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Cigar Review: El Güegüense Churchill

31 Oct 2016

churchill-1 has been covering the annual IPCPR Trade Show for a decade, but there are a few things I especially remember about the 2015 convention in Las Vegas. Aside from the scorching heat outside on The Strip, I recall this being the first show where a sense of FDA foreboding seemingly permeated every conversation. I remember the sheer volume of exhibiting cigar makers, which seemed notably more numerous than previous years. And I recollect the excitement about the new cigars coming to market from former Drew Estate tobacco men Steve Saka and Nicholas Melillo.

churchill-2You’ll recall Melillo, who formerly served as executive vice president of international operations at Drew Estate, announced the formation of the Foundation Cigar Company shortly before the 2015 convention. At the time, all we knew was his first solo outfit would be headquartered in Connecticut, and the first blend would be made at the TABSA (Tobaccos Valle de Jalapa) factory in Nicaragua, using Aganorsa tobacco.

Today, many of us have smoked the blend El Güegüense—also known as “The Wise Man”—which is a Nicaraguan puro with a Corojo ’99 wrapper from Jalapa that’s described as “rosado rosado café.” There are five vitolas: Robusto, Toro, Torpedo, Corona Gorda, and Chuchill. The latter measures 7 inches with a ring gauge of 48 and retails for $11.

Aside from its red-tinted color, the first thing you notice about the Churchill when it’s in your hand is the smoothness of the wrapper. Whether the velvety touch is due to the cigar’s tight seams, abundant surface oils, or some combination of the two, it’s definitely silky to the touch. And the well-executed cap and firm feel only reinforce the message of quality. The pre-light notes are soft and floral with traces of white pepper and cedar.

After setting an even light, a spice-forward profile emerges with plenty of cinnamon and pepper. But there are plenty of balancing flavors in the not-too-distant background, including honey, melon, and subtle sweetness. As it settles into the midway point, the Churchill exhibits a little less spice with more dry wood and a molasses-like sweetness with some barbeque char. Hints of hay, graham, and chocolate come and go. The finale witnesses a reprise of spice with abundant cedar and more cinnamon.

While the burn is imperfect, it’s also well-behaved enough to dismiss the need for any touch-ups along the way. The draw is moderate, the smoke production average, and the gray ash is unstable and a bit flaky for my liking. That said, the well-balanced taste is enticing from light to nub.

Interestingly, the medium-bodied El Güegüense is a Nicaraguan puro from a Nicaraguan-centric cigar maker, yet the profile is—to me, at least—decidedly Cubanesque. It brings loads of harmonious, balanced flavors to the fore, leaving the heavy-handed characteristics of many Nicaraguan cigars behind. The Corona Gorda remains my favorite vitola (I think the Churchill overstays its welcome a bit), yet this thoughtfully built cigar is worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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