19 Nov 2014
A.J. Fernandez is one of the most respected cigar makers in the world. And deservedly so. He has one of the best résumés you could hope to come across in the industry.
Born in Cuba, Fernandez 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 companies including Rocky Patel, Padilla, Graycliff, and Gurkha, as well as crafting exclusive cigars for catalog giant Cigars International (for whom he makes Diesel, Man O’ War, La Herencia, and others.) Then, in 2010, he introduced his first solo national brand, San Lotano, which became a hit.
These days, Fernandez’s portfolio includes Pinolero, Mayimbe, New World, and five different San Lotano blends. He also has a line called Fallen Angel, which features an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper from the highest priming available around Nicaraguan tobaccos.
There are five Fallen Angel vitolas sold in the affordable $6-8 range: Churchill (7 x 48), Double Toro (6 x 60), Toro (6 x 50), Torpedo (6 x 52), and Robusto (5 x 52). The latter—gifted to me by the fine folks at CigarsFor.Me—is box-pressed with a clean, moderately oily wrapper that’s almost vein-free. The cap is executed well, the seams are barely noticeable, and the pre-light notes remind me of dry earth and milk chocolate.
As I set the light, I notice the draw is a little stiff. Still, once the foot is burning evenly, each puff seems to yield ample smoke. Once underway, a medium-bodied profile emerges with notes of oak, black pepper, and a syrupy sweetness. I find the flavor balanced and pleasing, though not terribly complex.
After an inch, a spicy aftertaste of cinnamon and cedar introduces itself—just in time to pique my interest after a start that’s, frankly, a little lackluster. Tastes of cream and pecan join the fray at the midway point. The final third is characterized by more intensity and more spice, though I can’t say the Robusto ever leaves the medium-bodied spectrum.
Throughout, the physical properties are exactly what you’d expect from Tabacalera Fernandez in Estelí: superb. The white ash holds incredibly well, the burn never requires so much as a touch-up, and the draw opens nicely after the first few puffs.
This is not A.J. Fernandez’s finest cigar, and I doubt it will amaze anyone. That said, it’s tasty, well-built, and affordable. You might consider keeping a few on hand for an afternoon complement to coffee, or to share with guests who are infrequent cigar smokers (this is a very approachable smoke). Overall, I rate the Fallen Angel Robusto three stogies out of five.
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photo credit: Stogie Guys