Nick Melillo was in charge of tobacco for Drew Estate up until a couple years ago, when he left to start his own cigar business named Foundation Cigar Company. The cigar I’m reviewing today is the first one to be made by Nick since his departure from DE. El Gueguense (El-Wa-When-Say) is a Nicaraguan puro that come in five different sizes, all of which I’ve tried at least once.
The story of where this hard-to-pronounce name originates is a pretty cool one, if you as me. Here is the rundown from Foundation’s 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…”
What am I smoking?
Cigar Review: El Gueguense Toro Huaco
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
Wrapper: Corojo ‘99 (Jalapa, Nicaragua)
Binder: Corojo ‘99 (Jalapa, Nicaragua)
Filler: Corojo ’99, Criollo ’98 (Jalapa & Esteli)
Length: 6 Inches
Ring Gauge: 56
Strength: Medium / Full
Packaging & Design
The boxes El Gueguense come in are nicely decorated cedar boxes. There are gold medallions and splashes of color front and center, showcasing men wearing traditional Nicaraguan headdresses. The boxes feel solid in the hand and have quite a bit of weight to them. These hefty cigars also feature the same colorful theme on blue bands that contrast beautifully over this Rosado colored wrapper.
The cigar looks very well constructed with minimal veins and seems, but also has a slight rustic look to it. The wrapper, as I previously mentioned, has a warm red glow to it when held under sunlight. Holding this cigar in my hand, the only word I can think of to describe the look of it is “juicy”. This leaf has a nice oily sheen to it, and smells similar to Lindt’s Chili Dark Chocolate bars.
My sweet tooth is itching again…
Anyway, the cigar cut very clean. Notes on the pre-light draw include soft peppery notes followed by a semi-sweet bakers chocolate flavor. The wrapper here is savory and meaty, leaving a bit of oily sweetness on my lips.
The El Gueguense lights easily, and right away aromas of strong cedar begin to escape the foot. On the draw, there is a very present sensation of black pepper with a kick of cayenne spice. Though this is a dominant flavor, there are nuances of cashews, almonds, leather and earth also present in the smoke.
Getting into the second third, the body starts to pick up and the strength increases a bit as well. Balanced flavors of dark chocolate and driftwood start to appear, and the finish lingers with hints of aged tobacco and molasses. The peppery notes at this point have calmed down a bit, smoothing out the flavor. The construction of the cigar at this point is great, the burn did dip to one side for a short time but managed to quickly correct itself with no assistance from me.
Finishing up on this Nicaraguan puro, the last couple inches are where this blend shines. The familiar flavors that you’d expect from a Corojo dominant cigar are all there: pepper, leather, earth and a spicy punch. It is a popular wrapper leaf in the industry, and I think Nick did a great job using it in his cigars.
Fun fact: The Corojo varietal of tobacco has roots (hehehe) in Cuba, where it was originally grown in the Pinar del Rio region of the country until 1996/1997 due to issues with disease-ridden crops.
A lot of people describe the El Gueguense as a “pepper bomb”, which it is to an extent, but not so much in this larger ring gauge. The corona gorda size of this blend, in my opinion, is the one that has the biggest kick of pepper. The 56 ring gauge on the Toro Huaco certainly made a difference in that department, offering up more subtleties than power. This was a great cigar that I look forward to enjoying often. I think it’s well worth it to try all the sizes of this line to see the differences in each.