic regional Nicaraguan tobacco, but also affords a highly aromatic mellowness which has become the brand standard of A.J.’s highly coveted products,” reads the A.J. Fernandez website.

Pinolero comes in six vitolas that range in price from $7 to $10: Corona, Robusto, Toro, Figurado, Churchill, and Gran Toro. I smoked two Maduro Toros (6 x 52) for this review. The Maduro Toro is a dark, extremely toothy cigar with a few large veins and some protruding seams, particularly at the cap. It sports an interesting, colorful band with pre-light notes of chocolate and spice. Despite its firmness and weight, the cold draw has only the slightest resistance.

Once lit, a savory profile emerges that instantly reminds me of mesquite. Tangy, spicy, and a little sweet, the Pinolero Maduro Toro’s balanced flavor includes notes of syrup, brown sugar, and herbs. The smoke is dense and moist, and it confronts the palate head-on, though not in an overly intense way. Cocoa, espresso, and spice become more prominent towards the end.

True to A.J. Fernandez form, the physical properties are superb. Both of my samples displayed solid ashes, straight burn lines, smooth draws, and plenty of smoke production.

Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay the Pinolero Maduro Toro is it doesn’t taste like anything else on the market. That makes it interesting and memorable. I’m disappointed I didn’t lock on to this gem sooner. It’s a great smoke, a good value, and worthy of a commendable rating of four stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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