Foundation Cigar Co. Unveils Its First Brand

When Cigar Aficionado announced the formation of Nick Melillo's new Foundation Cigar Co. last month, there were no details about the company's brand. Now, Melillo has told Cigar Aficionado that the debut line is called El Güegüense, and it contains only Nicaraguan tobacco.

Pronounced "El-Wah-Wen-Say," the new El Güegüense cigars are being made at the TABSA factory in Nicaragua. The name is based on one of Nicaragua's most culturally iconic folklore dramas and translates to "the wiseman." The imagery on the box correlates to the masks used in the performance. 

"This brand encapsulates my twelve years of living in Estelí and my respect for all things Nicaragua," Melillo said.

According to Melillo, El Güegüense is blended with vintage-specific tobacco. The blend consists of a Corojo '99 wrapper and binder from Jalapa, though from different farms, while the filler is made up of Criollo and Corojo tobaccos from 2011 and 2012 crop years. (Note: Corojo '99 does not indicate harvest year, but seed variety.)

The El Güegüense cigars will be packaged in dress boxes of 25 and offered in five sizes: Robusto, 5 1/2 inches by 50 ring; Corona Gorda, 5 5/8 by 46; Toro Huaco, 6 by 56; Churchill, 7 by 48; and Torpedo, 6 1/4 by 52. They'll retail in the $9 to $13 range. Though debuting at the IPCPR trade show on July 18, the cigars will not appear on retail shelves until September.

Melillo formerly ran production at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Nicaragua, where he worked for 11 years. The Connecticut-based Foundation Cigar Co. is his first cigar brand since departing Drew Estate in 2014.

This article first appeared in the July 7, 2015 issue of Cigar Insider.