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AJ Fernandez Last Call Corticas Staff Review

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Today I’m reviewing AJ Fernanadez Last Call in a quick and thick 4 x 52 format called the Corticas. Between myself and my cigar-reviewing compadres, we’ve covered a number of AJ Fernandez cigars previously, including Last Call Maduro, Bellas Artes, Dias de Gloria, and New World.

You can find AJ’s finest in premium cigar shops everywhere nowadays. The man’s upbringing in Cuba and his meteoric rise as a cigar-maker in Nicaragua have been well documented. He made a name for himself working for his uncle, Nestor Plasencia, and landed contracts making small-batch cigars for Rocky Patel as well as house brands for big online retailers. Fernandez hit his stride when he began building his own portfolio, first with San Lotano, then New World. In addition to his own cigars, Fernandez has been tapped to collaborate on a number of Cuban-legacy projects for Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, and H. Upmann. Big companies turn to Fernandez to develop new cigars that appeal to “boutique” enthusiasts. Fernandez has expanded his factory and farms on multiple occasions to keep up with the growing demand for his cigars.

AJ Fernandez Last Call is a savory series handmade in shapes that are mostly on the petite side, the largest of which is a Torpedo-shaped Corona called Flaquitas. The Corticas I’m firing up is rolled in plump but abrupt dimensions with a shaggy foot. Last Call isn’t overly fancy with its basic cigar band and simple slide-top box, but it does stir the nasal cavity with perky aromas of pepper, wood, and molasses emanating from its oily reddish-brown wrapper.

The plain look of Last Call is deliberate, though. The blend was originally offered to guests who visited AJ’s cigar-making operations in Estelí, Nicaragua, and, like its name implies, it was his favorite cigar to smoke at the end of the night. Factory-tour exclusives are common among cigar-makers who want to offer their visitors something special. When Last Call debuted to the public in 2016, it was limited to brick-and-mortar shops, but you can find it online everywhere today.

Last Call may be a bit stiff for an end-of-the-evening treat for some. It’s drafted from a meaty Cuban-seed wrapper grown in Ecuador and a hardy blend of Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. It’s a concentrated cigar for sure, and the compact Corticas size only amplifies its intensity – not unlike swigging a shot of whiskey.

A wild flame leaps around when the rumpled tobacco covering the foot of the cigar is fully engulfed. An extra dose of spice and pure flavor from the wrapper overruns the palate with a dry, fleeting texture in the first few puffs. Notes of pine needles, cedar, and leather leave a touch of harshness behind. After I gulp a few times and the whole cigar starts to cook, it settles down with a hint of sweetness and nuts.

Last Call packs a wallop, but it’s exaggerated in the short shape I’m smoking. Smoky fireplace flavors deliver a no-frills impression. Last Call is beefy and straightforward. It’s not especially complex, but it’s also not bad. It’s well-made too. A consistent white ash forms as the cigar burns closer to the band. You could suck down a hot espresso or an ice-cold bottle of beer with Last Call, and each would be equally pleasing.

Last Call finishes with a blast of tree bark, black pepper, soil, and fresh coffee. Its inexpensive price and no-nonsense profile make it an easy cigar to puff on when you’re craving one, but maybe you’ve already smoked a few and you aren’t sure what you want next, or you’re not in the mood to smoke something more extravagant. Pound your fist on the bar for a Last Call before they hit the lights.


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