One of the attractions of premium cigars is the science and patience behind the growing, fermenting and blending tobacco. Exemplifying this patience and attention to detail is third-generation Cuban grower and cigar manufacturer AJ Fernandez. While many rely on others to provide them with resources (leafs and factories), Fernandez has not only made a name for himself in the industry for creating many popular cigars but for his knowledge of farming and overseeing every aspect of his production.
Taking approximately 5 years to develop the special tobaccos for his new cigar, Fernandez has been successfully able to create a hybrid wrapper leaf from three different wrapper varietals to create the Bellas Artes, which will be making its national debut at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) annual trade show this week in Las Vegas. As the new blend is almost too complicated to wrap (see what I did there) one’s mind around, the following graphic shows just how unique these leafs are.
Oftentimes when you see a cigar in an ad it rarely looks the same in person. But like the food you get at Waffle House, the Bellas Artes looks exactly as it does on the menu. From first inspection, the Bellas Artes is impressively attractive, no airbrushing needed. I had the privilege of sampling the semi box-pressed Extra Robusto (5 1/2 x 52) and the first thing I noticed was just how smooth and silky the wrapper was. Light and peanut colored, veins were noticeable but could not be felt.
Guillotine cut, single-flamed torch, action! The first draw, with little resistance, was creamy with some sugar notes, then boom! A sharp spice hit me on the retrohale. The flavor profile was so complex throughout the first third that every other draw gave off new, distinct notes of wood, flowers, cream and pepper. From a performance standpoint, I occasionally had to touch up the burn but it never became burdensome…and the Bellas Artes remained cool and comfortable in my hand. .
The second third was a major transition from the spicy beginnings, and the cream began to be more prominent. Burning slow and steady, the thick white ash held strong, but tapped off nicely in one single motion. Notes of leather and toast dominated through the midway point and bursts of sugar kept the Bellas Artes interesting and smooth.
Not wanting me to get complacent, the Bellas Artes switched up on me again as the thin burn line inched closer to the double band of the cigar. The spice in the nose returned but not as forceful as it was when I began. The unique combo of flavors became that of a mint which settled on my tongue and finished with roasted coffee notes as I ran out of cigar.
Good performance, surprising/complex transitions and aesthetically good looking, I believe that the medium-full Bellas Artes is for the consumer that enjoys a refined and intricate cigar. Available in four semi box-pressed vitolas, the Bellas Artes will be a regular production and it hits retailer’s shelves in late July, early August immediately following the trade show.