- Vitola: Robusto
- 5.5” x 50 ring gauge
- Purchased at Burns Tobacconist
Nick Melillo made quite a name for himself as “Nick-R-agua” for a decade or so that he worked at Drew Estate—blending, learning, and falling in love with the country. When he left DE, we all knew it wouldn’t be the last we had seen of him in the cigar business, so it was not a big surprise a couple years later when he founded Foundation Cigars. Their initial release—El Gueguense—showed his love of Nicaragua by using nothing but that country’s leaf to honor an ancient folk tale about “The Wise Man.” Two years later, he’s back with a Maduro version.
While the original blend was called “El Gueguense” and subtitled “The Wise Man,” the Maduro is named “The Wise Man” and subtitled “El Gueguense”…because we wouldn’t want it to get confusing. As mentioned before, the original blend is all Nicaraguan; the Wise Man Maduro (as I’ll call it from now on) is mostly Nicaragua. It uses fillers from Condega, Esteli, and Jalapa; a Nicaraguan Corojo 99 Jalapa binder; and a Mexican San Andres Maduro wrapper. Says Melillo:
“I was looking to create a line extension with a whole different level of complexity and the San Andrès wrapper brings just that. The blend encompasses bold flavors of black pepper, dark roast espresso and cacao. Medium plus in body and strength and rounded out with a nutty finish.”
We recently got The Wise Man Maduro in at Burns, but only in fairly limited quantities. I was able to snag a couple Robustos before everything sold out (for now). I smoked one before this review sample.
The basic design for The Wise Man is very similar to that of Gueguense…whereas the earlier release had a blue background on the band, the Maduro has a dark red background. Easy to distinguish between the two at a glance, although the type is small enough that it’s very hard to read for most people. The wrapper leaf was a dark, dark chocolate brown with some even darker mottling in places. It was smooth and oily under my fingertips and the cigar had a nicely-rounded box press.
Giving the wrapper a sniff, I could tell the Mexican origins immediately as I got a strong earth and leather combination. From the foot, the aroma was a rich mix of earth, cocoa powder and coffee notes.
I cut the head and got a great prelight draw that had a nice mix of earthiness, black cherry, cocoa powder and coffee.
The Wise Man Maduro fired up with a strong earthy quality, the bitterness of strong, black coffee and a balancing sweetness of dark chocolate. The finish and the retrohale both featured red pepper in varying degrees; it was definitely strongest on the nose. The coffee notes picked up as I made my way through the first third, so by the end of that third the profile was weighted more toward the bitter notes.
As I started the second third, I noticed the tarry liquid coming out of the cut head of the stogie…and I noticed that the draw was getting a little tight. I recut without incident and it started flowing freely again. The second third saw a pickup in the flavors of dark fruit and semi-sweet chocolate and the pepper mellowed out. Body in the cigar had started off in the medium-to-full range and was all the way in the “full” zone by now.
The last third had a great espresso note bolstered by more black cherry and dark chocolate, all riding on an earthy base and a slight peppery finish.
I had a very straight burn line and solid ash. The only problem to speak of was the slightly tight draw that caused me to have to recut the cigar.
The price tag is slightly high, but I think it’s worth it.
If you are a fan of the Padron 1964 Anniversary Maduro, I think you will enjoy the Wise Man Maduro. It has a similar overall flavor profile, though it might be slightly more complex with more sweet notes than the Padron. Since the price tag is lower than a similar-sized Padron, I would call this exceptional value, as well. Overall this was a very good cigar that was marred only by a slightly tight draw.