Cigar Ratings & Reviews



El Gueguense Famous Exclusivo – Cigar Details:

Construction: All agreed that the cigar was expertly rolled with a soft box press.
Draw: John & Paul noted a slightly firm draw, while Jared & Gary found the draw flawless.
Pre-Light & Toasting Flavors: Different nuances aside, we all agreed on pepper, earth, herbal notes and raisin.
Key Cigar Flavors: We each found the cigar earthy with caramel, meat, and coffee flavors standing out among most of our reviews.
Smoke Aroma: Coffee, chocolate, nuts, and spices.
Burn & Ash Color/Quality: Everyone was satisfied with burn and ash performance. Pullo found it flaky at times with a few minor issues that Paul also noted. Ash was marbled in appearance.

Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA)
Size: Box-pressed Toro (6” x 52)
Strength: Full
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua Corojo ’99
Binder: San Andres
Filler: Nicaragua

Presented in boxes of 10

The El Gueguense Famous Exclusivo Backstory

In 2015 former Drew Estate master blender Nick Melillo released the debut blend—El Gueguense—from his new company, Foundation cigars. Honoring Nicaraguan cultural and folk traditions, El Gueguense (pronounced el wey-when-say) translates to ‘the wise man’ with its band echoing the familiar mask worn by the character. The original blend was favorably received, boasting a host of 90+ ratings and a place on a certain flashy cigar magazine’s Top 25 Cigars of the Year countdown.

Like the original, the El Gueguense Toro Box Press Exclusivo is handcrafted at Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (or TABSA for short) in Nicaragua and utilizes primarily Aganorsa tobaccos. However, the Famous Smoke Shop El Gueguense Exclusivo is softly box pressed—as opposed to the standard parejo—and swaps out the original’s Corojo ’99 binder for Mexican San Andres. The remainder of the blend—a Corojo ’99 wrapper and long filler Corojo ’99 and Criollo ’98 from Jalapa and Esteli Nicaragua—remains the same.

Find out what we thought of the El Gueguense Box Press Toro Exclusivo. Did the new shape and introduction of San Andres tobacco transform the cigar for the better? And remember, like the other Famous Smoke Shop Exclusivo blends, El Gueguense is limited edition and comes in boxes of 10.

John Pullo’s Tasting Notes…

This Wise Man Exclusive for Famous is a big, full and genuinely enjoyable burn. Smoke it because you already like El Gueguense, or if you’ve already tried the other Famous Smoke Exclusivos from Saka, Carrillo, HVC, and so on, to see how they compare. But considering the limited run nature of this box pressed Toro, it’s the “completists” who will smoke this most – you know, the serious cigar types who will spy all 14 vitolas and variations of El Gueguense and make it a mission to smoke Every. Single. One.

The first few drags offer a mix of caramelized sugar and charred wood; best I can compare it to is if you’re roasting marshmallows, and it caught on fire. The spice comes on after these first few draws, and it’s a “wow.” A little sweet, very meaty.

First 1/3, the El Gueguense Famous Exclusivo pumps out body and strength you can feel right away. Black pepper coats the tongue, along with coffee and roasted nuts. Don’t be surprised if you feel it in your gut a little. The retrohale is very floral, but very peppery. By the second half, everything has settled in: pepper, earth, and the sweetness is defining itself as dark chocolate. The last 1/3 is where this sweetness peaks, calling back to the raisin taste from the very beginning. The sweetness and pepper both eventually fade…this reveals a woody sensation right at the edge of BBQ smokiness.

So even if you don’t get your hands on this Exclusivo, I found plenty of good enough reasons to smoke El Gueguense in whatever form you can find. The fact that this is my personal size preference is what gets the Exclusivo my nod of approval.

Gary Korb’s Tasting Notes…

Few cigars can deliver the kind of pitch-perfect smoking experience as this exclusive El Gueguense. Once lit, the first few puffs offered a vivid black pepper shot while exuding a high volume of thick smoke. The pepper exited quickly leaving a smooth medium-bodied smoke with a mix of earth and (cedar-like) woody notes. By the first inch, the smoke was well-rounded and creamy with a toasty warmth. Brown sugar, thyme, fennel, and roasted nuts followed. Nearing the mid-section of the cigar, the brown sugar began to fade while the body moved up a notch. That left me with a well-balanced cigar that was mostly woody and nutty with some underlying earth and light pepper.

