Issue: Cigar Aficionado: Jan 01, 2019 | Score: 95
Remember the name Nick Melillo, for his star is rising among consumers and cigar fans. He used to be a behind-the-scenes guy at Drew Estate, but in 2015, he went off on his own to form Foundation Cigar Co. in his native Connecticut. He now has a growing portfolio of brands, none better than this dark and earthy smoke called The Wise Man Maduro. While there's certainly no shortage of dark, box-pressed cigars loaded with Nicaraguan tobacco, we were particularly impressed with this one. The Wise Man Maduro Robusto has all the qualities of a stand-out cigar: assertive without being aggressive, full-bodied without being too strong and interesting from first puff to last. It's a flavorful blend that oscillates between the sweet and the savory. Cocoa and vanilla notes, for example, play off the tobacco's meaty, beef-stock qualities, all integrated by an ever-present earthiness. The cigar is a blend of Nicaraguan binder, Nicaraguan filler (both grown by Aganorsa, the company that makes the cigar for Melillo) and Mexican San Andrés wrapper.If you look closely at the band, you'll see the words "El Güegüense" printed in smaller letters. That's because The Wise Man Maduro is an offshoot of the original El Güegüense, which loosely translates to "the wise man" and is named for a folkloric dance in Nicaragua. It's a nice nod to the culture, but not a name that American smokers can necessarily relate to. For the maduro version, Melillo put the English name up front, causing far less confusion in the humidor. Wise move.