El Güegüense. Pronounced “way-when-say” and translating to “The Wise Man” from the Spanish, it is a Latin American theatrical drama written by an anonymous writer in the 16th century and passed down orally until it was eventually published in written form in 1942. Widely recognized as the first literary work of post-Columbian Nicaragua, El Güegüense is a costumed satire with the theme of deception for monetary gain. The play is performed during the feast of San Sebastián in Diriamba from January 17th to the 27th.
In 2015, Nick Melillo—a former cigar retailer and Drew Estates executive—established the Foundation Cigar Company. His initial release was a Nicaraguan puro, composed with a Nicaraguan Corojo 99 wrapper from Jalapa, a Nicaraguan Corojo 99 binder from Jalapa, and Nicaraguan Corojo 99 and Nicaraguan Criollo 98 filler leaves from Estelí and Jalapa. Nick named the line El Güegüense, in recognition of its tobacco heritage. The blend was manufactured in five sizes, with the Churchill vitola receiving a 92 point “Habano on Steroids” rating on Cigar Dojo. The El Güegüense also received “Top 25” recognition from Cigar Aficionado magazine and became Cigar Dojo’s “Number 3 Cigar of the Year in 2015.”
At the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas, Foundation Cigar Company introduced the first line extension to the two-year-old brand—the The Wise Man (El Güegüense) Maduro.
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The Wise Man Maduro Torpedo Breakdown
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
- Binder: Nicaraguan Corojo 99 (Jalapa)
- Filler: Nicaraguan (Condega | Estelí | Jalapa)
- Factory: TABSA (Estelí, Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6¼” × 52 “Torpedo”
- Price: $11.50 (MSRP)
The Wise Man Maduro is the initial line extension to the Foundation Cigar Company’s award-winning El Güegüense blend. It is offered in five box-pressed sizes—the Corona Gorda (5⅝” x 46, $9.90 MSPR), the Robusto (5½” x 50, $10.50 MSRP), the Churchill (7” x 48, $11.00 MSRP), the Torpedo (6¼” x 52, $11.50 MSPR), and the Toro Huaco (6” x 56, $12.00 MSRP). The vitolas are shipped in twenty-five-count wooden boxes with the cigar’s logo printed on the top and the underside of the lid.
This new blend features a Mexican San Andrés wrapper instead of the Nicaraguan Corojo 99 used on the original El Güegüense release. The binder remains the same—a Nicaraguan Corojo 99 binder from Jalapa—while the filler mixture is enhanced with the addition of Nicaraguan Condega tobacco. Nick said, “The blend encompasses bold flavors of black pepper, dark roast espresso and cacao. Medium plus in body and strength and rounded out with a nutty finish.”
The Wise Man Maduro Torpedo is a striking looking cigar, with a colorful band and edges slightly rounded in the Cuban box-pressed tradition. The cigar’s Mexican San Andrés wrapper is a bit rustic—with three slightly-raised seams, two long keloidal-scar veins, small-grit sandpaper tooth, and a torpedo cap which leans ever-so-lightly to the right. On the “shades of brown” spectrum, the color of the cigar occupies the midpoint between kobicha and russet, with splotches of dark burnt umber scattered across the face. A substantial amount of oiliness produces a shimmering sheen, like a cup of motorcar lubricant drifting on a sunburnt sea.
The Wise Man is encased with an intricate and ornate band—die cut, embossed, and printed in a plethora of tones. Residing in the center is the El Güegüense logo, with the words “The Wise Man” and “El Güegüense” hovering above and the words “Esteli, Nicaragua” beneath. Gold medallions also flank each side of the logo. It is an impressive presentation.
Firmly packed from the foot to the cap—bordering on the edge of sun-dried papier-mâché—the wrapper aroma is a delicate combination of earth and light chocolate, while the open foot smells of aged tobacco, dried hay, and manure. After the cap of the toro is opened with a double guillotine cut—to ensure the maximum amount of taste from the wrapper, binder, and filler—the cold draw is reasonably open. Flavors of assorted spices, coffee, and mocha immediately touch the palate, while a sublime spiciness formulates on the lower lip.
After toasting and lighting the cigar with a soft double-flame lighter, the first few draws produce a smorgasbord of delicious notes. The Mexican San Andrés wrapper delivers its characteristic chocolate and spice, the Nicaraguan Condega tobacco produces a touch of sweetness, the Nicaraguan Jalapa contributes an overall softness, and the Nicaraguan Estelí adds heft and strength. This combination quickly culminates in a mouthwatering flavor profile that attractively coats the entire tongue and the roof of the mouth while producing a lingering finish. The draw of The Wise Man Maduro Torpedo is close to perfect, generating a sizable amount of smoke output. Aromas and flavors of French-pressed coffee, cocoa powder, cream, and raisin mingle together in an ambrosial balance, while dried fruits and black pepper are dominant on the fairly strong retrohale.
As the torpedo enters into its second third it begins to display the following general characteristics—medium-to-full in body, medium-to-full in strength, and nearly full in flavor. The aromas and flavors present in the first third of the cigar continue to evolve, while the initial French-brewed coffee note shifts toward a strong double espresso with a dollop of velvet foam. Additional notes of cacao nibs, chili powder, dried soil, and warm peanuts flirt in and out of the mix, adding to the overall complexity of the cigar.
The burn line is quite sharp, holding over one and one-half inches of gunmetal gray and nickel ash with streaks of obsidian between the tightly-compressed stacks. On the piquant retrohale, the dried fruits and black pepper present in the first third are enhanced with trace amounts of assorted flowers, brown sugar, cedar, cinnamon, leather, and nutmeg. Retrohaling The Wise Man Maduro is an essential component of the smoking experience.
SEE ALSO: How to Retrohale a Cigar
As it burns through its final third, the torpedo continues to provide an outstanding smoking experience—complex, flavorful, sophisticated, and smooth. The draw remains very open, requiring only single puffs to produce bountiful amounts of ceiling-clinging smoke. Aromas and flavors continue to deliver a combination of practically every category on the cigar tasting wheel—nuts, dried fruits, herbs, spices, and earth. The burn line remains unwavering, with the ash naturally falling off in one and one-half inch clumps. A dab of fruitiness, minerality, and saltiness coquettishly appears, reminiscent of an iced platter of Belon oysters accompanied by a flute of Champagne. The cigar is smoked all the way down to the nub.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
The answer to that question is, “Very frequently.” I am a fan of Mexican San Andrés cigars, and The Wise Man Maduro Torpedo is currently one of the best examples on the market. The cigar is full of flavor and delivers an exemplary amount of complexity. After smoking the review samples, I immediately purchased a few boxes. The cigar will occupy a predominant place in my weekly rotation.
- Smoke Time: 2 hours
- Pairing Recommendation: espresso, Guinness, scotch, bourbon
- Purchase Recommendation: full box (or more)
- Outstanding construction
- Bold flavors
- Excellent transitions
- May be difficult to find