Cigar Buying Guides

2019 CA Report: 10 Top Rated AJ Fernandez Cigars

10 Top Customer-Rated AJ Fernandez Cigars

Welcome to A.J.’s world. Born in the San Luís area of Pinar del Río, Cuba, A.J. has devoted his life to tobacco. His father, Ismael, with whom A.J. still works on many of his cigars, worked for Cuba’s agricultural department for tobacco. His grandfather was also a cigar maker who sold a brand locally under the name San Lutano. (People from San Luis were called “San Lutanos.”) One of A.J.’s first childhood experiences with tobacco was helping his grandfather strip leaves.

10 top rated AJ Fernandez Cigars AJ Fernandez inspecting tobacco leaf
via AJ Fernandez Facebook

Like most Cubans born into the tobacco trade A.J. also learned from his father, and at the age of 13 he would go to work on a tobacco farm called Finca La China after school. But he also had two other mentors: a well-respected tobacco grower from San Luis, Riccardo Ledezma, and the renowned Cuban cigar maker, Alejandro Robaina.

The Fernandez and Robaina families had a close relationship. When A.J. got together with Alejandro he would listen very carefully. The main thing he learned from Alejandro that has stayed with him to this day was how different tobacco leaf blends can be, as he says, “tinkered with, because you never know what you might fall upon.”

The Fernandez’s are also related to the prestigious Plasencia family. Nestor Plasencia is A.J.’s father’s cousin, and in 1995 Ismael left Cuba to work with Nestor in Nicaragua. In 2003, A.J. left the island on a family visa to join his father and never returned.

10 top rated AJ Fernandez Cigars AJ Fernandez inspecting bales of tobacco
via AJ Fernandez Facebook

In addition to the knowledge he learned from his family, A.J. was also blessed with an amazing intuition – let’s call it “a nose” – for selecting the best tobaccos. This talent is also one of the secrets to his success. Today he operates a number of estate farms, his favorite farm being San Lotano (spelled with an ‘o’) for his San Lutono heritage, and after which several of his brands are named. The farms yield a number of different tobacco types, mostly Cuban varietals of Criollo ’98 and Corojo ’99, but keeping what he learned from Alejandro Robaina in mind, A.J. also does a lot of experimentation. One hybrid is a Broadleaf he calls, “020379,” among many others.

AJ has not only created a loyal following for his own blends, but his talent can also be experienced in cigars he’s made with his father, Ismael, as well as such industry giants as Rocky Patel, the Plasencia family, and Altadis’s Grupo de Maestros. He has also made cigars made for Southern Draw, Padilla, Graycliff, Gurkha, Diesel, Ramon Allones, and most recently, Famous Smoke Shop, for the company’s 80th Anniversary.

Even though I have enjoyed many of A.J.’s cigars myself, in researching the 10 AJ Fernandez cigars featured here, I didn’t choose them from my personal experience. They were crowned by Famous Smoke Shop customers who felt they deserved the highest marks (5 stars), and I’ve also included their impressions of each cigar.

A.J. Fernandez Enclave Broadleaf Famous 80th Toro

Size: 6″ x 50, Box-pressed
Strength: Medium-plus to Full
Wrapper: U.S. Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder & Filler: Nicaraguan

Customer Review:
“Great cigar, awesome price!! I would buy more.”
– John Jarosz in RI (October, 2019)

Call it a shameless plug if you like, but this Enclave Broadleaf that AJ made for Famous Smoke Shop really hit it out of the park. . . and all it took was a little box-pressing. Offering base notes of earth, oak, sweet spice, coffee bean, and light pepper, the AJ Fernandez Enclave Broadleaf Famous 80th is tailor-made for AJ Fernandez disciples and experienced cigar smokers alike who crave full-flavored Nicaraguans. Only 300 boxes were made, and with its affordable sticker price, a big slice of the stock has already been eaten-up.

Bellas Artes by AJ Fernandez Short Churchill

Size: 6″ x 48, Box-pressed
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Hybrid Rojita
Binder: Nicaraguan Quilali
Filler: Nicaragua, Honduras, Brazil

Customer Review:
“This is an excellent cigar. Great taste, very nice appearance, and when smoked in public it won’t run others out of the room. This cigar is now one of my favorites. I think it’ll make the Cigar Aficionado
Top 5 next year, it’s just that good.” – David Skinner II in Colfax, LA (March, 2017)

At six inches by 48 ring I wouldn’t exactly call this Churchill “short,” but it’s gorgeous, and offers a long, full-bodied smoke for whiling away the afternoon or evening hours. What also makes this box-pressed cigar intriguing are the different tobaccos AJ used. The Hybrid Rojita wrapper is as flavorful as it is stunning, and a wonderful example of AJ’s ability to create some awesome varietals. Luxuriously creamy throughout, notes of cinnamon and other sweet spices mingle with the occasional citrus tang, for an experience that’s nothing short of memorable.

