I have always said, what this country needs is a good $5.00 premium cigar. While the industry has largely been marketing $8.00 to $12.00 cigars in recent years, partly due, to the arbitrary $10.00 price point the FDA and the increase demand for tobacco. The FDA price point is now moot since they did not select the Option 2 exception for premium cigars. It makes one believe, that higher priced, quality cigars, will be the norm as demand increases.
Enter Nicholas Melillo, from the Foundation Cigar Company, who not only is one of the best blenders in the industry, but also proves that an affordable, premium cigar, can be attained. At this years IPCPR Nick unveiled a number of new blends and one of those was the Charter Oak cigar, a tribute to his home state of Connecticut. Not only is this cigar one of value, but it also represents a rich Connecticut history.
The name Charter Oak is based on a famous Oak tree that stood in Hartford, Connecticut for over 600 years. Sadly, it was destroyed by a wicked storm in 1856. It is believed the tree was planted by a local Indian tribe for the sake of peace when they settled the area. In fact, in her book, Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them, Harriet L. Keeler noted:
It has been the guide of our ancestors for centuries as to the time of planting our corn; when the leaves are the size of a mouse’s ears, then is the time to put the seed into the ground
It was called the Charter Oak because legend has it that a cavity within the tree was used in late 1687 as a hiding place for the Connecticut Charter of 1662. In fact, the Connecticut State Senate, Presidential chair, was carved out of its trunk. You can read more about the tree itself here.
Now lets talk about the cigar.
The Charter Oak cigar is available in two blends, one is the Connecticut shade and the other Connecticut broadleaf. Both blends have the same Estelí and Jalapa filler. The binder on the Shade is Sumatran while the Broadleaf uses Nicaraguan habano.
Each blend of the Charter Oak is available in 5 vitolas:
- Rothschild – 4.25 x 50
- Petit Corona – 5.25 x 52
- Lonsdale – 6.25 x 46
- Toro – 6 x 52
- Grande – 6 x 60
The price point on these range from $4.00 to $6.00. Your heard me right, that is not a typo!
For this review, I had the pleasure of sampling the Connecticut Shade Toro
Cigar Review Notes
- Closed foot
- Silky light tan wrapper
- Well capped
- Not much aroma off the foot or barrel
- Well capped
- Smooth start with no big bite or bitterness
- Nut and fruit greet the palate
- Solid medium grey ash
- Creamy, medium body of smoke
- Vanilla almost cream soda aroma
- Nutmeg filters in
- Mild citrus rounds out the profile
- Fruity, floral blossom, aroma
- Burn is impeccable
- Ash fell after inch and half
- Perfectly centered burn cone
- Sweetness builds into second third
- Connecticut bitterness shows up mid second third
- Solid medium strength
- Sweetness and bitterness compete through the remainder
Overall, the Foundation Cigars, Charter Oak, Connecticut shade variety, was a flawless smoke from start to finish. The flavor and burn was far more than I would have expected for a cigar in its price range. I think I speak for many cigar consumers out there when I say, we need more great $5.00 to $6.00 cigars. And to the FDA – No! $10.00 does not define the start of the premium cigar class! Great job Nicholas!
~ Boston Jimmie