The Wise Man cometh—to retailers. Foundation Cigar Co. has officially launched El Güegüense, or "The Wise Man," and the cigars have started arriving at retailers across the United States. The company celebrated the release of its inaugural brand with a launch party on September 26, at Mickey Blake's, a cigar shop and smoking lounge in Milford, Connecticut.
The all-Nicaraguan El Güegüense features a Corojo '99 wrapper and binder from Jalapa, and a filler blend of Corojo '99 and Criollo '98 from Jalapa and Estelí. The cigar launched in five sizes: Churchill, 7 inches by 52 ring gauge; Torpedo, 6 1/4 by 52; Toro Huaco, 6 by 56; Robusto, 5 1/2 by 50; and Corona Gorda, 5 5/8 by 46.
Guests who attended the event received an El Güegüense Corona Gorda and were eligible to participate in a raffle for Foundation Cigar Co. apparel, a painting of the Nicaraguan folklore character El Güegüense and a box of El Güegüense Churchills. Moonshine and whiskey-based cocktails from Connecticut craft distillers Onyx Spirits Co. were also on hand to pair with the cigars.
Brand owner Nick Melillo, himself a Connecticut resident and native, says he has already sold out of boxes of El Güegüense for September and October.
"The total production run for El Güegüense is 200 boxes of each size—1,000 boxes per month. Due to wrapper constraints this is where I am keeping the production until next year at which point I will review the crop and assess if production can be increased," said Melillo.
No stranger to Nicaraguan tobacco, Melillo previously ran production at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Nicaragua, where he worked for 11 years. He explained his decision to limit the production of El Güegüense:
"Nicaragua doesn't grow a tremendous amount of wrapper tobacco and the yields are low compared to other wrapper growing countries. The soil and sun exposure in Nicaragua makes for thicker tobacco, which is great for fillers but not for wrapper. Much of the wrapper in Nicaragua is grown in the Jalapa Valley and many times under shaded tents, which helps filter the sun exposure."
El Güegüense cigars are made in Nicaragua at Tabacos Valle de Jalapa (TABSA), and retail for $9.90 to $12.00. For a vertical tasting of the entire brand, see an upcoming issue of Cigar Insider.
This article first appeared in the October 6, 2015 issue of Cigar Insider.