Dias De Gloria Toro by AJ Fernandez

Size: 6″ x 56
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder & Filler: Nicaraguan

Customer Review:

“Excellent cigar! This cigar is what I have come to expect from A.J. Fernandez. It has an excellent composition, beautiful flavor profile, great draw and lots of smoke!” – Don Boozer in Denton, TX (October, 2019)

Expatriate Cubans may not like the way their native country runs its government, but they still affectionately cling to their roots. Called “a love letter to the golden era of the pre-Castro Cuban tobacco trade,” AJ’s Dias De Gloria is just such an example. Made with tobaccos from AJ’s four oldest farms in Estelí, all of the tobaccos were aged for up to seven years, which accounts for this vitola’s creamy-smoothness. Base notes include cedar, cocoa, earth, and sweet spice for a rich-tasting and complex smoke in a wide ring format.

Enclave Figurado

Size: 6½” x 52
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado
Binder: Cameroon Binder
Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano, Nicaraguan

Customer Review:

“Just fabulous. I bought a box of these without smoking it first. I knew I’d probably enjoy this one based on my experience with other AJF products that I’ve tried [and it] did not disappoint! Lots of cedar and hay aroma, loads of smoke, perfect draw, perfect construction; dry, toasty, nutty, a little pepper as you get through the first half – just delicious. Ridiculously underpriced. Will definitely be a staple in my humidor for years to come.” – Danie Chesler in Wellington, FL (January, 2018)

An affordably-priced cigar made by A.J. and his father, Ismael, as a tribute to the world’s BOTLs & SOTLs who have come to appreciate the finest cigars. The Ecuadorian-grown Rosado wrapper is spectacular and drapes a three-nation blend which includes a delicate Cameroon binder. Offering flavors of pepper, sweet spice, cedar, and a pinch of cinnamon, the Enclave is a great example of how A.J.’s tobacco tinkering can produce a very satisfying result.

Indomina by AJ Fernandez Toro

Size: 6″ x 50
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano 2000
Binder: Mexican San Andrés
Filler: Nicaraguan

Customer Review:

“Great smoke from start to finish. I have yet to have one that was rolled too tight or burn uneven. Nice smooth complex flavor in this cigar. It’s now a must keep in my humidor, and for the price you pay at Famous it’s a steal!! Definitely grab a [humijar] or 5-pack when you can!! –Will Johnson in Somerdale, NJ (September, 2018)

Made exclusively for Famous Smoke Shop, I was impressed with the positive feedback on this vitola. Here again, A.J. uses his blending acumen to the max starting with a plush Ecuadorian Habano 2000 hybrid wrapper, a spicy Mexican San Andrés binder, and an all-Nicaraguan core. The result is a smooth, medium-bodied smoke teeming with well-rounded flavors of earth, wood, and a mix of peppery and sweet spices. One other nice thing about Indomina is, when you buy the humijar of 20, the humijar doubles as an extra humidor.

Last Call Habano by AJ Fernandez Geniales

Size: 4½” x 48
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado
Binder & Filler: Nicaraguan

Customer Review:

“Wow. Tried this little gem for the first time based on my love of A.J. Fernandez New Worlds. [It’s] very tasty, smoooooth, mild, smokes slowly, holds a long ash, and burns your fingers because you can’t put it down. Great draw, perfect burn and never have to re-light.” – Doug Beilharz in Brighton MI (August, 2018)

A.J. created Last Call as a handout to his friends after watching pro football. (And you someone like A.J. only watched soccer.) Last Call also featured an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper similar to the Enclave, but with an all Nicaraguan leaf core. Spicy, woody, nutty, and semi-sweet, Last Call is smooth and well-balanced with a peppery finish. In addition to its top-notch construction, Last Call is also a fantastic value. For cigar smokers looking for an everyday A.J., this highly-rated Rothie is par excellence.

