A.J. Fernandez Last Call Habano Flaquitas

I don’t know about you, but when I hear those dreaded words, “last call!”, it suddenly hits me that the fun is coming to an untimely end. Like the waning hours of a spectacular vacation or the final few minutes of a favorite movie, the reality sets in that it’s time to get back to that thing called life. Which is why before we bid a fond farewell to our enjoyable evening and guests, we often are busily making plans for the next good time, the very anticipation of which helps us set a course through our daily grind.

So, when I first heard that A.J. Fernandez was creating a cigar called Last Call I thought to myself, ‘why choose a name that represents the end of something’?  Why not something like “Till next time” or “Hey, we gotta do this again soon”? I know that’s silly, but in fact, the line was inspired by what came to be known as “the final smoke of the night” to round out evenings AJ would spend watching Monday and Thursday NFL games with friends and guests. Hey, while there’s some truth that all good things must come to an end, that doesn’t mean the air of finality has to really suck.

Last Call also began life as a small project, a habano rosado-wrapped cigar based on one of AJ’s personal blends that would be made in small batches and reserved only for guests lucky enough to enjoy a formal tour of Fernandez’s Nicaraguan estate and factory. Luckily, it was decided that Last Call would be put into regular production and in early 2016, a single robusto vitola began shipping to retailers as a brick and mortar exclusive. The line has since grown to include 5 vitolas and the addition of a maduro all while this $5 cigar with the buzzkill name has garnered some healthy praise, including a 93 rating from Cigar Aficionado.

Our Flaquitas, or loosely translated, “skinny one”, is a corona sized cigar that flaunts an elegant torpedo shape with an acute tapered cap. The Rosado skin provides a reddish hue to the rich, toffee coloring. With a veiny exterior and a light coating of oil, the roll appears near seamless. The body has some give but is not spongy and the business end features a shaggy foot for an easy light and a brief opportunity to taste that amazing wrapper. Aromas aren’t strong, but there’s no mistaking the scintillating creaminess of milk chocolate. The cold draw is open but with moderate resistance, a minor annoyance with which some may take issue.

From the first taste of the smoldering wrapper, the rich, sweet nuttiness of the draw opens for a warm, toasty profile of vanilla, savory black pepper and sweet caramelcorn. There’s a noticeable confectionery layer of candied nuts on the palate after a sweet, toasty finish before settling into a nutty foundation shoring up intonations of nougat, dried berries and a light touch of oak. Transitions are less complex, but a persistent nutty core complements more robust profiles of black coffee, kettle corn and oak with a satisfying epilogue of peanuts, creamy nougat and dark roasted coffee. It remains light on the palate for much of the hour-long smoke.

The partially open draw is soon lost in the dreamy, delicious profiles. Combustion is near flawless and while the cigar struggles to hold an appreciable ash early on, the near white color provides a cool aesthetic. The recipe of this cigar simply delivers ridiculous flavors and textures the meld so well together you begin to understand why you wouldn’t mind calling it a night with a cigar this enjoyable. Did I mention this cigar is just $5 and some change? It may be true that all good things must come to an end, but with Last Call you may no longer care, perhaps even finding yourself reveling in anticipation of your next ‘last call’, or better yet, ‘until we meet again.’ – In Fumo Pax!

Recommendation: Go To

Did you Know: Playing into the “last call” theme, the sizes of the cigars are purposely smallish, from 3 ½” to 6” long and with ring gauges measuring 46 to 52.

  • Profile: Med-Full
  • Vitola: Figurado
  • Length / Ring: 6.0″ x 44
  • Purchased: Provided by AJF
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado
  • Binder: Nicaraguan
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Production: Tabacalera Fernandez, Estelí
  • Blade: Xikar xi1
  • Fire: Colibri Firebird
  • Price Paid: $5.75 [Box $143.65]
  • Humidor Age: 11 mo.
  • Box: 25
  • Other Vitolas: Chiquitas [3 ½”x50], Corticas [4″x52], Geniales [4 ½”x48], Pequeñas [5″x46]

N O T E S

Smoke Time: 1:04
Draw
: Open, moderate resistance
Construction: Light oil; nice cap and torpedo treatment; elegant; veiny; shaggy foot; evenly firm but not hard; reddish, toffee coloring; struggles to hold 1″ ash (white)
Aromas:

  • WrapperMilk chocolate
  • Foot – Same as above

Tasting Notes:

  • Initial: Sweet, toasty, rich and nutty draw; intonations of caramelcorn, vanilla, black pepper leaving a layer of candied nuts on the palate; very light on palate; the crisp finish is toasty and sweet with a tickle of dry sherry accents at the back of the palate; settles into spicy, nutty core with retro notes of nougat, berries and light oak.
  • Transition: Warm, rich nutty profile; thicker body and edgier; intonations of peanuts, kettle corn with black pepper notes on palate; spicy, black coffee finish; bump in overall spice; lacks initial complexity, but is still delicious.
  • Transition: Approaching full body; nutty profile persists; creamy, nougat intonations return with residual peanut notes; bold finish of dark roasted coffee with a smattering of wood; light layer of charred wood on palate; wraps things up with a serious dose of toast, cedar and spices.

Complexity: Outstanding
Balance: Excellent
Touch upsN/A
Combustion: Flawless
Weaknesses: Weak ash initially; draw could be better.
Recommendation: Go To

Recommendation scale:

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

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