Man O' War is carefully blended and hand-crafted by the iconic Abdel “AJ” Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua. His list of clients includes Ernie Padilla, Rocky Patel, Kaizad Hansotia, and others. Born in Cuba, AJ began working with tobacco at a very young age under the watchful eye of cigar legend Alejandro Robaina, considered the Godfather of Cuban cigars. Over 40 years ago, in the country's famed Pinar del Rio region, Don Alejandro cultivated what is still considered Cuba's finest wrapper leaf. After decades spent absorbing the master's knowledge, AJ moved to Nicaragua and began building what is now considered one of the finest boutique makers in the Central American country. Of all the cigars expertly made in his factory – ITC 10th Anniversary and Rocky Patel's Fusion, among them – AJ considers the Man O' War his best creation. Visually, it's stunning. The dark, sultry Habano Ecuadorian wrapper, covered with natural oils, is thick and smooth. But don't let the beautiful wrapper mislead—it's a velvet glove. Underneath it is a robust medium-full recipe of aged Cuban-seed Nicaraguan long-fillers which hit like a hammer, unleashing a bold potpourri of flavor. The opening is robust, with heavy spice and wood undertones. Then a chewy, velvety-smooth core of oak and earth with a sweet array of spicy notes develops. Throughout the burn, there are a variety of understated nuances that come and go, including coffee, cocoa bean, and a touch of vanilla. To say this cigar is complex is an understatement. Try it with a chocolate stout or a vintage port like Fonseca Guimaraens Vintage Port.
The Nicaraguan cigar industry originated when Cuban cigar makers escaped the revolution and re-established their livelihood in Nicaragua with Cuban-seed tobacco. Blessed with dark, rich soil, their new home was ideal for tobacco cultivation and Nicaragua quickly became known for cigars that rivaled Cuban quality. Unfortunately, revolution and war came to Nicaragua in the 1980s and devastated the industry, but it’s rebounded dramatically and is once again producing tobacco considered by many to be the finest in the world.
The Esteli Valley is in many ways the heart of Nicaraguan production and is known for its very powerful and spicy tobacco. The Jalapa Valley produces arguably the finest tobacco in the country: somewhat sweeter and less intense than Esteli, but extremely complex. The tobacco of the Condega Valley is often described as a blend of the other two regions.
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