For the past couple of years, the only way to get your hands on a Menelik cigar from Nick Melillo’s Foundation Cigar Co. was to attend one of his events. That will change later this year, however, as Melillo has opted to offer the elusive smoke on a limited basis.
Menelik is a soft-pressed petit robusto with a pigtail that measures 4 1/2 inches by 52 ring gauge. It’s rolled with a Corojo ’99 binder from Jalapa, Nicaragua, along with a filler mix of Nicaraguan tobaccos grown in Estelí, Condega and Jalapa. The bunch is covered in a dark, oily wrapper from San Andrés, Mexico.
The new cigar will carry a suggested retail price of $13 and comes packed in 12-count boxes. The boxes will only be available at select Foundation Cigar retailers, and will be shipped once per quarter in batches of 1,000.
Like his Tabernacle cigar, Melillo was inspired by ancient history when naming the Menelik cigar. The first emperor of Ethiopia, Menelik I established the first Solomonic dynasty and is widely believed to be the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
He’s credited with bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia and his name in Arabic translates to “Son of the Wise Man.” This ties in nicely with Melillo’s popular El Güegüense brand, which loosely translates to “the wise man,” and his Tabernacle brand, which shows a portrait of Haile Selassie, the 225th emperor of Ethiopia.
Menelik is rolled at the Aganorsa Leaf cigar factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.