Origin : Nicaragua
Format : Rubusto
Size : 5.5 x 54
Wrapper : Ecuadorian Habano
Filler : Nicaraguan&Honduran
Binder : Nicaraguan
Price : $8.70
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Well, well, well, it’s been a big year for AJ Fernandez when you add up the accolades that Emilio Cigars and San Lotano garnered in 2011. The Oval, being probably the most anticipated release from AJ in his career, was received with grand applause from the cigar reviewers. Now if you read a lot of the articles from this website you will have noticed this cigar never made my list for Top Cigars of 2011. The first couple of samples intrigued me and I liked it a lot but it just didn’t float my boat enough to knock down a spot on my list. But the more and more I smoked of this stick I really got to liking it more and more. So this is my review of the last time I revisited this cigar.
Appearance : (3.75)
An unsurprising and simple band wraps this little gem with colors of black and gold. The Oval is simply what it is named,… oval in shape. The wrapper appears a little dry and leathery but thick and substantive. Aromas of sour shoe leather come to mind when whiffing the stick, and foot smells of simple pipe tobacco. There are several long veins running the cigar but they are very small and probably won’t cause a burn problem. When squeezed, the oval shape gives a bit.
The very thick wrapper was a little difficult to cut through with my guillotine cutter. The Oval has a nice tight draw with no noticeable problems. The foot lights up quick with a torch and large amounts of smoke can be pulled from the stick. Razor like burn with no slip-ups. The light grey ash drops off in 1 ½ to 2 inch chunks. Spectacular construction,… some of the best I’ve seen in awhile. The only drawback is its quick burn.
Woooooweeee!,… Flavor for days right from the start! Immediate notes of cognac, leather, and beef jerky. Body starts out full from the start and hits with some light pepperiness.
1st Third: After the first few puffs the flavor level dials down a little bit and the cognac flavor slightly drops off leaving me a little disappointed. Mocha flavors seem to replace the cognac flavors and the body is more full-minus.
2nd Third: No longer is the stick anywhere near full bodied but more a solid medium. The depth of flavor is very good and pleasing,… not overly complex but very delicious. The cognac flavor seems to weave in and out of every other puff. The smoke has a very balanced and sweet flavor. Some dusty cocoa flavors have seem to join the fray as well near the end.
(Cognac is the closest thing I can come up with what I am tasting. Another description may be the flavor that is imparted on scotch by high usage of sherry casks- a syrupy sweet flavor.)
3rd Third: Woodsy notes intermingle with the consistent meaty, chocolate, and syrupy sweet flavors now for the conclusion of this cigar. All throughout the flavors were balanced and vivid. A very nice smoke!
Value : (3.75)
These aren’t cheap by any means at around $9 for a robusto and $8 for the petit robusto. I recommend staying around the shorter vitolas, because I thought they were the best of the bunch. But for a limited production stick from AJ Fernandez, this one stands out above hundreds of sticks and is easily worth the money.
Overall Rating : (4.25)
Complex,… ummmm,… not really. Delicious,… yep! Padronesque in its ability to deliver laser-like precison of flavors while maintaining an excellent and flawless burn line. I really am partial to its syrupy-sweet-cognac-like flavors. It was a difficult decision to leave this off my Top Cigars of 2011 list. In retrospect it could have been in a three way tie with the Tatuaje Verite 2009 and Undercrown. Nevertheless, the cigar stands on its own as the finest from AJ so far in my honest opinion, along with the AF1 and AF2 from Emilio cigars. Should be a bright future for Senor Fernandez in years to come. Keep smoking my friends,…
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