Dimensions/Shape: 6 by 52 ring gauge; Parejo
Wrapper/Capa: U.S. Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Binder/Capote: San Andrés, México
Filler/Tripa: Estelí and Jalapa, Nicaragua and Jamastrán Valley, Honduras
Tabacalera: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua, S.A. (Nicaragua)
MSRP: $11.50 single, $276.00 box of 24
Nick Melillo’s The Tabernacle is the latest super-premium release by his newly founded cigar company, Foundation Cigar Co. As with El Güegüense, featured in a previous review, The Tabernacle has been long anticipated by consumers and members of the cigar industry, due to its use of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. Melillo, “Chief of the Broadleafs,”has been praised for his work involving Drew Estate’s Liga Privada No. 9 and NicaRustica cigars, both of which have gained significant popularity and employ Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers. In addition, the Connecticut-born Melillo has expressed his strong passion for the tobacco varietal, rooted in his love for the Connecticut River Valley.
Owing to its extreme popularity, and even cult following, fans of Liga No. 9 have hoped Foundation Cigar would create a comparable, or even better, smoke. Luckily for all of us, the fans have not been disappointed. Melillo’s partnership with the legendary AJ Fernandez in Estelí, Nicaragua has resulted in a fantastic product comprised of not only the highly anticipated broadleaf maduro wrapper, but also with the “finest artisanal tobacco batches in Nicaragua” and a compelling backstory. The box and band of The Tabernacle features Haile Selassie, the last king of Ethiopia and the messiah of Rastafarianism. The brand itself is the namesake of the container housing the Ark of the Covenant, featured in the Old Testament of the Bible. According to some believers, the Ark of the Covenant has been under the protection of the Ethiopian monarchy for centuries, including, for a time, King Haile Selassie himself.
As described previously, the hype surrounding this cigar is rooted in its oily, toothy, and flavorful maduro wrapper, which lives up to all expectations. The Tabernacle’s prelight aroma offers cedar, leather, and a light pepper, while the pre-light draw is dominated by leather and a savory brine.
With the first light and draws, the cigar surprises you with light to medium intensity flavors, consisting of a light sweetness, milk chocolate, some cedar, and a light leather, with a more subdued brine remaining. Throughout the rest of the cigar, The Tabernacle provides a very pleasant, complex smoke, including noticeable flavor transitions. You’ll notice the ever present sweet and chocolate notes, but look out for the coming-and-going notes of liquorice, earth, and brine. From the first light through to the nub, the retrohale remains surprisingly smooth, particularly for a Nicaraguan cigar, and increases the cigar’s flavor and strength intensities slightly.
Overall, The Tabernacle in toro is a sweet-savory treat that, after its lighter beginning, climbs to medium-full in flavor and medium in strength, and ends with full flavor and strength smoke in its final 1 1/4 inch. The blend is an impressive sequel to El Güegüense, and ought to be sought after by tobacconists and smokers alike. As with El Güegüense, there is a variety of entertaining and informative pieces and interviews regarding The Tabernacle, featuring Nick Melillo and other reviewers, which I would recommend seeking out. In order purchase The Tabernacle and Melillo’s other cigar brands, use the store finder on Foundation Cigar Company’s website, linked below.