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AJ Fernandez Last Call Maduro Staff Review

Zack D. D's picture

Zack D.

AJ Fernandez is now a name that just about every cigar smoker knows. However, if you go back ten years, he was far less-known, mostly making cigars for others. Believe it or not, it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that AJ Fernandez bought his first farm. In 2012, AJ Fernandez built the state-of-the-art cigar factory he now occupies in Estelí, Nicaragua.

For years AJ Fernandez produced multiple lines of cigars for large catalog companies, Rocky Patel, and various other brands. Fernandez broke onto the scene with his own line when he released San Lotano in 2011. The 91-rated blend marked the beginning of AJ’s climb towards the top of the cigar world.

Over the years his portfolio of top-quality cigars has expanded to offer every cigar smoker a prime choice. Today, I am reviewing one of my personal favorites, the budget-friendly AJ Fernandez Last Call Maduro in a short and slightly chunky 4 x 52 Robusto called the Corticas.

For this release, Fernandez imported Pennsylvania Broadleaf tobacco seeds and grew them in the fertile soil of his farms in Nicaragua. After an extensive fermentation process, the result was a hearty, robust Nicaraguan Broadleaf wrapper. Underneath the unique wrapper is a medium to full-bodied blend of Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos grown by Fernandez and his team.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this cigar is a knockout. The rustic wrapper extends down to close off the foot. The wrapper is toothy and oily. Everything a broadleaf lover wants is present in this wrapper. The pre-light aromas of Last Call Maduro are amazing. Notes of dark-chocolate-covered cherries are easy to pick up with hints of cayenne pepper. The cold draw, on the other hand, offers notes of habanero pepper, vanilla beans, and fresh coffee.

Once lit, Last Call Maduro unleashes much flavor on the palate. Bold notes of charred oak, leather, and coffee beans share the spotlight. There is also an abundance of peppery spice. But, it fades out as notes of leather and black coffee steal the show. At the halfway point, I struggle to find the sweetness that was present in the cold draw.

As the second half gets underway, I am greeted with some bitter dark chocolate notes along with flavors of charred oak. Finally, some sweetness is apparent. Toward the final inch of Last Call Maduro, notes of hickory barbecue sauce peak through. This may be the most interesting flavor that I have ever tasted in a cigar. I am impressed by just how complex the profile is in such a short shape.

There were a handful of hiccups, construction-wise, with this cigar. However, none of them were unfixable. The cigar itself was a little too firm, causing the draw to be a bit tight. The extra effort required to draw from the cigar caused an uneven burn, but it wound up correcting itself, thankfully. Strength-wise, I would put this cigar at a 7 out of 10. I highly recommend Last Call Maduro, but after a meal is the best time to smoke it to be safe. If you have a half hour to kill, the 4-inch Corticas may be the perfect dessert.


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