In 2016, Foundation Cigar Company owner Nick Melillo created an event only cigar that could only be obtained from him at select events. The cigar quickly developed a cult following leading the man known as Nick R. Agua to create a limited production, limited edition cigar that would become their most exclusive cigar. In 2020, the cigar would be released as a Short Robusto. Today the cigar is back in a Toro format. The Menelik is mamed after the ancient emperor of Ethiopia, who was said to be the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Menelik was also known as Ibn al-Hakim, which translates into “Son of the Wise Man.” It’s easy to see the familial relation between the Menelik and Foundation’s award-winning debut brand, El Güegüense (The Wise Man).
Cigar Review: Menelik by Foundation
Wrapper: San Andres
Binder: Nicaragua (Corojo ’99 Jalapa)
Filler: Nicaragua (Esteli, Condega, Jalapa)
Size: 6 x 52 (Toro)
The Look: Packaged in one row of 12 cigars the Menelik comes in cello despite the box having cutouts for the thick pigtail that adorns the cap of the cigar. The smooth San Andres wrapper has some subtle tooth and oils and is virtually vein free while being box pressed. The band features black, gold, green and red colors with a logo reminiscent of a Maltese Cross. In the hand the cigar is firm with no voids of tobacco although the cigar does feel a little light in weight.
The Notes: The cold draw serves up an initial component of dry cocoa powder before revealing some almond and spice with the aroma from the foot mimicking the cold draw. Once the cigar is lit there are notes of cherry peppers and a subtle chocolate component. As we settle into the Menelik Toro the chocolate notes become dominant with hints of almonds, cherry peppers and nutmeg.
As we smoke the toro offering the notes of chocolate are joined by a subtle blackberry sweetness with continued almonds and cherry peppers. Occasionally there were hints of licorice but they never materialized for more than a couple of puffs toward the end of the first third.
The Finish: It is said that this cigar will be an ongoing production cigar for Foundation Cigar Company but limited to 1,000 box runs at a time. This will result in the cigar being difficult to find for a bit and we think that is a shame as it is one of our favorite blends from Nick Melillo. The cigar is made at Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. which is better known as Aganorsa Leaf. This is a cigar that is a must grab if you see them in stock, and something to keep on your radar if you miss out.
Price: $16.69 / $178.99 (Box of 12)