***I posted this for another board and figured I would post it here for our readers as well***

             It’s AJ Fernandez day on Cigar.com woohoo!  So in response to this wonderful event I was asked to review an AJ Fernandez blend.  Unfortunately, the only AJ blend that I have in my humi is the Crucible, which I have reviewed before, and love dearly.  For the most part, my humi’s are very specific to my tastes, and normally full-bodied Nicaraguan cigars are not my cup of tea.  However, as a budding cigar smoker, I enjoyed many of AJ’s blends, and while I do not smoke many of them now, I still tend to gravitate towards his maduro’s when I want a fuller experience.  Enter my man DDubridge, Drew, whom blasted my mailbox with an Oval Maduro to review for this fine occasion.  Now the setting is far from my normal reviewing experience, since I received it yesterday, and had a Tatuaje event to attend.  For that reason, I smoked the Oval Maduro second in my rotation while sitting in the B&M and conversing with friends.  I did grab a coffee porter halfway through as well, as my local shop has a local microbrewing association that shows up to all the events.  So my expectations for a detailed review were a bit muted given the situation, but I had to smoke it and get the review done for AJ Day damnit!

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Nicaragua, Honduras

Dry Draw: berries and spice

First Third: Right off the bat the Oval smacked me around with cocoa flavors through the nose and draw.  The type of flavor is very distinct, and I may look to revisit as the setting of this review did not allow me to concentrate.  Brown sugar notes swirled around my palate, along with nutty flavors that I found rather enjoyable.  The spices were distant, with an ever so slight tail on the retro.

Second Third: The spice was hitting the retro at this time, and never really overpowered me.  The cocoa flavors turned more to coffee at that point, along the lines of a smooth espresso.  Sugar continued to settle on my lips, and the Oval Maduro began to shine with a coffee porter I had grabbed form a micro brewer at the event.

 

Final Third: Retrohale has wonderful depth at this point, and due to the reviewing situation, I cannot describe it in detail.  I did detect some greener peppers from it at times, along with cocoa flavors.  The espresso dominated the final third, and the sugary finish hit all cylinders of the smoking experience.  I never got the berries I experienced on the dry draw, but my guess is my palate was a bit tired.

Construction: Damn ash fell on me twice since I smoked it ROTT =)

Final Thoughts:  I will smoke this again, and I am not a big fan of maduro. if I see them on sale, I will grab a fiver without hesitation. For me, this is a second or third smoke of the night if I am on a cigar binge really.  Oddly enough, while I rarely smoke maduro, and am not a fan of most AJ blends due to the power, for some reason I love his maduro’s on occasion, and the Oval Maduro kills it.  I would welcome a fiver in my humi, and will revisit again to see if I can detect the complexity that is there.  Given the reviewing situation, I feel like I left a ton of complexity on the table, and was not able to fully grasp what the Oval Maduro has to offer.  I would highly recommend this cigar to maduro fans, fans of AJ Fernandez cigars, and pretty much any cigar smoker other then the mild smokers or Cuban fanatics.  

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Comment by Matt Ross on May 23, 2014 at 6:46am

Have you had the original Oval? Where does that fit on your scale? I thought it was vastly superior to the Oval Maduro.

Comment by CRA_James on May 23, 2014 at 7:27am

I agree with Matt. The original was much better IMHO. Oddly enough, I even found the Connecticut more pleasant than the Maduro. (And I normally do not like the lighter wrappers, and I generally LOVE maduros.)

Comment by Catfishbluezz on May 23, 2014 at 9:07am

Ha!  I have not had an original in a long time.  Honestly, most of AJ's stuff gets tossed by me, and the original Oval would fall into that category. The regular SL maduro is not good, but the Oval Maduro is distinctly better.

I really liked it this cigar for a maduro lol 

Comment by CRA_James on May 23, 2014 at 10:01am

I like a lot of his current blends. I always have a couple of the MoW Side Projects lying around for that something different, and I have a couple of SL Ovals currently and a few Diesel's I use for handouts. I like the Bull right now though. It's a solid stick.

Comment by Catfishbluezz on May 23, 2014 at 10:14am

I cannot make it through 90% of his sticks, and rarely smoke maduro.  Funny thing is, most of his maduro's that fall in the medium range hit my palate right, like this one.  Otherwise, I never smoke AJ.

Comment by Charlie on May 23, 2014 at 10:18am

So I looked up this stick on 5 different websites to check on the wrapper tobacco and I found: Ecuadorian Habano Especial Maduro, Habano 2000 top primming, Mexican San Andres Negro, and finally what you wrote on your review Connecticut Broadleaf (these were all with the second maduro band).

Comment by Catfishbluezz on May 23, 2014 at 2:55pm
The oval has the Conny broadleaf as per several retailers. Their website says Maduro, nothing more. It get confused with the San Latano Maduro all the time.

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