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Staff Reviews

Charter Oak Connecticut Staff Review

Zack D. D's picture

Zack D.

I’ve reviewed over half a dozen cigars from the Foundation brand, and today I’m adding the Charter Oak Connecticut to the list as I smoke a 4.5-by-50 Rothschild in this mild and affordable small-batch blend. Foundation brand owner Nick Melillo has steadily established a collection of premiums since he launched his company in 2015. His cigars enjoy a loyal audience and have earned some solid ratings from the critics over the years. Charter Oak is considered a value brand in his portfolio, and it comes in two blends, a Broadleaf Maduro and the Connecticut I’m lighting up now.

Charter Oak Connecticut is blended from an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper, an Indonesian binder, and a complex core of Nicaraguan long-fillers from Estelí and Jalapa. When I grab a Rothschild from a fresh box, one of the first things that distinguishes the cigar is the closed foot. When the wrapper leaf on a cigar covers the foot, the first minutes of smoking the cigar will be mostly influenced by the taste of the wrapper. Charter Oak Connecticut exudes an aroma of wheat and grain with a touch of sweetness before I light it up. The cigar is firm from head to foot and exhibits a network of thin veins across its golden-blond wrapper.

Nick Melillo contracts the production of his brands out to handful of factories, and Charter Oak is handcrafted at the AJ Fernandez factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. One of the biggest advantages to having your cigars made by AJ is the consistency and quality his operation is known for. In addition to making his own brand, AJ Fernandez produces dozens of lines for other cigar-makers, including Southern Draw and Aging Room, as well as a variety of Cuban-legacy blends for Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, and H. Upmann. AJ has proven he’s equipped to handle production for several brands simultaneously, and he’s helped them grow as they become established like Foundation.

After slicing the cap off, Charter Oak Connecticut opens with notes of leather, pepper, and earth with some fruity hints in the background of the cold draw. The cigar’s closed foot facilitates fast combustion when I spark it up.  The dominant flavor is fresh bread with lots of cedar and moss notes following behind. A creamy profile of cocoa with hints of bell pepper unfolds. The draw is easy and produces plenty of smoke.

Throughout the first twenty minutes, Charter Oak Connecticut wavers back and forth between creamy and spicy flavors, but past the halfway mark, peppery notes prevail. The cigar’s initial sweetness becomes extremely faint while the retrohale begins to sting my nostrils with more intensity.

As I peel the band off, I’ve been smoking for about forty minutes which is typical for a Rothschild. If anything, the draw is a bit loose, which may be contributing some harshness to the profile with a hot burn. While I prefer the more balanced taste the cigar began with than how it finishes, it’s still a decent smoke, and you can’t argue with the price tag at just over six bucks for a single. The aftertaste is woody and peppery and reveals a hint of anise. I’m comfortable scoring Charter Oak Connecticut with a respectable 86-point rating, which is on par with my review of Charter Oak Broadleaf.

Charter Oak cigars are named for a historic tree where Native Americans gathered for hundreds of years in Melillo’s home state of Connecticut. Melillo introduces a variety of historical, religious, and anthropological themes in his cigars. Add a handful of Charter Oak Connecticut cigars to your next order and explore another reliable smoke from Foundation today.


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