Foundation Cigar El Gueguense – Pre-Release Review

Since my co-workers returned from the trade show the number one question asked of me is; “Have you smoked the new Nick Melillo cigar?” Until today the answer was no, but after about 50 people asking for my opinion I decided to light it up today and smoke this pre-release from the man known as Nick~R~Agua on social media.

The brand El Güegüense (Gwe-gwe-nse) translates into The Wise Man. According to a statement on the Foundation Cigar Company website, “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.

Perhaps the most anticipated cigar release of the year, this review is based on a sample received at IPCPR and has been in my humidor for close to a week. The cigar will come in 5 sizes: Corona Gorda (5 5/8 x 46/$9.90 MSRP); Robusto (5.5 x 50/$10.50); Churchill (7 x 48/$11.00); Torpedo (6.25 x 52/$11.50) and Toro Huaco (6 x 56/$12.00)

Cigar Review: El Gueguense
Size: 5 5/8 x 46 (Corona Gorda)
Wrapper: Nicaragua Corojo ’99 (Jalapa)
Binder: Nicaragua Corojo ’99 (Jalapa)
Filler: Nicaragua Corojo ’99 (Jalapa), Nicaragua Criollo ’98 (Esteli)
Strength: Medium
Source: Foundation Cigar Company

The Look: The band features my favorite shade of blue; and has a lot going on in the center. Upon close inspection one can make out the costumes of the masterpiece referred to by the company in their notes. The gold on the band provides a nice accent on the overly colorful art work. As far as the cigar itself it has a nice chestnut color hue to it with some thin veins and a nearly seamless roll. In the hand the cigar has no soft spots, and a well packed slightly spongy foot.

The Notes: The cold draw is incredibly sweet like a red twizzler licorice candy. It is syrupy like the juice in canned cherries. The foot serves up a subtle black pepper, that offers an amazing contrast to the sweetness of the cold draw.

Once the cigar is lit there is there are notes of nuts with some faint hints of chocolate. Progressing into the first third of the cigar, there is also a cedar element present with a touch of earth.

In the second third of the El Gueguense some of the sweetness from the prelight draw really begins to shine with elements of cherries and caramel. The earth remains as a canvas for the sweetness that dances around the palate.

The last third of the cigar introduces some chocolate to the palate once again as well as the aroma which is extremely enjoyable and even more noticeable as the cigar burns down. The element of earth remained consistent throughout the smoke and in the last third it was especially evident on the moderate finish.

The Burn: From the moment the cigar is lit, it performs as a cigar should. The burn line was mostly even and considering it is a trade show sample that is good enough for me. The draw of the cigar was perfect serving up the right amount of resistance and the light ash held firm. The cigar remained lit from first light to last puff.

Overall: Based upon Nick’s work with Liga Privada in the past one might think that the cigar would have more strength to it, and that isn’t saying the cigar is mild. The El Gueguense is balanced with a lot of flavor and to me that trumps expectations. The cigar creates the foundation (pun, intended) for a strong future and this one should develop a following when it ships to retailers later this year.

Score: 92
Price: $9.90

Bullet Points
(Random Thoughts While Smoking)

  • Even though I have been in the cigar business since 1998, I have never met Nick Melillo
  • I am curious to who will get off to a faster start and obtain long term stability: Nick Melillo or Steve Saka.
  • There are parts of the band I love, but I think there is too much going on in the center of the band.
  • Most companies give out a robusto at the IPCPR; I love that Nick gave out a corona gorda.
  • While I expected something more full bodied, I love the sweetness that Jalapa tobacco brings to the table.
  • The band removed with ease.
  • Smoking time was 1 hour 25 minutes.
  • My beverage was Cuban coffee and this was the first cigar of the day for me.
Gueguense

Gueguense

Gueguense Foot

Gueguense Foot

Gueguense Burn

Gueguense Burn