The way I see it, there are essentially four main phases of A.J. Fernández and his career in premium cigars (at least in the eyes of the public). The first comes prior to 2010, with A.J. making a name for himself by blending “catalogue” cigars such as Diesel, Man O’ War, and Ave Maria. A.J. became known for a full-bodied blending style, giving him plenty of fans that were eager to support his solo venture with A.J. Fernández Cigar Company. This is the second wave, kicking off in 2010 with the San Lotano brand (which is the name of the cigars made by his grandfather in their hometown of San Luis, Cuba). In 2014, the company had its second true hit with the New World cigar, marking the third wave. This cigar was blended with the help of A.J.’s father, Ismael, with the duo continuing their collaborative efforts on virtually all AJF cigars ever since. In a sense, each of these phases remain alive to this day, operating hand in glove with phase four: vertical integration. While the home base lies in Estelí—including multiple farms and one of the industry’s most successful factories—A.J. has amassed multiple other farms (and even a second factory) throughout Nicaragua. His clients range from some of the smallest to the biggest of the big, meaning this phase began to dwarf the others in recent years. The A.J. stamp can be found on a wide variety of cigars from a wide variety of brands throughout virtually every humidor in the country, leading to common anecdotes along the lines of, “Are there any cigars not blended by A.J.?”
But while his contract work for third parties may have placed the AJF company somewhat on the sidelines, it certainly hasn’t been forgotten. Earlier this summer, the company announced New World Dorado as the fifth blend in the fan-favorite line. What started as a value-priced cigar with a surprising level of punchy flavor has since proved to be a gateway to more mature projects from A.J. and his father. This includes the New World Connecticut in 2015, the New World Puro Especial in 2017, and the New World Cameroon in 2018.
The New World Dorado continues along a similar path laid out by the New World Puro Especial, which was positioned as something of an Estelí puro, using tobaccos that centered around A.J.’s various farms of the region. But the Dorado takes the specificity one step further, focusing primarily on a single farm of the same name: Dorado. Located in Estelí (no surprise), the Dorado farm is among his newest growing operations, with the first seeds being planted roughly five years ago. Translating to Golden, the farm takes its name from its unusual soil, which is said to be golden in appearance (differing from the near-black look that the Estelí region is known for).
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New World Dorado Toro Breakdown
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun-Grown Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo ’98
Filler: Nicaragua (Condega | Estelí)
Factory: San Lotano (Nicaragua)
Production: Regular Production
Vitola: 6? × 54 (Toro)
Price: $12.00 (MSRP)
New World Dorado is not only all-Nicaraguan, but almost all-Estelí (or all-Dorado, for that matter). The blend begins with a sun-grown Habano wrapper, and is joined by Criollo ’98 in the binder and fillers from Estelí and Condega. The wrapper, binder, and a portion of the filler were harvested from the Dorado farm; the remainder of the filler comes from A.J.’s other farms of Condega and Estelí.
The cigars shipped in September in four box-pressed sizes, being packaged in individually slotted boxes of 10 and priced between $11 and $12.80 MSRP per cigar.
Robusto: 5½” x 52 | $11.00
Toro: 6? × 54 | $12.00
Gordito: 5½” x 60 | $12.60
Figurado: 6? x 56 | $12.80
Aside from the familiar imagery of Christopher Columbus landing in the Bahamas (Columbus: San Salvador, 1492) on the box vista and bands, the look of New World Dorado is a departure from the rest of the line. The presentation begins with flat-style 10-count boxes, differing from the multi-tiered boxes found throughout the conventional New World collection. The boxes are large and substantial in feel, having a gold-like finish and faux box labels layered across two of the box’s corners. Underneath, the cigars are nestled within individual wooden slots, using a single ribbon beneath all 10 cigars as a means to retrieve each cigar in consecutive order. The upgraded look continues to the band, using a higher-grade, matte-textured paper and an earth-toned palette of yellows/browns/golds.
