- Price: $10.56
- Made By: Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua
- Factory Location: Estelí, Nicaragua
- Dimensions: 5 1/4” x 46 ring gauge
- Shape: Corona
- Filler: Nicaraguan (La Soledad) and Honduran
- Binder: Mexican San Andrés
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Cold Draw: Earth, Cocoa, Red Pepper, Cedar, Sweetness
- First Third: Earth, Cedar, Sweet Chocolate, Red Pepper, Black Pepper, Coffee, Leather, Fruit, Steak
- Second Third: Red Pepper, Black Pepper, Sweetness, Coffee, Cocoa, Fruit, Baking Spice, Wood
- Final Third: Fruit, Sweetness, Oak, Baking Spice, Chocolate, Pepper
Foundation Cigar Company founder Nicholas Melillo, the man behind The Tabernacle blend, stated that “Broadleaf is more than tobacco for me. It’s something sacred.”
I set my eyes on The Tabernacle’s irresistible, dark-as-pitch, oily Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. Not only does Melillo’s claim make perfect sense, but the entire cigar now gives off a sacred vibe. Call this the power of suggestion, or take a deep look at The Tabernacle cigar, and you might understand.
The Tabernacle’s band is black and gold and displays a detailed image of Haile Selassie, 225th King of Abyssinia. This is the same dude that the Rastafari saw as a deity. According to the Foundation Cigar Company’s website, “The reference to “Tabernacle” is as a container for the Ark of the Covenant.” Whoa, the whole theme here appears to be sacred. More on this later.
Holding The Tabernacle in my hand, I notice there’s a nice weight to it. There is some minor veining and a great looking triple cap. The wrapper’s uber dark color and veins lend a rustic feel to the stick, much like the Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 cigar. Fun fact—Nick Melillo played a significant role in blending the Liga Privada No. 9.
Anyway, I could go on and on about the look of this premium cigar. Instead, let’s see how it performs and which flavor notes we’ll find within.
Taste & Draw
The Tabernacle cigar by Foundation Cigar Company is a top-shelf stick from top to bottom. After a somewhat tight pre-light draw, I had little to no issue with the cigar’s pull. The burn line was a tad wavy here and there, but nothing too serious.
Overall this dark stick exceeded my already high expectations for it.
Once I had The Tabernacle in my humidor, I knew I was in for a great stogie. It’s a serious cigar full of complexity and balance. The smoke was nice and creamy, and the output was generous. Along the way, I tasted a boatload of satisfying notes. Among them were red and black pepper, earth, steak, coffee, sweetness, cedar, oak, and fruit.
Cigar Aficionado awarded The Tabernacle blend a 90 rating, which seems low for such a great cigar, but hey, it could have been in the 80s.
Earth, Cocoa, Red Pepper, Cedar, Sweetness
Cold draw time. I cut the cigar and take a pull. The draw is somewhat tight. At first, I taste a lot of earth. Then the flavors start pouring in one after the other. There’s some cocoa and a good deal of red pepper. Behind the red pepper, I’m picking up on cedar and some sweetness.
After a few additional cold draws, this run of notes seems to be it. I assumed The Tabernacle cigar was going to be one complex smoke, and that assumption is correct so far. How could it not be with such a sophisticated blend? Aside from the highly sought-after wrapper leaf, we’re talking about well-aged binders and fillers from Nicaragua and Honduras, including Nicaraguan tobaccos from A.J. Fernandez’s La Soledad farm in Estelí.
Did I mention they produce The Tabernacle at Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua? Yeah, so we’ve got that going for us too. Let’s light this holy smoke and get sacred.
Earth, Cedar, Sweet Chocolate, Red Pepper, Black Pepper, Coffee, Leather, Fruit, Steak
I spark up The Tabernacle cigar, and I meet a thick, creamy smoke. I can sense from the first pull all the expert craftsmanship that went into this cigar. The first note I taste is the same earth flavor from the cold draw. A cedar flavor sits just behind it. I keep smoking and taste a rich and sweet chocolate note.
At this point, I’d say we’re already close to medium to full body range due to this mighty Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. I keep smoking and pick up red pepper. A few more pulls and black pepper enters the picture. I’m also tasting coffee, leather, and some kind of fruit.