New World by AJ Fernandez Belicoso

Size: 5½” x 55, Box-pressed
Strength: Medium-Full
Wrapper: Dark Nicaraguan Hybrid
Binder: Nicaraguan Jalapa
Filler: Nicaraguan Ometepe, Condega, and Estelí

Customer Review:

“These are fabulous smokes. Flavor and draw are wonderful, smooth as silk. These are the next best stick to a 1964 Anniversary Padron!” – William in Treasure Island, FL (February, 2018)

One of the finest puros in the A.J. Fernandez stable – also made with his father, Ismael – New World is a tribute to Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the West. The smoke is medium-full with a smooth and creamy character that offers a mix of sweet and spicy pepper along with earth, oak, some berry notes, and a splash of cocoa and coffee bean. This box-pressed figurado is a momentous discovery for cigar smokers with moderate experience and beyond, who love dark, complex, full-flavored Nicaraguan cigars.

New World by AJ Fernandez Cameroon Selection Doble Robusto

Size: 5½” x 54, Box-pressed
Strength: Medium-Full
Wrapper: African Cameroon
Binder & Filler: Nicaraguan

Customer Review:

“This is a sweet, sweet, sweet, cigar! My goodness! This bad boy delivers loads of sweet caramel and brown sugar notes balanced with black coffee, citrus and cedar. If you like sweet notes in your cigar, THIS IS ONE YOU HAVE GOT TO TRY!” – Jay Shah in Bethlehem, PA (February, 2019)

Having smoked this box-pressed beauty myself in recent weeks, I have to go along with Jay here. I’m also a big fan of Cameroon wrapper, which isn’t often at the top of the list for many cigar smokers. But when it’s done right, and A.J. selected an amazingly elastic, buttery, and flavorful leaf for this cigar, African Cameroon can be outstanding. In addition to its sweeter flavor properties, the Doble Robusto delivers a virtual buffet of spice, cedar, coffee bean, and a nip of pepper. The smoke is hearty, complex, well-balanced, and comes at a very affordable price. For anyone curious or skeptical about Cameroon wrapper, the New World Cameroon is a must-try.

Pantheon Solaris Churchill

Size: 7″ x 50
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Binder: Nicaraguan Estelí
Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo & Criollo (Estelí, Condega, Jalapa)

Customer Review:
“Great cigar. Smooth, mellow, great draw and delicious flavor. . . Can’t beat ’em.”
– Jon Michael Martin in the U.S. (September, 2019)

Presented in bundles of 25 cigars, here’s another A.J. Famous exclusive cigar that’s become a hit with Famous Smoke Shop customers. Perfect for every day, especially in the morning, a silky Connecticut wrapper caps a mix of mid-priming Nicaraguan long-fillers from the country’s three primary growing regions. Excellent with coffee, the smoke is smooth and creamy with a mix of earth, sweet spice, cedar, coffee, and a dried fruit. Sounds like a cigar that you’d be more likely to find in a box – and they taste like a much more expensive cigar, too. All-in-all, a relaxing, easy-going cigar that’ll satisfy on the golf course, camping, hunting, fishing, or just lazing on a Sunday afternoon. Newbies, take note!

Ramon Allones Robusto

Size: 5½” x 50
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Medio-Tiempo Habano Oscuro
Binder: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99
Filler: Nicaraguan Jalapa Corojo ’99, Condega Criollo ’98, Pueblo Nuevo Criollo ’98, and an Estelí hybrid

Customer Review:

“Incredible. This was a tremendous cigar. It starts with a medium spice tone to it, which turns into a full smoke of spice with nutty flavors. This robusto burns evenly and finishes strong, maintaining the full body of spice and nuts. The aroma is pleasant, spicy, and nutty with a hint of floral tones to it. One of the best rolled cigars I’ve smoked in my 25 years of cigar smoking.” – JK in Ohio on (December, 2018)

When I heard that A.J. Fernandez was going to be making this iconic cigar, I thought of some of the classic movies that have been re-made and probably shouldn’t have. But there are exceptions, like A.J. – who has made the third iteration of this iconic Cuban brand for General Cigar Co. Dating back to 1837 Cuba, the Dominican version was introduced by General in the 1970s, then released in 2001 with a Dominican-grown La Vega Especial wrapper. They’ve all been excellent, but this all-Nicaraguan blend with its dark, oily Medio-tiempo Habano Oscuro wrapper is a real standout in the Robusto. Reputed to be among the most full-bodied cigars in their day, A.J. has retained that Ramon Allones boldness without going over the top, and made it even more complex. The balance is outstanding as notes of earth, pepper, nuts, sweet spice, espresso, dark chocolate, leather, and more lap the palate for one of A.J.’s most Cubanesque creations. (It was also one of Ismael’s favorite cigars when he lived in Cuba, which made the project more personal.) Those who have enjoyed any of the previous Ramon Allones versions will not want to miss this one.

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