The toro is neatly pressed into a soft square shape, beginning with a double cap and showcasing almost unnoticeable veins and seams down to the foot. The wrapper is pretty impressive, having a slightly fuzzy feel and showing off a unique hue, which is muted and clay-like (complete with an undertone of gold flecks when held to the sunlight). The cigar has a soft springy quality when squeezed, feeling like a medium to medium-plus bunch density. There is a citrus element to the wrapper upfront; this leads to a subtle muskiness and squash. The foot is bright and clean, with primary notes of cedar and mineral (like the smell of rain). Considering the somewhat soft bunch, the toro has a firmer draw than expected, showing pre-light notes of clay, barnyard, and red pepper.
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From the start, there’s quite a bit going on with the Dorado toro. It’s not overly intense, but has some good spice and zesty elements, seeming to really shine through the retrohale. The profile follows the earth-toned theme of the band itself (probably the other way around, in reality), with atypical notes of tomato paste, oregano, and red pepper—Italian cooking is the overarching impression. Not a pepper bomb or a cream machine, the profile sits somewhere in between, having enough spice to tickle the nostrils but not smothering them either. It’s like a spicy meal that pushes your limits in a satisfying way—coming right up to the line before dissipating into a sweet and floral finish.
The Dorado is very aromatic, and can (should) be retrohaled 90 to 100 percent of each puff. With a medium body and strength, it is certainly flavor that takes the lead, operating in the medium-full to full range. Around the inch mark, an underlying sweetness becomes more noticeable, though it’s still in the tomato ballpark (sun-dried tomatoes, perhaps). The profile is warm and slightly savory, like a meaty spaghetti sauce on bread with red pepper flakes. While the retrohale is king, the cigar is enjoyable on the palate as well, opening with a voluminous and pillowy texture and finishing clean. The smoke hits on the back, center, and front of the palate most noticeably (though it can certainly be felt across all regions), and has a mouthwatering sensation through the finish.
Around the halfway point, the smoke becomes a bit thinner in body. Subtle zesty elements remain through the retro, but the focus seems to be drifting towards a clean, cool sensation and sweet flavors of citrus and coat perfume (a combination of wood/must/florals that I liken to “grandma’s coat closet”). The smoke is sweet and velvet-like on smaller puffs, with larger draws bringing back the former profile of herb seasonings, red pepper, bread, and wet concrete. It’s actually stronger in nicotine than the profile lets on, having a medium-full flavor as the driving force and being backed by a medium-plus strength and medium body.
From the midpoint on, the retrohale runs through almost entirely without a spice/pinching sensation. The perfume component continues for a bit longer, being more easily defined as aromatic peach, flower, and grapefruit. And while darker in the final stages, the profile does not come across as harsh, charred, or bitter. It is vegetal on the tongue, having a lingering tingling feel. This is followed by gingersnap cookies, bringing a nice balance of spice and sweet from the cigar’s former moments into a gratifying conclusion. Here, the flavor output does pull back, finishing with a profile of medium-plus strength, medium flavor, and medium body.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I sure would! Despite having some inconsistencies between samples—with one or two of the roughly five that I tried having darker profiles without the aromatic quality—the cigars bring something thoroughly enjoyable to the table. In other words, when they hit right, it’s enough to overcome the ones that don’t, keeping you coming back for that unique profile cigar hobbyists are constantly on the hunt for.
New World Dorado was announced in July and didn’t ship until Sep. 2022.
Unlike the other New World cigars, this one is rolled at A.J.’s northernmost San Lotano factory, which is located in Ocotal, Nicaragua.
As can be seen in the above image of the open box, the individual cigar slots have a sloped shape in the middle, causing an optical illusion where the cigars themselves have a wave-like appearance.
In my opinion, this is not only the best New World cigar to date, but the best AJF-branded cigar to come out since the Bellas Artes.
On Dojoverse, the New World Dorado currently has a 98% score, ranking 765/4.3k cigars.
Grandma’s coat closet
Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Pairing Recommendation: Medium-roast coffee | Zinfandel | Kentucky Mule | Old Cuban
Purchase Recommendation: Box (to start)
Unique flavor combinationsEngaging retrohale intensityClean and creamy mouthfeel
Inconsistencies between samplesWrapper is fragile and cracked near the head on some samplesSecond half is muted in comparison to exciting beginnings
Originally posted on December 2, 2022 @ 5:18 am