Search Content

Search form

Explore the World of Cigars
Staff Reviews

The Tabernacle Staff Review

Zack D. D's picture

Zack D.

I’m smoking The Tabernacle from Foundation Cigars in a 5-by-50 Robusto for today’s review. Brand owner Nick Melillo launched Foundation in 2015 after spending over a decade working for Drew Estate in Estelí, Nicaragua, where he oversaw the company’s tobacco procurement, eventually serving as vice president of the international operations.


Melillo fell in love with premium cigars in the late 1990s working in tobacco shops in Connecticut during his college years. Foundation Cigars is headquartered in Connecticut where Melillo’s beloved Connecticut Broadleaf tobaccos are grown, but the cigars are handcrafted in Nicaragua at the AJ Fernandez factory or TABSA (Tobacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.), the factory where other small-batch labels like Illusione and Warped are produced. Popular releases from Foundation include Charter Oak Broadleaf, El Güegüense, and The Tabernacle I’m smoking now.

The Tabernacle is finished a hearty Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over a San Andrés binder. Long-fillers from Nicaragua’s Esteli and Jalapa regions, as well as tobaccos from Honduras, complete the package. The Tabernacle is handcrafted at the AJ Fernandez factory, and it received some buzz from the critics when it debuted in 2016. Melillo, a history buff, named The Tabernacle as a biblical reference to King Solomon and the Ark of the Covenant. The Tabernacle is cited in The Old Testament as the resting place for the Ark of the Covenant in King Solomon’s temple. On the bands and the boxes is an image of Haile Selassie, the 225th Emperor of Ethiopia and a decedent of King Solomon.

When I slide a fresh box of The Tabernacle open, the rustic-looking cigars are firm with a thick vein structure, and they emit robust aromas of sweet chocolate, blackberry, and barnyard. After slicing a thick cap off and taking a few cold draws, notes of dark-roast coffee and pepper mingle with hints of dark fruits, like grape and plum, before the cigar is lit.

When I toast the foot for minute and begin to puff, The Tabernacle reveals an initially bitter profile of espresso, leather, dark chocolate, and fresh-ground pepper with a charry and dry texture. It’s a tough smoke at first. I recommend sipping some water and keeping your palate hydrated. The stiff taste will appeal to cigar lovers who take their coffee black. The profile stays the same for the first ten to fifteen minutes but begins to settle by that point.

Notes of oak and spent grain combine with a floral sweetness that lingers and adds balance. The cigar is malty by the middle, but it’s a welcome transition from the rigid taste The Tabernacle displayed at first. Leather and espresso complement the profile with more presence as a wavy ash forms at the foot.

Despite the cigar’s density, the draw is somewhat loose, and The Tabernacle burns faster than I would have expected when I lit it up. Still, it’s a thick and chewy cigar loaded with woody hints of earth and peat. As a craft beer connoisseur, Tonewood Fuego is an IPA that would sip with The Tabernacle to add a crisp, refreshing contrast.

By the time I peel off the band and power through the nub, forty-five minutes have passed. The Tabernacle Robusto finishes with pronounced notes of espresso and pepper, and the room is filled with a smoky fireplace aroma. The Tabernacle is a bit pricey when compared to some of my other favorite everyday Nicaraguan cigars, but it’s worthy of 90 points for overall taste and quality in my book.


Featured Products