We gave the original Fernandez y Quiroga (FQ) Cigars Phenom an Honorable Mention in the Stogie Press top 25 of 2014. Now Mathew Hunt and FQ has expanded the Phenom line to include the “Phenom 1”. This time they go with an Ecuador grown Connecticut wrapper and combine aged filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
The Fernandez y Quiroga website describes the Phenom 1 as:
The Phenom No. 1 is to be enjoyed by novices and aficionados alike. The No. 1 combines aged filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, a Nicaraguan binder…Its mellow body provides a balanced smoke of subtle spice paired with a creamy nuttiness that leaves the palate like silk.
The Phenom line comes in three timeless shapes:
- Robusto (5×50)
- Toro (6×50)
- Churchill (7×48)
I get to travel all over the world in my business and I always make sure I have stogies with me just in case I can’t find a decent cigar shop. This time I was visiting Nagoya Japan and though I have lived there in the past and know the cigar shops, I like to bring some of my own as one can only smoke so many Cubans. It was my last day in town and my flight was scheduled for 4:30 PM so what better way to enjoy my last few hours than to walk around my favorite Japanese city.
I brought the Phenom 1 Churchill with me, it has traveled the world, and was recently in Sweden but I never got around to smoking it so I saved it for just this moment. As I leave my hotel I decide to stroll over to my favorite westernized bar in Nagoya – Shooters Sports Bar and Grill. It is about a 15 minute walk and take out the Phenom 1 to enjoy the walk. The Phenom 1, is finished with a triple cap that is easily sliced off with a double blade cutter. There is a fresh tea leaf, pre-light aroma along the barrel and foot and the dry draw is offering up tea and a bit of sweet hay.
There are two bands on the Phenom 1. The primary band is the FQ cigars logo in gold on black background. The secondary band identifies the cigar as the Phenom 1. If you remove the secondary band, you will see Matthew’s mantra printed on the back “Class never goes out of style” And if you ever met Matthew Hunt you know he is a one classy gentleman.
Time to fire it up. The draw is quite nice, breathing with ease. The initial few puffs are peppery on the throat and nose. Even though the Phenom 1 traveled with me to Sweden and now Japan and got a bit beat up in travel, it is burning like the best that Matt Hunt and FQ Cigars make. I had no doubt having had the inaugural Phenom last year.
I finally arrive at Shooters Sports Bar, and I am looking forward to a little air conditioning as I am sweating bullets from the short stroll through the city streets.
It is just before noon as I sit in my favorite watering hole in Nagoya and order up a Rogue Mocha Porter to kill off the last few hours before I head to the airport. The English school (yea they run one of the best English schools in the city in a back room of the pub) is in session. I sit in my normal seat near the end of the bar in quite solitude today. Just me and the bartender who hands me a cool oshibori (a cool damp towel) and it feels good on my brow and neck after working up a sweat. The Japanese are known for their always friendly service.
As I sip some of the dark Porter and puff away in my solitude. The Phenom 1 burn is decent, almost pin point with a developing medium gray toothy ash. The pepper has diminished after an inch of burn and gives way to a long finishing creamy coffee flavor. The smoke production is medium with a nutty aroma to it. There is also a citrus component present that tingles the tongue. The Mocha Porter easily compliment the Phenom 1. I am sure a Cuban coffee would also go well but not today as I blend the morning into the journey from the night before and there is no way I would find a Cuban coffee in Shooters.
The citrus has morphed into a fruit flavor at the 2 inch mark and the ash is still hanging in there with a dark Cubanesque grey color. The locals are always curious about my hamaki (rolled leaf) smoking, especially when it carries a long ash. But no sooner do I write this and the ash fell as if on cue.
Well into the second third the smoke is smooth as silk with no bite or burn to it. There is a tangy citrus flavor coming through with the still ever-present nut aroma as the smoke production has increased.The clock is telling me I will have to get on the road soon to head to the airport for 13 hours in a tin can. Another Rogue will do the trick as my parting shot to my beloved adoptive city here in Japan.
As it moves into the second half the Phenom 1 the early pepper emerges again. There is a slight tingle to the nasal from the pepper, nothing over powering. It is actually delightful. Things mellow out approaching the primary band as the flavors have blended nicely. The nut remains and is mixed with some dried currant fruit with a delightful nasal burn.
As it moves into the final third, the Phenom 1 returns to the early coffee flavor with a hint of citrus in the background and delightful touch of sweetness. I smoked the Toro vitola of the Phenom 1 and the same flavor notes were present. Great job Matthew.
Overall the FQ Phenom No. 1 is wonderful light smoke that any new or experienced smoker would enjoy. It has an impeccable construction with a demonstrated long and tight ash. The flavors were well-balanced and the smoke was smooth all the way to the nub. Even though the Mocha Porter paired well I would also suggest pairing with a sweet Cafe Cubano or Cafe Leche in the morning or some aged rum in the evening.
I would like to thank Matthew Hunt for the sample and look forward to smoke more of his creations.