The name A.J. Fernandez has been popping a lot in the cigar world. Not just because he has his own fields, factory, brand – but he has also been collaborating with many in the industry to produce blends. This past year was a lot like the year before and the year before that. One of those collaborations was with General Cigar Co. where he has been brought back for the 3rd year in a row to work with them on a project.
At the IPCPR, the General Cigar Co. booth was showcasing a new blend from their Hoyo de Monterrey brand called the Hoyo La Amistad Black. This is the 3rd Hoyo La Amistad blend in as many years in which the company has enlisted the support of A.J, Fernandez. The previous ones were the Hoyo La Amistad Gold and Hoyo La Amistad Silver.
This time around, they went dark, real dark. The Hoyo La Amistad Black has a blend described as:
- Wrapper – Ecuadoran Sumatra Oscuro
- Binder – Mexican San Andrean
- Filler – Nicaraguan Habano
This dark beauty is available in 3 vitolas and comes packaged in 20-count boxes, except for the Rothschild which come in a 25-count box:
- Rothschild (4.5 x 50) MSRP $7.29
- Toro (6.5 by 52) MSRP $8.09
- Gigante – Box Pressed (6 x 60) MSRP $8.49
Like the Gold and Silver, the Hoyo La Amistad Black is manufactured at Tabacalera Fernandez in Estelí, Nicaragua. For this review I sampled a few of the Hoyo La Amistad Black Rothschilds that I received at the 2018 IPCPR.
The Hoyo La Amistad Black is just as its name implies, a very dark brown, to black cigar. It has a mild grit to the wrapper and light oily sheen. The are minimal veins and the cigar is solidly packed. A simple cap finishes the presentation.
The cigar is branded with two bands. The primary is the new standard band for the Hoyo brand using a black, silver, and red motif. The word “HOYO” is spelled out in blocks around the inside of a black circle bordered by red and silver. The secondary band is placed right below and gives credit to the master “A.J. Fernandez” spelled out in bright silver on a red background. The bands really pop on the dark cigar background.
A little History Lesson
If you look up La Amistad you will find the true story which was made into a Steven Spielberg movie of the same name. In that article it starts;
“La Amistad is the name of a slave ship traveling from Cuba to the United States in 1839. It is carrying African slaves as its cargo. As the ship is crossing from Cuba to the United States, Cinqué, a leader of the Africans, leads a mutiny and takes over the ship. The mutineers spare the lives of two Spanish navigators to help them sail the ship back to Africa. Instead, the navigators misdirect the Africans and sail north to the east coast of the United States, where the ship is stopped by the American Navy, and the living Africans imprisoned as runaway slaves.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amistad_(film)
Back to the review
I ran the La Amistad Black across the nose and though there was little aroma along the barrel, the foot exuded fruity and spice notes.
Once I sliced the cap and gave it a few cold puffs, I noted a decent restriction and pleasant notes of cinnamon spice, sweetness, and earth.
With the preliminary evaluation out of the way, I settled back in the Stogie Press lounge in quiet solitude to take a little journey with La Amistad and see where it goes. I used my triple flame torch to warm the foot and take in the initial puffs of pepper laden smoke with a slight charred wood back note.
Cigar Review Notes
- Pepper and charred wood off first light
- Sweetness breaks in to tone down the pepper
- Solid white ash wavy and thin char line
- Pasty notes start to coat the palate
- Cinnamon begins to evolve
- As the ash falls, an off-centered burn cone appears that also displays a small tunnel hole at the top
- Fruity-floral aroma wafts off the foot
- Full volume of smoke
- Sweetness and woody notes re-emerge in the second third
- Burn line eventually corrects
- Butter enters blending well with the cinnamon spice notes midway
- Cedar notes follow
- The cigar gets sour as it enters the final third
- Medium Strength
- Total Smoking Time was just over 1 hour
Overall, the Hoyo La Amistad Black was a cigar I feel did not live up to my expectations. There were flavors and aromas, that at times, were pleasant but it also produced a pasty note on the palate and it went sour in the final third. Construction wise, the first half had a wavy and off center burn that did eventually correct but took half the short distance to do so. There was also a small tunnel hole present once the ash fell the first time. I rate this an 87. I may look to pick up the toro vitola to see how it performs.
Point Deductions: (-1) Wavy Burn; (-1) Off-Centered Burn Cone; (-2) Small Tunnel Hole (-1) Sour; (-2) Pasty; (-2) Should be lower in price