With the 2018 smoking season rapidly coming to a close, enthusiasts have now been given the opportunity to experience nearly everything the premium cigar industry could muster. Some brands, such as Crux’s Epicure Maduro, wouldn’t make the cutoff, pushing their cigars into 2019 and bowing out of 2018’s year-end lists. As of December, there were essentially three cigars void from the hands of anxious enthusiasts—each of which has been tied to the name “Nicholas Melillo” in some fashion. These cigars are as follows: The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No. 142, Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo, and Liga Privada 10-Year Aniversario. And while Foundation Cigar Company owner Nicholas Melillo had no direct involvement in the latter two cigars, it’s worth mentioning that he was a major player in the original Liga Privada blends, to which those cigars are related.
Alas, as of Dec. 5th, one more cigar can be entered into the 2018 record books, with Foundation beginning shipments of The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No. 142. The cigars were first announced in July and put on display at the company’s IPCPR booth, but the estimated fall release had begun to seem futile. This was due to the cigar’s unique wrapper choice and its difficulties in processing; Foundation claims the leaves took an astonishing three years to properly ferment. The cigars, which are a sequel to 2016’s The Tabernacle, are now ready for consumption, using a similar binder/filler recipe to allow the aforementioned wrapper leaf to shine.
Master blender, Nicholas Melillo, has been working with choice farmers in the Connecticut River Valley since 2014 to develop the Havana Seed CT #142 wrapper. The seed is extremely rare and unlike any other tobacco in the world. Due to the incredible amount of oil from the plant, it takes 3yrs to undergo the fermentation process. The results make for a delicious medium to full-bodied blend with hints of cedar, spice, rich earthiness and natural sweetness.
—Foundation Cigar Co.
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The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No. 142 Corona Breakdown
- Wrapper: Havana Seed CT No. 142 (USA)
- Binder: San Andrés (Mexico)
- Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí | Jalapa) | Honduras (Jamastran)
- Factory: Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5¼″ × 46 (Corona)
- Price: $9.00 (MSRP)
The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No. 142 is one of the longest cigar titles you will come across—which is no small feat, considering the cigar industry’s fondness for opulent tongue twisters. With the 142, however, the name is key to understanding the cigar’s unique framework. Havana Seed CT No. 142 is the technical name for the cigar’s wrapper varietal. The number helps to differentiate the exact strain, as there have been many variations of the original Havana seeds (type 52, for example, is used on Drew Estate’s Liga Privada T52), which were brought over to Connecticut from Cuba during the span of 1860 to 1870.
In this amount of time, the leaves have been cultivated long enough to essentially be considered a unique strain from their Cuban origins; especially considering the modern advancements of hybridizations, where Connecticut Havana seeds were not involved with the creation of varietals such as Havana ’92, Criollo ’98, Corojo ’99, etc. Instead, Connecticut Havana seeds have undergone their own adaptations to the environment, with type 142 being a seed that was hybridized from former Connecticut Havana variations to be resilient to a tobacco disease known as black shank.
This leaf shares its origins with the wrapper used on the original The Tabernacle cigar, both being harvested from Melillo’s home base of Connecticut. But while the former has risen to become one of the most popular choices in today’s premium cigar market, the latter is much more unique. Nick describes the 142 leaf as being much thinner and oilier than the broadleaf used on the original The Tabernacle and, when paired with the cigar’s multinational filler blend (essentially the same ingredients between the two cigars), produces a “medium to full-bodied blend with hints of cedar, spice, rich earthiness and natural sweetness.”
It’s the same overall appearance with The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No. 142 (compared to the original cigar), beginning with natural, slide-lid boxes of 24 ribbon-bound cigars. Emperor Haile Selassie’s likeness is stamped on the box’s lid—basing the imagery off of a different photo than the original cigar. This is mirrored on the cigar’s bands, which feature the same shape and design as the 2016 release, with minor alterations, such as a red background, skin-toned coloring on the emperor’s face, and a flat-style background gradient. In my opinion, it’s an improved look, with the red coloring and skin-tone additions providing a nice pop that the monochromatic original may have lacked.
