Serino Wayfarer Corona Gorda

The line name of our next review has special significance for me. When I first learned of Serino’s 2017 release, Wayfarer, it immediately took me back to my boyhood days in the mid 70’s when I would travel from Texas to my Grandparent’s summer beach cottage in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The white, 2-bedroom clapboard structure with green shudders was perched on stilts, under which you would find fishing rods, crab pots, a small bass boat and many other tokens of life by the Gulf. My grandparents dubbed their quaint hideaway “Wayfarer” as a tribute to their globetrotting days when my grandfather worked for the US Department of Agriculture. Those were some great summers.

In a similar vein, Carson Serino was backpacking his way around Iceland when he realized he’d left behind his travel humidor stuffed with cigars. During a 2019 interview with Cigar Aficionado’s David Clough, Serino recounted how he subsisted instead on only Cuban cigars he acquired while on his trip, a pivotal sequence of moments that stirred him to blend a cigar inspired by his Cuban experience aptly dubbed, Wayfarer. Wayfarer proved to be a successful follow-up to the Pompano Beach-based outfit’s – Carson and Dad, Anthony Philip Serino – freshman effort, Royale, the year prior.

For a fledgling outfit celebrating just their 4th birthday, Serino Cigars has become somewhat of a social media darling who have put together a small but critically acclaimed cigar portfolio that now includes their newest line, Taino. Their early success can be partly attributed to their partnership with Cuban émigré and master blender, Omar González-Alemán, and his La Corona Factory, who also has a deal with Hirochi Robaina. There’s no question, however, that Wayfarer has been their breakout cigar which has obviously gained the attention of the aforementioned good life mag, earning a respectable 90 rating (The 109 vitola) in 2018.

I was impressed by Serino’s Royale Medio during an informal get together while also being acutely aware of the social media buzz behind Wayfarer. The corona gorda size was calling to me over some of the larger sizes, and while visually unremarkable, save for maybe the band, the floral aroma from the Corojo wrapper was hard to ignore. With a light oil and average cap, the cigar’s rough, mottled russet hue disguised the seams. The cigar was light in the hand with an overall even firmness, but if felt spongy around the band. The cold draw was tight for my taste and the flavor muted, but I did get a light raisinesque essence.

The opening profile is a good sign of things to come.  The draw is rife with sweetbread and toasted oats. Atop a woody, toasty foundation is a delectable mix of caramel, toasted almonds, cedar and cinnamon intonations. The finish too is toasty with hints of black coffee, which becomes nuttier over time. Hints of vanilla appear late as does a light spice on the palate. Smooth and well balanced, Wayfarer continues this scenic hike with a smoky persona and more robust, woody foundations, moving from a profile of black pepper, toast and cedar to a spice bomb of dark chocolate, earth and espresso.

Here’s the big “but.” Unfortunately, our corona started to “canoe” early. It eventually self-corrected and the evidence was clear that a poor bunch/roll was the usual culprit. This also explains the tight draw, which did improve. Performance wasn’t great as our cigar also struggled to hold any appreciable ash, but she is a slow burner and solid smoke producer. We’ve had a rash of these lately, so it was a little disappointing. Nonetheless, I think performance issues are a residue of inconsistency and Wayfarer offers way more in flavor, enjoyment and value. Like my visits to my childhood summer oasis, Wayfarer wasn’t perfect, but it sure packed in the good times. – In Fumo Pax!

Recommendation: Boxworthy

Did you Know: APS Distributors, the acronym being the elder Serino’s initials, began in the early 2000s and produces a considerable number of retailers’ house brands as well as importing, warehousing and distributing cigars for other manufacturers.

  • Profile: Med-Full
  • Vitola: Corona Gorda
  • Length / Ring: 6.0″ X 46
  • Purchased: B&M
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Corojo ’99
  • Binder: Nicaragua Criollo ’98 (Jalapa)
  • Filler: Nicaragua Criollo ’98 & Corojo ’99 (Jalapa, Condega, Ometepe)
  • Production: La Corona S.A.
  • Blade: Xikar xi1
  • Fire: Colibri Firebird
  • Price:$6.96 [Box $139.20]
  • Humidor Age: 13.5 mo.
  • Box: 20
  • Other Vitolas: Robusto [5″x52], Sublime [6.5″x54], The 109 [6.25″x50], Dalia [6.75″x43], Corona [5 1/8″x44]

N O T E S

Smoke Time: 1:22
Draw
: Restricted
Construction: Firm overall, spongy around band; veiny; rough texture; cap ok; mottled russet hue; light oil; almost seamless; struggles to hold 1″ dirty- gray ash.
Aromas:

  • WrapperFloral
  • Foot – Rich chocolate fudge
  • Cold Draw – Muted, raisinesque

Tasting Notes:

  • Initial: Draw of sweet bread and toasted oats; toasty, woody foundation; lavish intonations of caramel, toasted almonds and cedar; Long, toasty finish with hints of black coffee; hints of vanilla and cinnamon on retro; smooth; finish becomes more nutty;
  • Transition: Dominant woody nucleus; well-balanced notes of black pepper, toast and cedar; retro hints of graham cracker; smoky persona; draw more earthy, but retains notes of sweetbread; uptick in spice on tongue.
  • Transition: Spice bomb; dark chocolate core; earthy layer and oak note son retro; finish remains toasty with notes. of cedar and espresso.

Complexity: Excellent
Balance: Excellent
Touch upsN/A
Combustion: Very good
Weaknesses: Draw could be better; filler bunched to one side causing uneven combustion and minor “canoeing” at times
Recommendation: Boxworthy

Recommendation scale:

  1. Go-to
  2. Boxworthy
  3. 5 packer
  4. Yard ‘gar
  5. NR [No Recommendation]

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