While the two cigars are quite different, the use of Broadleaf and the leather flavor are reminiscent of the Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 cigar. Toward the end of this opening third, I taste what I see as the most exciting flavor so far—meat. If I had to say what kind of meat, it’d have to be steak. Mental note to eat a good steak before smoking my next Tabernacle cigar.
Red Pepper, Black Pepper, Sweetness, Coffee, Cocoa, Fruit, Baking Spice, Wood
Coming in hot to the second third, The Tabernacle’s smoke production is out of this world. Any tightness in the draw is long gone. I’ve had little issue with the burn line. There is a definite shift in strength with certain notes in this third, more specifically, the red and black pepper have climbed into the back seat. Don’t get me wrong—those lively peppers are still making waves, just smaller ones.
The sweetness from the cold draw has come home after its absence in the first third. Beyond that, I’m picking up coffee, cocoa, fruit, and baking spice. The cedar is more of a generic wood now. Something similar happened while I reviewed the Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series cigar.
At this point, is it safe to say The Tabernacle cigar is a certified banger? I think so. Clearly, the “Chief of the Broadleaf” Nick Melillo knows his way around a premium blend.
Fruit, Sweetness, Oak, Baking Spice, Chocolate, Pepper
Entering the final leg now, and the earth note is out front. Next, the fruit flavor surges a bit before dialing things way back. The sweetness has also died off to barely a whimper, and that generic wood flavor has morphed into something like oak.Beyond that, the baking spice holds steady, and I’m still tasting chocolate and a bit of pepper.
It’s no coincidence that people hold The Tabernacle cigar in such high esteem. The presentation is incredible. The performance is top-notch. And the flavors are abundant and extremely enjoyable.
While this stick is by no means a starter cigar, I highly recommend it to those with a long trail of smoked cigars in their wake.
The Tabernacle cigar isn’t Nick Melillo’s first rodeo. Not even close. Before all of his accomplishments at Foundation Cigar Company, Melillo was a higher-up at Drew Estate for over a decade and was involved in blending many highly coveted cigar lines. That’s just a preview of what this guy has done, and with The Tabernacle, he’s done it again.
The Tabernacle is a complex smoke that is so well balanced that it somehow keeps several unruly notes in check. The experience opens with an earthy note, quickly followed by cedar and sweet chocolate. Before long red pepper, black pepper, and even a steak flavor enter the frame. Among the other flavors you’ll experience are coffee, baking spice, fruit, and leather.
Throughout the smoke, flavors come and go and reappear. They dial up and dial down in strength and never fail to hold the smoker’s attention. This is a top-shelf cigar that will instantly elevate the status of your humidor.
The Tabernacle Cigar by Foundation Cigar Company Pairing Notes
- Guinness Chocolate Mint Stout
- Elysian Space Dust IPA
- Glenlivet 12 Yr Scotch
- Glen Fohdry 12yr Speyside Single Malt
- Two Stars Bourbon
The Tabernacle Cigar by Foundation Cigar Company History
Foundation Cigar Company founder Nick Melillo knows Connecticut Broadleaf. According to the Foundation website, “They call me ‘Chief of the Broadleaf’ for a reason,” Melillo said. “I have been working closely with farmers in Connecticut for over ten years. Broadleaf is more than tobacco for me. It’s something sacred.”
We spoke earlier of Melillo’s involvement in developing the Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 blend, which makes good use of a Connecticut Broadleaf #1 Darks wrapper. For The Tabernacle, he went with an oiled-up, dark Connecticut Broadleaf, a Mexican San Andrés binder, and long-fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua, the Nicaragua portion coming from A.J. Fernandez’s famed La Soledad farm. Fernandez’s Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua produces the cigars, so you know the finished product is of the highest quality.
The theme of The Tabernacle cigar is quite Biblical. If you look to the box or the cigar’s band, you’ll find an image of Haile Selassie, who was the 225th King of Abyssinia. You can trace his lineage back to the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. The cigar’s name references the Ark of the Covenant’s container. We love cigars that come with a history lesson, and while we could continue this one, let’s wait until next time.