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Cigar Review: Foundation Cigars Olmec Maduro Robusto

November 15, 2023 By Mitchell Santaga
Hand Holding Foundation Cigars Olmec Maduro 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 Maduro comes in a box nearly identical to the Claro but with a little band on the top right hand side that denotes the Claro or Maduro and the Maduro is a darker band, in saying that it is a classic wood box with nice bold black text and a large print of an olmec head in the middle. The cigars in the box are two levels of six cigars that are without cellophane. The band has a nice color combination of gold, black, and orange with some white lettering and a big olmec head. The wrapper was a rustic dark brown closing onto black with small visible veins, and an oily sheen to it. The caps were placed well, and the seams were very flush, but noticeable. As mentioned in the Claro review, the band has no identification of Maduro or Claro.

Let me preface this by saying the cigars were aged close to 10 or 11 months and the smoking experience may be slightly different right off the shelf. With the prelight experience the wrapper had aromas of musty barnyard with some mild spice, the foot offered that must initially but added a mild stone fruit note, and the cold draw was barnyard, fruit, and a touch of pepper. The draw during the pre-light was great on all samples. I used a straight cut with 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 Olmec Maduro opens up with notes of Cocoa, leather, and earth up front on the palate with a moderate amount of pepper spice. The tongue is being stimulated noticeably more in the middle and slightly onto the sides. As the first third develops there is a noticeable increase in an oak forward note that is drying the palate slightly, but it is accompanied by the earth, black pepper spice, with a mild coffee note and this hint of graham cracker in the background. By the end of the first third the core flavor notes of oak, earth, and spice are upfront but there is a hint of a mild vegetal note that isn’t as pleasing on the palate, especially alongside the drying of the oak forward flavors, and it tends to linger on the finish. The retrohale added some red pepper spice with a mild cocoa note as well.

Second Third: As the second third starts off the profile stays very similar to what was experienced at the end of the first third with oak, black pepper spice, and earth up front with a re-introduction of the leather but unfortunately the vegetal note lingers around and builds slightly. The graham cracker note has completely vanished. Occasionally there will be hints of the original cocoa note that was quite prominent in the beginning of the experience. The entire second third was extremely consistent with very little flavor transition and just felt like it was building on the oak and earth for the most part. The finish was still slightly drying with oak dominance. The retrohale was still adding a bit of red pepper spice, and cocoa.

Final Third: Similar to the second third there were notes of oak, black pepper spice, and earth alongside the occasional cocoa, and leather when really searching for the notes. For a single puff I experienced an absolutely delicious note of caramel that lingered on the palate and added a much needed depth of sweetness to this third. As the final third was coming to an end the vegetal note started to ramp up a bit more and became quite bitter, and there seemed to mainly be oak and pepper spice with a bit of leather in the background.

The core flavor notes throughout the smoking experience were oak, earth, black pepper spice, mild leather, mild cocoa, and a building vegetal note.

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

Smokin Experience: The Olmec Madauro had moments of wonderful bold, rich, and dark flavors that would tantalize the palate with beautiful cocoa notes in conjunction with the oak and earth, but unfortunately that didnt last the entire time. The mild drying finish alongside the lack of major flavor development didn’t allow the cigar to really shine and get into the threshold of an amazing cigar. Although there is a lot of criticism I have about the cigar, it’s mainly because I enjoyed the Claro experience so much and expected something of the sort, with a darker profile. I still enjoyed the smoking experience and would say that anyone who likes those earthier and spicier profiles will enjoy the cigar, but it did not have the balance and overall depth of flavor that I am looking for. The cigar also lost a few points construction wise with both samples requiring a touchup and one of the samples was consistently ashing well before one inch of ash requiring me to constantly get up and wipe myself off. All samples had great draws.

Purchase Recommendation: 5 pack

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 hour and 36 minutes

Score: 88


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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