By the midsection, the smoke was well-balanced and moved closer to being full-bodied. I also picked up an appealing toasty note that was almost like toasted rye bread. More earth and the herbal notes emerged here, too, while the sweetness began to lag behind. As another inch burned away, the smoke was officially full in body, still very smooth, balanced, and mostly woody-nutty in flavor.

The final inches remained very smooth. The cigar also began to feel a little stronger, but never became objectionable. A burnt coffee taste emerged here, too, while the earth, herbal notes and toast were still prevalent—minus the sweetness which had pretty much disappeared by now. Smoking it down to about the last inch, the cigar continued to perform well. Yet now it was darker in flavor, and a bit more earthy complemented by notes of burnt coffee and charred wood.

Foundation Cigars fans, your ship has come in. Smooth, consistent, and hearty throughout, it makes a dynamite after-dinner smoke. Pair it with a good bourbon or dark rum (preferably Flor de Caña). As to its price; sure, it’s up there with some luxury liners. However, this Toro performs just as you would expect a cigar at this price to perform.

Jared Gulick’s Tasting Notes…

I’ve had a long love affair with Nick’s creations and always place him among the best of the boutiques cigar manufacturers; it’s exciting to see El Gueguense join the family of Famous Smoke Shop exclusives.

My sample started out pretty spicy. There was some raisin, pepper, and earth on the toast and light (and even some in the pre-light, too). In the first inch or so, I tasted coffee much more so than the original Gueguense, and even some cocoa. I chalk that up to the new San Andres binder. It’s almost like a really smooth mocha for the first few inches.

The cigar’s spiciness didn’t throttle down as it burned the way many Nicas do. But the overall strength isn’t heavy enough to make that an issue. By the time I smoked to the halfway mark, there was more emphasis on sweet wood and spices. The coffee and cocoa were still there, just not as prominently.

I tasted hints of cinnamon throughout the second half, adding to the café theme that I’ve found heavily throughout El Gueguense Exclusivo. The only oddball flavor was raisins, which somehow worked. It was like going and ordering a spicy cup of mocha (is that even a thing?) while munching on an oatmeal raisin cookie.

Overall, I’m really happy with this Foundation entry. I don’t like it more than the original Gueguense, but I certainly don’t like it less. The Wiseman Exclusivo stands on its own merits and comparing it won’t do as much justice as trying it will. Check it out and let me know!

Paul’s Tasting Notes…

Being a fan of the original El Gueguense, I anticipated a dynamite smoke in the Toro Box Press Exclusivo—and I wasn’t disappointed.

The El Gueguense Exclusivo had plenty of heat up front—in terms of red pepper leading a full brigade of flavor. Soon to follow were notes of earth, cedar, citrus sweetness, and meatiness and the smoke was dense and flowed freely. So far, the El Gueguense Exclusivo was medium bodied and balanced.

This is one of those cigars that seems to improve as it goes. At the midway point, I’d place the El Gueguense Exclusivo into the complex category with its waves of rich flavors. The red pepper is now but a whisper as the profile is smoothed over with creaminess, coffee, and roasted peanuts. And while I’m mentioning a litany of flavors, they’re not a mishmash or competing for the spotlight. Rather the profile is balanced and thoughtful and in medium-plus territory now.

I mentioned during the video that I smoked my first sample down to basically dust in my fingertips—and while I was exaggerating a bit, I can’t remember a cigar that I was so resistant to put down. The El Gueguense Exclusivo stood out to me in that it never turned bitter, harsh, or burned too hot as I reduced it to embers. Flavor wise—the final third was a crescendo that brought the cigar to a satisfying close.

What they said about the Dude’s (gratuitous Big Lebowski reference) rug, I’m going to say about the El Gueguense Exclusivo’s Mexican San Andres binder—it really tied the blend together. It’s hard to improve on El Gueguense’s nearly universal 90+ ratings and appearances on various best-of lists, but the Famous Exclusivo gives the original a run for its money. Not only that, but the El Gueguense Exclusivo ranks among the best in the Famous Exclusivo collection—not an easy feat in and of itself. Fans of good tobacco and expertly crafted medium-plus to full bodied cigars need to put the El Gueguense Exclusivo at the top of their shopping list.