Abdel Fernandez has been hailed as a “rising star” in the cigar world, and judging by the number of established cigar makers who now trust him with their blends, it is safe to assume that his star is still on the upswing. Among a few of his partners are Rocky Patel (RP Signature, Triple Fusion, ITC 10th Anniversary), Ernesto Padilla (Padilla Habano) and Oliva (Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet.) If you pick up generally unrecognized brands from CI, there’s a good chance that you’ve smoked one of his cigars without knowing it — La Herencia Cubana, La Cuna, Man O’War, and the like. But name recognition is important for obvious reasons, so it’s no surprise that we are now seeing the name A. Fernandez on a cigar band.
Fernandez is based in Esteli, Nicaragua, and grows most of his own tobacco on farms near Esteli, Condega, and the Jalapa Valley. He is relatively new to Nicaragua, having arrived from Cuba only five years ago. Virtually everything ever written about Abdel mentions that he received an education in tobacco from the iconic Alejandro Robaina, so let me join the chorus and reiterate that fact once again.
The Fernandez Maduro is a mean looking stick. Maduro wrapper in its natural, unadulterated form is a thick, rustic leaf, so there’s not much to praise here in the way of aesthetics. The equally utilitarian cap is roughly applied, but shears well. The roll is solid. But of course the true test of a lancero with its narrow ring gauge is the draw, and the ones I have sampled have all been perfect in that regard.
The wrapper’s prelight scent is rich and earthy, straight from the barnyard, indicating fine fermentation. Lighting a lancero is easy, and this one fires up without a hitch. The burn wavers a little bit, as maduro leaf tends to do, but it corrects itself eventually. The ash tends to flake during this correction, but otherwise it’s solid and holds fairly well.
The aroma from this maduro wrapper takes center stage immediately and doesn’t make an exit until the band is peeled and the butt laid to rest. The wrapper on a lancero is bound to operate in this fashion due to the proportions of the stick, but make it a sweet and rich smelling maduro leaf and it’s guaranteed to be the star of the show. Right up front are the typical flavors of chocolate and char. An inch in and it gets a little spicier. Like a lot of lanceros this one gets a little hot if rushed, but I found that my unfortunate tendency to draw too often was greatly reduced by the prodigious amount of smoke this stick produces.
After the first third the cigar never really transitions to new flavors. There are some lighter woody notes along the way, but the basic theme of chocolate and char continues to the end. The flavors intensify in the last section, but don’t change too much. The finish lengthens and a mild aftertaste of pepper concludes the cigar.
This cigar reminds me a lot of the Padron standard series, in terms of both appearance and taste. It’s not complex, but it’s satisfying: a tasty, straight forward, no-nonsense maduro. The A. Fernandez Signature maduro is a little smoother and doesn’t pack the same punch as a Padron, but for a couple dollars less I think it’s comparable.
I got lucky and picked up these Fernandez lanceros for less than 2 dollars each, but the MSRP is still only 50 USD for a bundle of 20. I believe these are a Cigars International exclusive, and at the moment they appear to be sold out in this size, but hopefully we’ll see them back on the board soon. The bottom line is that this is a quality bargain smoke.
Final Score: 85