It’s Stog o’Clock, and we’ve got a special cigar on hand! I take another dive into the AJ Fernandez world with the Ave Maria Reconquista. This 7-inch torpedo has a 54-ring gauge and comes packed in its own cedar coffin. The wrapper is a luscious Habano Oscuro wrapper grown in Brazil which cloaks Cuban-seed Nicaraguan leaves from various regions. The construction is spot on with a smooth roll and firm pack. The wrapper gives off a faint, sweet barnyard aroma, and a raisin and chocolate smell emits from the foot.
The pre-light draw gives me a bitter raisin flavor with just the right amount of resistance. Once lit, the cigar produces a woody flavor with some black pepper zing and leather among some other flavors I can’t quite pick out.
The first third clocks me at half an hour. The experience is complex and delicious so far. The draw gives me a dark chocolate and refined, creamy espresso flavor. On the finish, there is a sweet milk chocolate accompanied by spice. The retro-hale gives me a brilliant, earthy toast note. I can taste the aged tobacco in the smoke. Performance has been solid. The cigar is full bodied and full strength. Unfortunately, as the first third burns through, the cigar develops an enormous crack down half the length of the wrapper. I cautiously continue, refusing to put down this flavor bomb.
After the second third, my watch puts me at just over an hour. The construction is a letdown as the cigar is exploding at this point. This doesn’t stop me because the flavor is amazing. The draw still gives me espresso, but I gladly welcome a salted caramel coating a chocolate note. On the finish, a zesty orange with sweetness and saltiness lasts for a while. Through the nose, I pick up a smoky flavor with earth and toast. Strength and body remain the same, and the smoke is thick and chewy.
The final third gets me all the way to the one hour and forty-five minute mark. After I get past the source of the crack in the wrapper, I experience no further exploding. The draw retains the espresso and chocolate flavors, but I notice the salted caramel flavor die down a bit. A black licorice alongside a sweet vanilla is a nice surprise addition to the draw. Through the nose, toast is prevalent, but spice ramps up. The finish is very long with notes of spice and rich earth. I continue to pick out aged tobacco flavor. I see no changes in strength or body as the cigar ends at the full mark.
The Reconquista is bold yet smooth. It’s a knock out of the park. The complexity is almost insane on this stick, and the flavors compliment each other perfectly. At around $20 a pop, this cigar is certainly not cheap, but I think it’s worth every penny. There are many deals to be had on this thing if you look in the right places. It contends with many other high-dollar sticks and is a completely satisfying experience. I highly recommend it. AJ Fernandez continues to impress me.
Until next time, smoke on!