Bite Size Review: AJ Fernandez Días de Gloria
It’s a new year and with it comes a bevy of new rules, good and bad, governing the sale of tobacco, cigar exemptions and the usual smoking ordinances. The big news of course is the law recently passed, as part of HR 2339, to raise the age for purchasing tobacco to 21. While it may not be intuitive, raising the legal age can help the cigar industry since one of the common arguments against exempting cigars from the Obama-era Tobacco Control Act made by the FDA and others is the accessibility of cigars to minors. This is in addition to the mountain of empirical evidence showing that at best only 1% of underage smokers buy premium handmade cigars.
Early last week, the industry got a bit of a win as CNBC reported that should cigars remain included as part of all tobacco regulations, the FDA may at least turn a blind eye towards enforcement as it relates to non-flavored cigars. The decision could come as early as May. So, the result of this action may be similar to that of 2017 when cigar makers sprang into action and released a flurry of new cigars in order to slide under the deeming deadline. One of those cigars released belonged to AJ Fernandez. The cigar was the Dias de Gloria, which, like others, interestingly vanished from the market shortly after being launched.
And like some cigars that suddenly dropped out of sight in 2017, the Dias de Gloria was resurrected at the 2019 IPCPR show in Las Vegas. This time however, AJ’s newest edition which pays homage to the cigars of the pre-Castro era, or as the name translates, “glory days,” is here to stay. To commemorate such heady times, Fernandez decided to set aside tobaccos from his four oldest Estelí farms: La Soledad, La Providencia 1, La Lilia and Finca Los Cedros. Aside from being a Nicaraguan puro, some of the tobaccos employed have been aged for over seven years.
The construction of our oily, near seamless Toro is solid with a sturdy, uniform feel throughout topped by a nice triple seam cap. The golden-brown Nicaraguan wrapper shows minimal veins and has a slick feel. Under the nose, the Dias de Gloria imparts leather and mineral notes from the wrapper and cocoa powder from the foot. The draw is nicely open and dusts the palate with a fruity essence. Once lit, the opening salvo is savory and delicious highlighted by a toasty texture and leathery center mixed with creamy notes of graham cracker, honey, toasted almonds and chocolate.
Transitions offer a complex, woody focus with an abundance of caramel, nuts and espresso notes. Smoky and elegant, draws are semi-sweet and woody, and the baked finishes are hardy and satisfying. Spice goes from very light to holy crap by the last transition as does the body and intensity, but the profiles are well balanced. Combustion of our Toro is near perfect, it produces copious amounts of smoke and it holds a packed ash. The vintage leaves add a nice level of sophistication and texture to the robust blend, but I do not get a strong sense of pre-Castro cigar profiles, if that was Fernandez’s intent.
Not that I have a lot of experience with rare, pre-sixties Cuban cigars, but I would agree that the construction is certainly on par and nuances of the profile are certainly Cubanesque. Instead, I’d rather assess this cigar on its own merits without having to compare it to another and it is indeed another solid offering in a packed AJF portfolio. But, with respect to AJF’s Nicaraguan puro’s we’re of the mind the New World Especial is perhaps a more unique and enjoyable blend (and less expensive). Nonetheless, Dias de Gloria does warrant your attention and is certainly a capable companion to a Mojito or a glass of Havana Club. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: Fernandez tried a soft launch of Días De Gloria in 2017, but had a change of heart shortly after the launch to focus on other brands within his collection.
- Profile: Med-Full
- Vitola: Robusto
- Length / Ring Gauge: 5.5″ x 52
- Purchased: Direct
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Blade: Xikar Xi1
- Fire: Xikar Exec. II
- Price: $9.00 [Box $179.95]
- Humidor Age: 4.5 mo.
- Box: 20
- Other Vitolas: Short Churchill [6 .5″x48], Toro [6×56], Gordo [6×58]
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:28
Construction: Nice cap; oily; golden brown; minimal veins; solid throughout; visible seams; semi slick feel; great smoke production; holds strong 1″, salt and pepper ash.
Noteworthy: The band, designed by venerable band designer, Cigar Rings, is striking.
- Wrapper – Leather, mineral
- Foot – Cocoa powder
- Cold Draw – Fruity essence
- Initial: Leathery platform; Notes of graham cracker, honey and chocolate; creamy; toasty texture; baked finish smacks of latte; savory; toasted almonds notes appear late along with a tinge of charred wood on palate; very light spice; medium bodied and elegant.
- Transition: Kicking off with a blast of caramel; uptick in spice; more savory finish with hickory notes on draw; overtly woody; proliferation of caramel notes and nutty; hardy draw a mix of nuts, wood and espresso; a turn of the spice knob.
- Transition: Full bodied; spice level carries over; woody core; more earthy with residual charred wood and caramel; finish continues with baked feel but with heaps of toast and black coffee; minerality apparent late.
Balance: Very good
Touch ups: N/A
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]