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Staff Reviews

Olmec Maduro Staff Review

Zack D. D's picture

Zack D.

I’m smoking another small-batch blend in the Foundation Cigars portfolio, Olmec Maduro, and I’m firing up a classic 5-by-50 Robusto. I naturally gravitate toward the best Nicaraguan cigars because I’m fond of the big, earthy, and peppery flavors they’re known for. Previously, I’ve reviewed the Olmec Claro from Foundation brand owner Nick Melillo, and I’m curious to see how the Olmec Maduro compares with its very dark San Andrés wrapper leaf.

The Olmec line is blended and handmade at the AJ Fernandez factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, alongside other Foundation cigars, including The Tabernacle. Melillo considers his Olmec cigars a tribute to the ancient Mesoamerican peoples who once occupied the San Andrés Valley in Mexico, where much premium tobacco is grown today, especially wrapper crops, like those harvested for Olmec. The cigars come in boxes of twelve, and the bands are adorned with an image of the monolithic stone heads attributed to the Olmec people. Under the wrapper is a well-aged blend of Nicaraguan long-fillers grown in Estelí and Jalapa.

San Andrés wrappers are typically dark, but Olmec Maduro is nearly jet-black. The cigars are box-pressed and look like bars of dark chocolate when I crack open a new box of Robustos. A few thick veins stand out when I extract a cigar from the top row and inspect it more closely. After cutting the cap, the cold draw gets my attention with very sweet hints of cherry and birch beer with a barnyard-like aroma. A good amount of woody and spicy flavor comes through.

When I fire up Olmec Maduro, it’s quite peppery through the beak. Potent notes of black coffee, oak, and dark chocolate wake my taste buds with creamy texture, while strong notes of cedar and pepper fill my nostrils when I retrohale the smoke. The draw is perfect, not too tight, or too loose, and the ash is stable. After fifteen minutes, Olmec Maduro proves to be a well-constructed, complex smoke with lots of leathery character and a hint of dried fruit.

The Robusto continues to unfold with impressive flavor as the binder, filler, and wrapper burn slow and steady into the second half. Tasting notes of black pepper, charred wood, and unsweetened cocoa blossom with a growing nuttiness. Earthy spices linger considerably on the finish of each draw.

Even though retrohaling the smoke on Olmec Maduro elevates the cigar to a borderline spice bomb, its aggressive pepperiness is what I enjoy most because it contrasts the nutty and sweet nuances in the profile. Take my advice, and push the smoke out through your nose but smoke the cigar slowly to temper its intensity. As I zero in on the nub, Olmec Maduro shows no bitterness or acidity, and the draw has been flawless.

You could easily smoke this cigar with black coffee, a porter, or a vintage bourbon. Honestly, I’m content to smoke it entirely on its own, though, because it has exceeded my expectations from the first puff to the last. Smoke an Olmec Maduro when we’ve got them in stock. You won’t be disappointed.


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