Dimensions/Shape: 5 1/4 by 42 ring gauge; Parejo
Wrapper/Capa: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro (United States)
Binder/Capote: Estelí Habano (Nicaragua)
Filler/Tripa: Estelí and Jalapa (Nicaragua)
Tabacalera: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua, S.A. (Nicaragua)
MSRP: $4.80 single, $96 box of 20
The Charter Oak line of premium cigars was released along with Foundation Cigar’s super premium blend, the Tabernacle, in the summer of 2016 for the IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Whereas the Tabernacle is an addition to El Güegüense in Foundation Cigar’s super premium lineup, the Charter Oak line is intended to be a budget-friendly option for discerning smokers. Indeed, the line is highly affordable, with MSRPs for single cigars between $4 and $6; yet, unlike many budget options available on the market, Charter Oak exhibits high quality in both flavor and construction, exceeding much of its competition. The cigars are available in two Connecticut-seed wrappers: Shade-Grown and Broadleaf Maduro.
Nick Melillo, founder of Foundation Cigar Co., created and launched Charter Oak as a nod to his home state of Connecticut and to his Broadleaf-loving grandfather. As Melillo frequently explains, Connecticut has a rich history cultivating dark tobacco (of which cigars are made), a history even rivaling that of Cuba. Today, Connecticut is one of three states in the U.S. producing dark tobacco, renowned for its Shade and Broadleaf varietals employed as wrapper and binder leaves. With another nod to Connecticut, the line of cigars is named after Connecticut’s revered “Charter Oak”: a large oak tree that symbolized colonial resistance to Great Britain in the 18th century.
All cigars in the Charter Oak brand feature a closed foot and a single cap, imparting an intriguing rustic and unrefined feel to the cigar. The Broadleaf Maduro wrapper compliments this aesthetic with its rich color and oils, while giving off notes of barnyard, cedar, hickory, and hay. Notes of cinnamon and leather come through with ease on the prelight draw. The first light yields similar flavors through the cigar’s tremendous smoke output: baking spices, cayenne, and sweet notes, medium to full bodied. The cigar gets progressively sweeter, with light notes of cedar slowly showing through. Once settled in, the aforementioned notes are accompanied by an increasingly long and defined finish: fruity-sweetness, walnut, all with depth.
Into the second half of the cigar, the enticing sweetness from the wrapper extends into the draw flavors while lingering in the finish. Cedar becomes even more prominent, while notes of leather enter the stage, and a pepper-spice joins the walnut notes on the finish. Since the end of the first third, the strength of the cigar has consistently increased, reaching medium-full by the end of the second third. Body has remained the same, at a very pleasant medium-full. In the final third, the walnut on the finish is slowly phased out by a powdered cacao. This petit corona will provide around 50 minutes of smoking time.
For many lovers of fine tobacco, Nick Melillo and Foundation Cigar have succeeded in bringing a high quality and rich cigar to market at an affordable price. Amazingly, the Charter Oak Maduro is able to hold its own when compared to cigars twice to three times its price. If any of you are looking for an everyday, quality smoke, it would be difficult to beat Charter Oak Maduro.
Sources: Cigar Federation YouTube “IPCPR 2016 Foundation Cigar”; Foundation Cigar Co.; Halfwheel “Foundation Pays Tribute to Connecticut with Charter Oak”