At the 2016 IPCPR in Las Vegas, there was plenty of chatter going around about the new hybrid cigar from AJ Fernandez. Known as the Bellas Artes (Fine Arts), the cigar is unique in that it uses a special hybrid leaf that A.J. has cultivated just for this cigar. The seed for this wrapper is cross between three popular seeds; Connecticut 8212, Corojo 99 and Havana 2000. A.J. has named the resulting leaf the “rojito’. The result of blending agricultural science with the art and craftsmanship of cigar making has resulted in one of the company’s most acclaimed creations.
It was nearly impossible to get time at the AJ Fernandez booth at the show last year so I did not pick up a Bellas Artes until I made a trip to the Michigan late last year and stopped into Churchill’s Cigar Lounge in Birmingham, MI. I saw they had this treasure and made it my cigar for the evening as I sat back and enjoyed a rich Cabernet Sauvignon. I did not have my camera with me so I just took a few notes and got into conversation with some locals. The cigar left a lasting impression but I left without picking another one up – stupid me!
So here we are months later, and I was once again graced with this fine artful creation at the Smoke Inn Great Smoke 2017. Well, it was time to enjoy the Bellas Artes once again and this time I have my camera. Settling down in quiet solitude in the Stogie Press lounge, I turned on some classic vinyl albums and took the Bellas Artes for a spin.
To start of with, the Bellas Artes is a stunningly beautiful work of art. The wrapper is silky smooth, medium brown in color with a red hue to it. Lightly boxed pressed, the Bellas Artes is packed tight, solid to the touch, and well capped.
According to the AJ Fernandez website, the Bellas Artes is a carefully selected, multi country blend of leaf:
- Wrapper – AJF Hybrid Rojita
- Binder -Quilalí
- Filler – Nicaragua, Honduras, Brazil
For those that don’t know, Quilalí is a municipality in the Nueva Segovia Department of Nicaragua about a 3 hour drive from Esteli nestled in valley on the banks of the Rio Jícaro.
The Bellas Artes is available in 4 vitolas:
- Robusto – 5 x 52 (MSRP $8.80)
- Short Churchill – 6 x 48 (MSRP $8.30)
- Toro – 6 x 54 (MSRP $9.50)
- Gordo – 6.5 x 58 (MSRP $10.50)
They come packaged in high gloss red, 20-count boxes and are adorned with 2 bands. The primary band is a beautiful piece of art, identifying it as the Bellas Artes. The secondary, is a bright gold and red band, with the words AJ Fernandez emblazoned on it.
For this review I sampled the Bellas Artes Short Churchill and Toro
Cigar Review Notes
- Medium brown. silky smooth wrapper
- Well capped
- Firm to the touch
- Fermented tobacco aroma along the barrel
- Sweet natural tobacco aroma off the foot
- Earthy and red pepper cold draw with minimum restriction
- Big dose of pepper right off the flame
- Pepper tones down and opens up to a creamy and lightly spiced buttery smoke
- Medium grey ash rests on a thick char line
- Espresso enters after the first third
- A long caramelized sugar finish with a touch of cedar
- Sweet aroma
- Butter dances back in just before the secondary band along with an orange rind note
- Peppermint enters in the second third before morphing into a cinnamon spice
- Spicy cream builds at the end
- Medium in Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 40 minutes
Overall, the Bellas Artes by AJ Fernandez was a most delectable cigar proving what modern science, farming and craftsmanship can produce. The flavors offered the palate plenty to savor from the foot to the nub and the burn was trouble free carrying a well-formed ash. The Bellas Artes is certainly worthy of at least a box split between friends. Although the first time I smoked the Bellas Artes, I paired it with a red wine, I would now say it would pair better with a highland malt scotch.