Nicholas Melillo of Drew Estate fame and fortune has cut the umbilical cord and set off on his own to present to us the Foundation El Güegüense. Being a fan of many of Nick’s blends (T52, Number 9, and UF-13 to name a few), I, like all of Drew Estate’s ravenous devotees and zealots, am quite titillated by this release.
Not only do I get to experience another of Nick’s blends, but I also get to divorce my money from the Swisher behemoth. Not that I’m against blunts, but I’m for small business. Tiny business, even. I’m a big supporter of the Keebler elves. Small business is what makes America, and in this case Central America, great.
The El Güegüense bears the name of a UNESCO masterpiece play that I’m not going to even pretend to have heard of or read, but Wikipedia tells me it means “The Wise Man.” And as a wise man, I know myself to be a fool when it comes to Nicaraguan culture (outside of the influx of Westerners setting up cigar factories there and the US government’s support of the Contras).
So, in my ignorance, let’s move on to the smoking…
Foundation El Güegüense Cigar Review
Size: 6 1/2″ x 52 ring gauge
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Creole Corojo 99 (Finca Putalito–Jalapa)
Binder: Nicaraguan Corojo 99 (San Jose–Jalapa)
Filler: Nicaraguan Criollo and Corojo (Esteli and Jalapa)
Spice is nice. This blend embodies the “Creole” name in that it’s a meeting of two of types of tobacco: Corojo and Criollo of varying pedigrees. Both strains originated in Cuba, but by this point have taken on characteristics of their homeland. I’m expecting some spice, some pepper, and some rich complexity common in Nicaraguan blends.
Appearance: The wrapper is a rich, flat matte brown with tiny veins and no visible imperfections.
Aroma: Quite aromatic, with notes of kitchen spice and coffee.
Pairing, Cutting, and Lighting
Drink Pairing: Coca-cola (heh. eheheh.)
Lighter: Xikar single-flame butane
Cutter: Xikar guillotine
Cutting and Cold Draw
I got too excited after cutting the head and skipped the cold draw. The cold draw is boring anyway. Who came up with the cold draw? I know it’s to test the draw, yada yada yada, but it’s a waste of time. Let’s get to burning the El Güegüense already.
The First Third
The first puff is black pepper. Off to a good start. The aroma reminds me of when I dropped my spice rack in a vain attempt to clean the kitchen. Cleaning is never a good idea, and for future reference, mopping up a linoleum floor of paprika and cumin and nutmeg is not as easy as Dune makes it look. He who controls the spice wishes he had a shop-vac.
Some woodsy, cedar notes and light caramel round out the first third-ish of the El Güegüense (I never keep track of where I am–I just sorta keep a rolling list of notes and gauge where I am based on how much space I need to fill in each part of the review. Whoops–tricks of the trade).
The Second Third
Enough smoke to start a beef jerky business. I wonder what tobacco-smoked meat would taste like? Probably like God. I imagine God tastes like salty tobacco. “If I cannot smoke in heaven, then I shall not go.” “Well, Mark. You can’t smoke, but you can sniff me, and that’s just as good.”
Burn is getting a tad wonky at this point, but I’ve never quite understand “even burn” as a marker of a good cigar, rather as a marker of a uniform wrapper, and a uniform wrapper does not necessarily mean a good wrapper. All of this bullshit circle-jerking has lead to industry standards in reviews that just don’t translate to the practicality of a natural product.
The El Güegüense tastes like a salt-less Ritz cracker at this point, with maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. A note that I’m happy to report is that of buttered toast with that cinnamon that comes in the little shaker with creepy children on the side–you guys know what I’m talking about. Childhood nostalgia. Delicious.
The Final Third
Launching into a full-fledged kitchen spice attack in the last third. The black pepper notes never take dominance, and I’m left feeling like I’m smoking quite a well-balanced cigar here. Not overwhelmingly strong and no domineering flavor. Quite nice.
You know the type of cigar that you want to just suck and suck like a guy in an alley has just handed you the $20 you need to pay back that weird homeless guy who you play dice with? You know, when you just want to keep huffing and puffing like you’re climbing Everest with an oxygen tank and need to reach the top before you Carradine yourself (that was in poor taste–I happen to like Mr. Carradine)? Let’s see how many vague similes I can cram into one paragraph… like when the medical examiner is performing your autopsy and determines that you were a coal miner? Yeah, the El Güegüense is that type of cigar.
The Last Inch
Burn is getting a bit hot, but I shall persevere because this cigar is delicious. I want to take a bite.
Final Impressions and Rating
I cannot find one bad thing to say about the El Güegüense. It is a complex, medium bodied cigar that burns well, produces interesting notes, and keeps you wanting more and more. I want more. Now. Can I open a new credit card? Who wants to get me an Amex black card? C’mon, I’ll only use it once in a while and/or every day!
Rating (Seek out and buy again, Smoke if I happen to find one, Avoid at all costs): SEEK OUT AND BUY AGAIN
I’m excited to see what else Foundation has in store for we few, we worshipers of the nicotine god. Maybe a blend of the El Güegüense with a little maduro thrown in? Eh? Eh? Is that too much to ask? Or maybe, just maybe, a PA Broadleaf wrapper? Mmm… the earthiness might just do me in.
Leave your thoughts below! And a shoutout to the guy who called me Leonardo DiCaprio’s retarded brother on Instagram. You da real MVP, bro!