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Cigar Review: Foundation Cigars Olmec Claro Robusto

November 5, 2023 By Mitchell Santaga
Foundation Cigars Olmec Claro Robusto Cigar

The Olmec cigar is named after the Olmec people of Mexico who lived from around 1600 BCE to 350 BCE. They were found in the modern day states of Tabasco, Veracruz, and San Andrés Tuxtla region. This was the inspiration for the blend using a San Andrés negro wrapper, which is believed to be one of the oldest and one of the original tobacco seed varietals. The San Andrés wrapper accompanied by a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan fillers which Mellilo is well known for using. Although there is a Claro and Maduro offering in the Olmec, the wrapper is actually the same varietal of San Andrés but the Claro uses a lighter shade, and the Maduro uses a darker shade. The color sorting difference comes from taking lower or higher primings from the plant which requires a slightly shorter or longer fermentation process which darkens the wrapper more during the longer fermentation with the higher and thicker primings.

Under the Lid

The Olmec Claro comes in a very classic looking box with all natural wood and some bold black lettering with a nice compact six cigars per row with two rows. Like many Foundation Cigars, the cigars come with no cellophane to allow for the cedar aromas of the box to meld with the cigars if you decide to age them in the box. I also find the aromas to be much more intense when opening a box of cigars with no cellophane. The cigar comes with a single band that has a big Olmec head in the center and a beautiful orange and black theme. The wrapper is a bit rustic looking with a few thicker veins and one sample has a tiny hole near the cap. My biggest concern with the cigar is that there is no secondary band to distinguish if the cigar is Claro or Maduro unless you pull it directly from the box or have the other cigar to compare it to. I found a lot of my Claro samples quite dark, but when put next to my Maduro samples they were still lighter.

Let me preface this review by saying I meant to get to it much earlier but ended up aging these cigars for around 10 months. With the prelight experience the wrapper had aromas of sweet mustiness, the foot had aromas of musty barnyard, and the cold draw added musty fig. The draw for most samples were great or slightly on the open side.

As usual, I use a straight cut and a single torch flame to light the cigar.

  • Wrapper: Mexcio (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Fillers: Nicaragua (Estelí and Jalapa)
  • Vitola: 5 X 50 Box pressed Robusto ($13.50 box of 12 for $162)
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Release Date: September 2022
  • Number of cigars released: Regular Production

Performance Notes

First Third: On light up the cigar opens up with notes of red bell pepper, earth, oak, mild cocoa, and a mild spice that tingles the mid and side of the palates. The first few puffs of the cigar have a nice complexity to it and the spice note creates a bit of salivation on the palate. By the middle of the first third the red bell pepper note falls off and the oak earth and spice are the main flavor notes playing between each other, while a mild cocoa and added mild nuttiness comes into the profile. The profile feels balanced and stimulates the entire palate. As the first third comes to a close the profile stays very consistent with its core flavor notes of Oak, earth, and spice but the oak and earth take turns being the dominant flavor on the profile, luckily it never becomes to oaky and dry during the finish. On the retrohale there is an added depth of pepper spice and a bit of freshly sanded oak. The finish is medium and not overly drying to the palate.

Second Third: As the second third begins there are no major flavor transitions. The oak and earth dance against each other and remind me of walking through a forest after fresh rainfall and the sun starts to warm the forest floor. The spice is not overpowering at all and reminds me of a cracked white pepper. The mild cocoa and nuttiness linger in the background really balancing out the profile. Although there is no apparent sweetness such as a fruit or sugary note, the nuttiness and cocoa together bring a hint of sweetness. Every once and a while combined with the retrohale I get that original fresh bell pepper note. The retrohale stays consistent still adding that depth of pepper spice which feels a bit more like a black pepper compared to the white pepper on the tongue, and the vibrant oak.

Final Third: The final third begins with a slight ramp in strength and I find myself needing to slightly drop my puff rate and intensity to allow for the cherry to cool off a bit. With that, the flavors are still nicely balanced with the spice coming a bit more forward in the profile. The cocoa note becomes a bit darker say from a 60% to a 70% cocoa bar. As the final third comes to a close there is a mild stale vegetable note and the oak does become slightly charred on the palate, but there is still some nice notes being picked up with the earth and spice. The retrohale is still consistent with the spice and added oak depth.

The core flavor notes through the smoking experience were oak, earth, white pepper spice, mild coca, and mild nuttiness. The retro added depth to the core notes of oak and earth giving a more vibrant and fresh version of those.

  • Strength: Medium +
  • Body: Medium – Full
  • Complexity: Full

Smokin Experience: This cigar really hit my profile on all accounts and had a consistent, yet complex profile through the entire experience without feeling overly powerful in strength. The fact that the oak, earth, and spice were present clearly through the entire smoking experience without becoming muddled or acrid until the absolute very end was a great experience, and the fact that they also each took turns being at the forefront of the palate kept things engaged and interesting. In terms of construction all samples offered a great draw with maybe a slightly open draw on one sample which is sometimes expected with a box pressed cigar. The burn was slightly wavy, again which is pretty common with box pressed, but never needed any touchups or relights.

Purchase Recommendation: Box purchase

Smokin Facts:

  • The filler tobaccos are aged an aditional 3 years after the fermentation process
  • Besides CT broadleaf, Mexican San Andrés is Nicholas Melillos most commoon used wrapper
  • A large majority of Foundation Cigars are produced at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez

Smokin Wrap:

Number of cigars smoked: 2

Average smoking time: 1:23

Score: 91

Mitchell Santaga – Product Reviews and Content Creator

Mitchell Santaga started his journey into tobacco in 2010 by trying different flavored and machine-made cigars while enjoying a handle of Jack Daniels. Shortly after that he yearned for a more premium experience and dove headfirst into pipe tobacco that his local tobacconist blended, and shortly after started trying premium cigars.

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