Nick Melillo made his big debut at last year’s IPCPR show and for 2016, he expanded four-fold. Nick (aka Nick R. Agua, aka Chief of Broadleaf) famously got his start at Drew Estate, working as Jonathan Drew’s right hand man and living in Nicaragua exclusively for nearly 11 years. He eventually became involved in many of DE’s most popular blends, such as multiple Liga Privada blends, the Nica Rustica, and Cigar Dojo’s own Undercrown Dogma collaboration. He left Drew Estate in 2014 and began working on his own brand, debuting a year later.

Foundation’s booth had a similar vibe compared to 2015 – colorful and native – only a lot more packed (from both cigars and people).

Foundation Cigar Company

Charter Oak

Charter Oak brings Nick back to his original roots in Connecticut. The concept draws from an unusually large oak tree in Hartford, CT, which was estimated to stand from the 12th to 19th centuries. It also pays tribute to Nick’s grandfather, who smoked broadleaf cigars exclusively. In this vein, the cigars are value-priced, as broadleaf was often considered a cheaper tobacco until recently.

Foundation Cigar Co Charter Oak artwork

I wanted to create an economy-minded, everyday smoke for connoisseurs; something tasty and delicious but didn’t break the bank.” Says Melillo.Nick Melillo

The cigars have two blends, both using Connecticut wrappers (and different fillers) – one shade and one broadleaf. Both are now shipping.

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
  • Binder: Sumatra
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Fernandez S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Packaging: 20-ct boxes
  • Vitolas: 5
  • Price: $4.80 – $5.80
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Fernandez S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Packaging: 20-ct boxes
  • Vitolas: 5
  • Price: $4.80 – $5.80

Both blends come in the same sizes and pricing, being made at AJ Fernandez’s factory in Estelí.

  • Petite Corona (5¼ x 42) | $4.80
  • Rothschild (4½ x 50) | $5.00
  • Lonsdale (6¼ x 46) | $5.30
  • Toro (6 x 52) | $5.50
  • Grande (6 x 60) | $5.80

El Güegüense

The original blend in the Foundation lineup. The cigars have two added sizes in “special edition” packaging. The boxes feature hand-painted lids, which were first seen on Smoke Night Live, with guest Nick Melillo.

El Güegüense painted box of cigars

  • Lancero (7½ x 40) | $12.50 (13-ct boxes $162.50)
  • Short Lancero (5½ x 40) | $11.50 (20-ct boxes $230)

El Güegüense



The Tabernacle

Where Charter Oak offers an affordable Connecticut experience, The Tabernacle is the premium experience. The cigars are also made at AJ Fernandez’s factory in Estelí, using a “special selection” of Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over a Mexican binder and fillers of Honduras and Nicaragua. The theme focuses on Haile Selassie, the 225th king of Abyssinia, whose lineage traces back to King Solomon. “The Tabernacle” references the Ark of the Covenant. The cigars are now shipping.

SEE ALSO: The Tabernacle Cigar Review & Rating

The Tabernacle by Foundation Cigar Co.

  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Mexican San Andrés
  • Filler: Honduras (Jamastran Valley) | Nicaragua (Estelí & Jalapa Valley)
  • Factory: Tabacalera Fernandez S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Packaging: 24-ct | 13-ct boxes
  • Vitolas: 6
  • Price: $9.00 – $12.50
  • Corona (5¼ x 46) | $9.00
  • Robusto (5 x 50) | $10.50
  • Torpedo (4½ x 52) | $10.50
  • Toro (6 x 52) | $11.50
  • Doble Corona (7 x 54) | $12.00
  • Lancero (7 x 40) | $12.50 (13-ct box)

The Tabernacle by Foundation Cigar Co.The Tabernacle cigar

The Upsetters

Most of Nick’s projects have a very traditional feel – The Upsetters does exactly as advertised, shaking up the Foundation portfolio. The cigars feature colorful artwork, like a Spaghetti Western poster infused with Bob Marley and Jamaican culture. The cigars interestingly make use of Jamaican tobacco known as “cow tongue”.

Foundation Cigar Company art

Most people don’t know this,” said Melillo, “but Jamaica has a long history of growing tobacco that rivals Cuba.Nick Melillo

Unlike the other cigars from Foundation, the factory has been undisclosed; although it is located in Estelí, Nicaragua. The cigars are flavored and feature 3 wrapper varieties. Also, the brand will be distributed by Miami Cigar & Co. and the cigars were seen at both brand’s booths at the show. The Upsetters is now shipping.

The Upsetters by Foundation Cigar Company

  • Factory: N/A (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Packaging: 60-ct | 30-ct | 20-ct boxes
  • Vitolas: 8
  • Price: $2.00 – $13.00

Candela Wrapper

  • Para El Sapo (4½ x 38 x 54) torpedo | Nicaraguan & Jamaican Fillers – Candela Wrapper ($7.00 | $140/20-ct box)

Claro Wrapper

  • Django (5 x 54) | Nicaraguan & Jamaican Fillers – Claro Wrapper ($9.00 | $180/20-ct box)
  • Small Ax (4½ x 40) | Nicaraguan & Jamaican Fillers – Claro Wrapper ($5.00 | $150/30-ct box)
  • The Skipper (4½ x 38 x 54) torpedo | Nicaraguan & Jamaican Fillers – Claro Wrapper ($7.00 | $140/20-ct box)
  • Rock Steady (7 x 48)  | Nicaraguan & Jamaican Fillers – Claro Wrapper ($11.50 | $230/20-ct box)
  • SKA (4 x 32) | Nicaraguan & Jamaican Fillers – Claro Wrapper ($2.00 | $120/60-ct box)

Maduro Wrapper

  • The Original Rude Boy (6 x 60) | Nicaraguan & Jamaican Fillers – Maduro Wrapper ($13.00 | $260/20-ct box)
  • ZOLA (6 x 52) | Nicaraguan & Jamaican Fillers – Maduro Wrapper ($8.50 | $170/20-ct box)

The Upsetters Rude Boy by Foundation Cigar Company

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