Nick Melillo is one of the fellows behind the Liga No. 9 and T52 cigars from Drew Estate. The fact that he is doing his own thing with Foundation Cigars is just terrific news for us cigar nerds. I have smoked my way through his whole catalog and actually found every single one to be simply incredible - some of the best on the market today. Heck, the Charter Oak Connecticut is my go-to daily cigar. The subject of this review is...well, it's a special cigar. The Tabernacle is a labor of love that showcases his ability to absolutely rock the broadleaf. Let's get smoking, shall we?
Construction: It's a pretty cigar. The wrapper is oily and toothy - something you really want to see in a broadleaf cigar. The band is an elegant thing of beauty.
Pre-light Aroma and Draw: No cellophane here. These are cabinet cigars. From the wrapper, I get a really notable sweet floral note. From the foot, some sweet dense chocolate like brownies. A cold pull shows off a nice draw with just the right amount of resistance - with notes of figs - like Fig Newtons - and some spice.
Light and Burn: For a broadleaf cigar this thing performs like it was programmed. Laser perfect burn - and that is sitting in my back yard with a mild breeze too. Only the Umbagog by Steve Saka impresses me more in terms of outdoor performance.
Tasting: Starting off I get a hefty no-nonsense blast of black coffee and about a dump truck load of earth. After about a quarter of an inch things turn notably sweeter. Baker's chocolate, a nice sweet cinnamon spice, a touch of pepper, and an amost espresso like coffee note. It's dense and deep and rich right out of the gate. Something you should smoke on a full stomach. On the retrohale, I get something that reminds me of chocolate mousse - a deep creamy sweetness. There are some not-so-sweet notes in there as well. That espresso morphs into a strong black coffee, some mineral notes like wet granite, and the core is all earth.
The middle third starts out with with a surprise of cut wood, an increase in the pepper notes, and a forest floor note that reminds me of northern Minnesota - always a plus in my book. The finish is a sweet dense creamy affair with a mild burn to the mouth. Overall a nice effect. Strength is on lower side of full at this stage. Not a cigar for the novice - the density of the flavors and the power behind them would knock most noobs to their knees. More notes of wood, earth, coffee, cocoa, and a terrific sweetness round out the middle. The retrohale becomes much easier in this stage as well - less painful and much smoother - with a huge amount of creamy sweet dark chocolate.
Into the final third the strength hit a solid full. Cinnamon, some red pepper, cream, something like hot fudge is in there too - ever so slight. The core is still earthy with that black coffee note. The spice picks up a bit towards the end. The sweetness is still there too. As I get close to nubbing this beauty, I get tons of that fudge and sweetness. Just a simply amazing end to an outstanding cigar.
Value: The Tabernacle is not a cheap cigar. I think I coughed up around $12 bones for this beauty. Not an every day cigar price but worth it every payday or when you want something truly special after a big dinner.
Final Thoughts: If you haven't tried one of these you are missing something special, folks. It's like a dessert in a 6 x 52 package. I drank a Left Hand Milk Stout with this and the cigar actually made me forget how good that beer is. I have smoked a ton of these and honestly never really paid super close attention to the flavors before - I just found that I liked them so much that I wanted more. Really paying attention - like I do in these reviews - made me realize just how incredible the Tabernacle is. Without reservation very highly recommended!
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Mexican San Andres
Filler: Nicaragua - Japala and Jamastran
Strength: Full for certain
Size: 6 x 52
That band is just awesome. Nice classic design!