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Staff Reviews

Charter Oak Broadleaf Staff Review

Zack D. D's picture

Zack D.

I’m smoking a 4.5-by-50 Rothschild from Foundation Cigars in the Charter Oak Broadleaf blend to kick off my official backyard loungin’ season at home, aka the week when I refill my swimming pool. As soon as Memorial Day is within striking distance on the calendar, I go on a gathering spree in the Holt’s warehouse, scooping up armfuls of new cigars to smoke while I’m manning the grill and floating around in my innertube.

Over the past half a year, I’ve been steadily smoking through the portfolio of Nick Melillo, the owner and founder of Foundation Cigars, a brand that’s made in Estelí, Nicaragua, at a couple of different factories, including the AJ Fernandez factory where Charter Oak is handcrafted. A lot of folks consider Foundation Cigars one of the best boutique brands because Melillo has scored some high marks with the critics for small-batch blends like Tabernacle and Olmec Maduro which I reviewed earlier.

Charter Oak is a bargain-priced brand that sells for around five to seven bucks a cigar and comes in a light-blond Ecuador Connecticut wrapper or the Connecticut Broadleaf I’m smoking today. Under the wrapper is an earthy blend of Cuban-seed Nicaraguan long-fillers assembled by talented rollers. Melillo is a big fan of tobacco grown in his home state of Connecticut, and the Charter Oak line was blended as a tribute to his grandfather who adored Connecticut Broadleaf cigars. The line is named for a famous tree, pictured on the cigar bands, in Connecticut where Native Americans gathered for hundreds of years.

Charter Oak Broadleaf cigars come in slide-top boxes of twenty. The toothy, dark-chocolate-colored wrapper is rustic and covers the full foot of the cigar. Thick aromas of barnyard and chocolate fill my nostrils when I slip a Rothschild from a fresh box. The cigar looks well made with a consistent density from head to foot. I pick up notes of semi-sweet chocolate chips, salted nuts, and a touch of pepper after clipping the cap for a few cold draws.

When I fire it up, loads of authentic Broadleaf flavor come through with notes of dark chocolate, black coffee, and crushed red pepper. Hints of cedar and leather add depth on the backend as the binder, filler, and wrapper fully combust throughout the first five minutes. The draw is loose and earthy while the burn turns crooked for bit.

Potent notes of leather influence the taste of Charter Oak Broadleaf through the middle with a continual undercurrent of black coffee. Hints of dried fruit offer sweet and subtle nuances. The ash is flaky in a few spots, but the uneven burn of the Rothschild self corrects as the cigar progresses. As a beer enthusiast, I would pair this smoke with a dark porter.

After I slip the band off to put away the final inch or two, the flavor doesn’t change remarkably. Earthy notes of leather and coffee continue to mingle with the cigar’s sweet and smoky profile in a classic Broadleaf finish. Charter Oak Broadleaf is a formidable blend to savor over the picnic table when you’re looking for a casual smoke that doesn’t break the bank. The Rothschild clocks in around forty-five minutes. Add a few singles to your next purchase to get acquainted with a popular blend from the growing Foundation lineup.


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