First, it might be good to put this AJ Fernandez Mayimbe review in context. If you enjoy Nicaraguan cigars that are strong, dependable and most importantly cheap, you probably have a few AJ Fernandez sticks in your humidor. AJF brands like Diesel and Man O’ War are sold at Cigars International online properties where the cigar’s already-competitive prices are often discounted.
Shop owners aren’t typically fond of stocking product that can be had super-cheap online. So not that long ago there was an absence of AJF product on B&M shelves despite some positive notices of the cigars online. Then came the San Lotano lines.
The SL is a competitively priced premium line. Those prices are a little more steady across retail channels both on a offline. This stability allowed the San Lotano to become the first AJF product we observed with widespread B&M presence. San Lotano has been a success for a couple years and the line has expanded. Pinolero is the second AJF brand widely carried outside of CI.
Enthusiasts are now accustomed to seeing an array of AJ’s product sitting literally and figuratively alongside that of the most respected Nica producers like DPG, Padron, Oliva and others. Now the next step in AJF brand maturation must be a foray into limited-edition territory, which brings us to Mayimbe.
Mayimbe is that small-volume release with the “special” tobacco story so many premium producers issue. The price is one most enthusiasts will associate with super-premium, often limited cigars. On one hand, it makes sense for AJ Fernandez to bring a super premium to market and round out his B&M facings. Despite the acceptance of San Lotano, knowledgable enthusiasts familiar with the entire Fernandez catalog may feel skittish about dropping fifteen bucks on a stick produced by the makers of Unholy Cocktail et al.
That’s Enough background. Let’s get to the AJ Fernandez Mayimbe review already!
Presentation & Pre-Light
From a visual perspective the Mayimbe’s PA broadleaf wrapper shares a rustic, gritty texture with what we assume is the genetically and agriculturally similar CT broadleaf. The color is dark with a brown, red-ish hue that you don’t see in a typical CT leaf. Cigars with a red or orange hue are visually interesting, reminiscent of cuban smokes.
The Mayimbe band is a major disappointment for a cigar in this price range. High-gloss, magazine-cover stock combined with large-dot printing is a visual pet peeve. Gradients have a drug-store comic look underneath a bawdy shine that washes the design in a faux-elegance.
Nice and open is the draw we prefer and exactly what the AJ Fernandez Mayimbe provides. Smoke volume starts off a touch too airy and the ash immediately blooms outward more than any cigar in recent memory. It’s not a great look and it continues for the entirety of the experience.
Smoke production improves as the cigar develops, never quite getting to our preferred volume. There’s also a wavy burn line that’s pronounced, but not troublesome enough to require touch ups.
None of the Mayimbe’s combustion issues are enough to seriously impact the experience in a negative way. We just need something more from the burn before describing it as a strength of the experience.
During the first third, the Mayimbe throws a full-strength punch. Power is the sum essence of these first puffs that somehow manage not to be crass or over the top. There’s a harshness to many full bodied AJ Fernandez sticks that’s present in the Mayimbe. However, this cigar rounds the harshness out with more flavor depth.
Through the middle third, the Mayimbe remains quite strong. Retrohales become too harsh, and a dry, gritty sensation grows on the palate. Mineral flavors appear in the core while the finish is dominated by a numbing spice.
By the final third, all attempts to retrohale are abandoned. When expelled through the mouth, the experience is also remarkably bold and definitely more enoyable. Some sweet and nutty undertones emerge gently during the finish.
This is a very strong cigar. The pepper spice is almost singular in the flavor core and the finish. We can’t remember smoking a stick this strong since the Tatuaje Apocalypse. Of the two, we prefer the Tat as it presents a wider range of flavors. That’s a completely price agnostic judgement btw.
The Mayimbe is not a bad cigar. We would definitely smoke one again and enjoy it if the setting was right for such a strong cigar. The cigar has some satisfying elements and it may age well. Unfortunately, it’s a small range of hardcore extra-full smokers that we can safely recommend this to.
Brand: AJ Fernandez
Vitola Reviewed: Torpedo
Other Available Vitolas: Robusto (5×56), Toro (6×56), Churchill (7×56)
Wrapper: PA Broadleaf
Filler: Nicaragua, Honduras
Length: 6.25″ (see notes)
Factory / Country of Origin: Tabacalera Fernandez – Esteli Nicaragua
Release Type: Limited
Release Date: September, 2013
Release Qty: 25,000 (2,500 boxes of 10)
Price Paid: $0 (see notes)
Expect to Pay: MSRP unless this limited release moves extremely slow, in which case we would expect online discounting and auction deals to start appearing.
Collectability: Very low to none at all. 25,000 is a small run, but this is not a manufacturer that enthusiasts collect.
Who It’s For: Full-body/strength smokers. If you don’t enjoy a good-sized hit to your palate and your bloodstream, this is not a cigar to mess with. For you hearty smokers that don’t mind experimenting with a $15 purchase, the Mayimbe could be an interesting and rewarding experience.
Official Site: AJFernandezcigars.com
• This cigar is referred to as “El Mayimbe” in some places, but “Mayimbe” is used on AJF’s official website, so we went with that.
• Speaking of the AJF website, the size listed for this cigar is 5”. We didn’t measure before we smoked our Mayimbe, but it was at least 6” and probably closer to the traditional 6.25 torpedo length. It’s strange how essential facts like this are often wrong on cigar company’s official websites.
• The band design and printing comments in this and many HLC reviews are extremely subjective. Some enthusiasts claim cigar presentation is of very little or no importance to the experience. We disagree not just on the basis of our own preferences. If people generally didn’t pay intense attention to and make purchase decisions based on design and visual presentation of products for which visuals have zero impact on functionality, then massive segments of the marketing and design industries wouldn’t exist. Apple and Ferrari for example have built historic consumer brands in large part by making products that look better than those of their competition.
• Price doesn’t factor in to our rating score, but it does impact our buying decisions/recommendations and the Mayimbe would only join our regular extra-full rotation if the price were lower.
• Mayimbe boxes all have “2013 Edition” written on the cover. Seems like a decent clue that a follow up or annual release could appear, especially if this one does well.
• Other reviewers whose opinions we watch and respect generally enjoyed the Mayimbe more than us. Those reviewers tasted the robusto. Maybe the Torpedo isn’t the best format for this blend?
• Our Mayimbe samples were “thrown in” with a large purchase made at a local shop. So while we didn’t pay the cigars sampled in this review, it wouldn’t be exactly correct to call them free or gifts. At the B&M’s we frequent, staff often throw in extra sticks this way to say thanks for the business.