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The cigar’s wrapper is much darker than your average Havana seed, being roughly Colorado maduro, with undertones of chocolate and maroon. Apart from a double cap (expected a triple), there are virtually no flaws. The cigars are straight and rigid, showing a slight springiness and a perfectly rounded head. The wrapper has a small amount of tooth, feeling similar to a brown paper bag.
Surprisingly, there is very little aroma to be found on the cigar’s wrapper—subtle tang and barnyard musk are faintly noticeable. The foot is likewise lacking in pungency, with light notes of cherry and cedar. With what feels like a firm filler bunch, the corona delivers a pre-light draw on the firm side, offering subtle notes of chocolate-covered cherries, musk, pastries, and a spicy sensation on on the lips.
The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No. 142 Corona lights up with a noticeably dense profile on the first few puffs. There are woodsy notes upfront, with a hickory sweetness being most apparent. The smoke is dry in texture, providing a biting spice in the nostrils and a creamier sensation on the tongue. This creaminess builds to become something unusual—raw, pasty, spiced pinto and black bean dip. A background sweetness within the first third eventually becomes more open, having a fruity quality of bubblegum, gin-like botanicals, and chocolate-covered cherries.
Nearing the second third, the smoke is sharp in flavor, hitting the sweet/salty taste receptors first and followed by the acidic region. The cigar is clearly flavor-forward, being nearly full; this is joined by a medium strength and a body just a tic over medium. The draw is slightly firm but certainly manageable, producing medium amounts of smoke on each puff. Construction-wise, the cigar is admirable, collecting one and a half to two-inch segments of ash consistently; though it may not be quite the perfect specimen that the pre-light inspection suggested.
Cubanesque nuances are available in the form of must (like the smell of your grandparent’s basement), joined by classic notes of cedar and heavy cream. But at the core of the profile is hickory and a deep juiciness (which is amplified tenfold with a bourbon pairing). Additional complexities are of bitter baker’s cocoa, natural tobacco, and a darker tone near the cigar’s finish—like toasted hardwoods and bitter herbs.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Again and again! The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No. 142 Corona is the only size I’ve experience in the collection thus far, but I’m now eager to try out the other three sizes (although, I have it on good authority that the Corona and Robusto formats are the standout sizes in the lineup). This is a good example of how new and exciting smoking experiences can still be found in the crowded market that is craft cigars. In fact, some samples showed a bizarrely satisfying flavor that I could never quite put my finger on. I didn’t add this to the final review because it was only in about thirty percent of the multiple Coronas I smoked, but when it hit, it was like nothing I’ve smoked before.
- This is my favorite cigar to date from Foundation, ranking the top end of the company’s portfolio as: The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No. 142 > El Güegüense > The Wise Man (El Güegüense) Maduro > The Tabernacle.
- Each of Foundation’s four top-tier cigars mentioned above have received 92-point (or above) scores on Cigar Dojo.
- The Tabernacle series has become somewhat of an analogous tale when compared to the legendary Liga Privada series, which Nick helped to create in the mid-2000s. The original Liga Privada No. 9 features a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Brazilian binder, and fillers from Nicaragua and Honduras; compare this to the original The Tabernacle, which uses a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Mexican binder, and fillers of Nicaragua and Honduras. On paper, the only glaring difference is the binder ingredient. Liga Privada No. 9 was followed by the T52 blend, which swapped the broadleaf wrapper for a Connecticut Havana-seed leaf (type 52); similarly, the CT No. 142 performs the same switch, opting for a hybridized offshoot from the same mother seed.
- Flavor: Full
- Strength: Medium
- Body: Medium / Full
- Ripe Fruit
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Bourbon (100 proof or more), Barleywine, Dr. Pepper, Disaronno, Balsamic-glazed pork tenderloin
- Purchase Recommendation: Full box (or more)
- Full flavors with unique attributes
- Great balance
- Long finish
- Some touchups needed
- Slightly firm draw
- Some inconsistencies between samples