I recently received a holiday package of cigars from my friend and great BOTL, Francisco Almonte, the owner of Dominican Big Leaguer (DBL) Cigars. That package had some of his latest introductions in it and as you may have read I reviewed the DBL 35th Anniversary this past week. One of the other blends in the package were two enormous 8 x 60 vitolas which are named the MAFU. I have to tell you, I am not usually a fan of big ring gauge cigars and even less big long cigars, so I was hesitant to fire the MAFU up with the fear this may not be such a great experience. Well, as you will see, I was impressed!
Most of you out there may not have heard of the DBL MAFU, but I assure you word will be getting out. The MAFU was not a 2018 IPCPR release but rather a late year release that will be featured fully at the 2019 IPCPR. It is currently on the market in select states and I am already told this is the cigar of the moment in Texas, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
What or Who is MAFU?
The word MAFU had me thinking about its meaning. I did a little Googling and found some definitions like the Chinese English dictionary that translates mǎ fū into; groom, stable hand, horsekeeper, pimp, and procurer.
The Free Dictionary by FARLEX describes it as an acronym that stands for Mental toughness, Agression, Fanatical effort, Unity with regards to sports.
I finally reached out to Francisco and he explained it is has a dual meaning. The word MAFU is actually a anagram of the word Fuma. A Fuma is an unfinished cigar made of one type of tobacco which is used by the blender to determine the tobacco’s flavor and strength. But it is really the second meaning that is special and explained by Francisco:
There is this guy that lives near our factory in Tamboril, Santiago, DR. He is about 50 years old and some people say he is crazy. His name is Mafu, and he would come to the factory and offer to clean it in exchange for cigars to smoke. Everyone in the factory loves Mafu, as he keeps the factory clean and spotless. It is a tribute to him that we named this new blend the MAFU.
So there you have it, that’s the story.
I also asked Francisco why he chose to go with such a large cigar as the introduction to this new line. As we know, most factories would start with a toro or a robusto to make the blend, then scale up from that. But Francisco explained to me; “if you can get the flavor you want out of a large ring gauge cigar, just imagine what the smaller size will offer.” Of course that big cigar has to be spot on, not only in flavor but burn quality, or the consumer will be turned off.
With the introduction of the MAFU, DBL Cigars is also doing something new. The company has made the choice to introduce the blend to the market long before the IPCPR next year. The first is the 8 x 60 which is available now. That will be followed up with a toro version in February. Finally in time for the show he expects to have a MAFU lancero. He is doing this so that when retailers come to the booth, they will be able to sample cigars that have been properly aged and ready to smoke.
The DBL MAFU
The DBL MAFU is available in two blends; a Cameroon and a San Andres Maduro. Both blends use Corojo 99 and Pennsylvania Broadleaf as filler with a Havano Vuelta Abajo (HVA) binder. I am told that the 8 x 60 uses 3 leaves each, of the Corojo and Pennsylvania Broadleaf to make the cigar.
The DBL MAFU is a full production cigar that has an MSRP set very comfortably at $9.60/cigar. That is a lot of cigar for your dollar! Of course being a fully vertically integrated company that grows, cures, ferments and ages its own tobacco helps keep the price down.
The DBL MAFU comes packaged in 30-count boxes with 15 Cameroon and 15 Maduro in the box. The cigars are aged at least 4 months prior to shipping.
For this review I sampled the DBL Cigars MAFU Cameroon blend. I will be sampling the Maduro next year. Let’s start breaking it down and you can begin to understand why this is one of my highest rated cigars this year.
To start things off, this is a big cigar, 8 x 60 big! I actually feel a little intimidated as I look at the size. I am glad I had a big meal before sampling this. I have to say, besides the shear size of the MAFU, it is a gorgeous looking cigar with its oily, milk chocolate brown, wrapper that is silky to the touch. It has minimal veins and is expertly finished with a triple cap. The cigar is heavy in the hand and is packed from head to foot.
The DBL MAFU is adorned with 2 bands. The primary breaks with DBL tradition and does not use the prominent company logo, but rather the golden word “MAFU” on a black background bordered by red and gold stripes. The letters “MA” and “FU” are printed around the band above and below the bold “MAFU” word. There is also a red footer band that completes the presentation.
The MAFU has a sweet fermented leaf aroma along the barrel and baking spice notes off the foot. Scrumptious indeed. The aroma is a clear break from the many DBL cigars I have had that exude raisin and cinnamon spice on the pre-light.
As I do with most cigars, I used a traditional straight cut to open it up. I would not suggest a small punch on this but perhaps a V-Cut may be fine. Proceeding with the cold draw, I noticed the MAFU had an excellent draw, not just for a large cigar but for any size. The restriction was spot on and as I rolled it about I savored a distinctive butternut component that was very tasty. Puffing a little more, a light pepper graces the palate and then some vanilla notes.
I will say it again, this is quite unique for DBL Cigars, an absolute break from the norm. As I only have one of these to review, it was now time to get it lit and see where it goes. Of course based on my rating you already know where that is but I will break down the journey for you here.
Cigar Review Notes
- The first note to hit me after igniting is Anise (Licorice)
- A solid medium grey ash develops on a medium char line
- Sweetness joins the profile early
- Full volume of creamy smoke
- Just after an inch or so into the burn the sweetness evolves into vanilla and chocolate notes
- Caramelized fruit aromas waft from the foot filling my nostrils with an enticing scent
- This is a superbly smooth smoke so far
- Dry fruit notes enter after an inch and a half of pristine burn
- The first fall of the ash was after a long 2 plus inches
- A perfect burn cone is revealed – indicating a finely constructed cigar
- Nuances of coffee notes find their way into the profile blending well with the sweetness
- Burn continues to be spectacular along with the draw and smoke volume
- Decent oil growth on wrapper
- Smoke has blended well with a light spice sweetness that continues through a good part of the cigar with nuances of chocolate, vanilla, and coffee
- Aroma shifts to more of an earthy note midway
- Strength has slowly crept up to full
- Herbal notes enter near the final end and the early anise returns to make for a perfect finish
- Full Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 2 hours and 25 minutes
Overall, the DBL Cigars MAFU is certainly one of those big ring, long cigars, that will give you hours of pleasurable smoke and aromas. The cigar was all but flawless in construction and I highly recommend you trying this cigar. The flavor was well balanced throughout the pristine burn and the draw was perfect. The strength may be a bit overpowering for a newbie, but take it in stages and enjoy. Keeping with the transparency of our new rating system the only point we deducted was for the medium grey ash. We rate this a solid 98
Point Deductions: (-1) Medium Grey Ash
Bonus Points: (+1) Long Solid Ash (+1) Pristine Burn Line (+1) Buy a Box!