Two young cigarmakers (and their dogs) have collaborated on a new blend. The latest project from Kyle Gellis of Warped Cigars and Max Fernandez of Casa Fernandez is called Guardian of the Farm, and it's a brand named after the cigarmakers' dogs; the faithful companions that roam the Aganorsa farms and keep watch over the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) factory in Nicaragua. Like Futuro, the pair's first collaboration, Guardian of the Farm is an all-Nicaraguan blend of Aganorsa-grown tobaccos.
"It took about seven months, from start to finish [to create Gaurdian of the Farm]," Gellis told Cigar Aficionado. "It's made with 100 percent Aganorsa tobacco."
The cigar is draped in a shade-grown Jalapa Corojo '99 wrapper with a Corojo '99 binder. The filler consists of Criollo '98 and Corojo '99. Unveiled at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show this year, Guardian of the Farm has launched in three sizes, each named after one of the pets: Campeon, at 6 inches by 52 ring gauge; JJ, at 5 1/4 by 50; and a limited-edition vitola called Apollo Selección De Warped, at 6 by 44. The cigars retail from $8.00 to $8.74 and ship in 25-count boxes.
"JJ and Campeon are on the ground at TABSA and on the farms, extremely vigilant Aganorsa-bred dogs," Gellis said. JJ and Campeon belong to Max Fernandez and his father, Eduardo Fernandez, respectively. Apollo belongs to Gellis. While the brand name Guardian of the Farm refers to these animals, Gellis and Fernandez reveal there is a secondary meaning to the title.
"Our last collaboration was called Futuro (Future translated) because we are two young blenders who bring two palates and backgrounds into play," Fernandez told Cigar Aficionado. "We want cigar smoking to be seen as something of the future as well as of our past. As a Cuban American, I want to see this craft brought forward by people like us. Naming our next collaboration Guardian of the Farm is about achieving the same destiny. For me, the farm is the crucial element in flavor for the smoker."
Gellis mirrors this sentiment: "We are both extremely young for the industry and want to make sure the integrity of the tradition is kept alive and strong while blending in new modern approaches. For myself and Max especially, this all starts at the farm level."
Respect for tobacco tradition and the art and science of growing and blending tobacco are all inextricable themes for Fernandez and Gellis. These ideas played heavily into the naming of Guardian of the Farm:
"For Kyle and I, the tradition of the masters of this art [growing and blending tobacco] is something we respect and want to continue to thrive ... This is why with Guardian of the Farm, we've expressed how much the farm means [to us], because we define our passion by the quality of the leaf ... We aspire to be good guardians of the leaf and its origins, essentially good guardians of the farm."
Unlike Futuro, whose distribution was handled by Warped, Guardian of the farm will be distributed by Casa Fernandez. The cigar is rolled at Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA), in Nicaragua, where many Fernandez and Warped products are made. Guardian of the farm made its official debut at the IPCPR trade show in July, and is available now in stores.