Pinolero Maduro by A.J. Fernandez

At the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show, A.J. Fernandez Cigars introduced its second blend in its Pinolero line.  As the name indicates, the Pinolero Maduro brings a maduro wrapper offering into the line. The Pinolero was introduced the prior year in a sun grown Nicaraguan wrapper offering.  That original Pinolero brought somewhat of a Cubanesque quality into A.J. Fernandez’s lines.  That cigar ended up as our #20 Cigar for 2012. With the Pinolero Maduro, this is going to deliver a very different experience than the sun grown.  However, it is not going to come up short.  While much attention around A.J. Fernandez in 2013 fell on the limited edition El Mayimbe, it is the Pinolero Maduro which shined even brighter.  This is an excellent cigar to be on the look out for.

In describing the Pinolero line, the company explains in their marketing material  “Pinolero is A.J.’s long awaited addition to the San Lotano family of cigars.  Pinolero – a colloquial term for ‘local’ – features the finest tobaccos from diverse regions of Nicaragua.”

Without further ado, let’s break down the Pinolero Maduro and see what this cigar brings to the table:

Blend Profile

The Pinolero Maduro has similar binder and filler components to the original Pinolero, however there is no official word if they are identical.  The big change in the blend profile is the “A.J. Fernandez Maduro” wrapper on this blend.

Wrapper: A.J. Fernandez Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Cuban Seed Nicaragua and Fernandez Family Secret

Vitolas Available

The Pinolero Maduro is available in the same six sizes as the Sun Grown Pinolero.  The cigars are packaged 20 per box.

Corona: 5 x 42
Robusto: 5 x 52
Figuardo: 5 1/4 x 54
Toro: 6 x 52
Gran Toro: 6 x 60
Churchill: 7 x 52


For this cigar experience, I smoked the Pinolero Maduro in the Toro size.  The maduro wrapper has a rich coffee bean color.  I didn’t feel the wrapper had an oily complexion.  There are some visible wrapper seams and some visible veins on the surface.

The band is very similar to the original Pinolero.  It contains a multi-colored mural design on a pale yellow background.  Across the top of the band is says “PINOLERO” in black font with gold trim. The lower portion of the band is black with the text “By A.J. Fernandez” in gold font.

Some of the newer A.J. Fernandez cigars are now shipping with a footer band.  This is a black band with the “AJF” logo on it.  The cigars smoked for this assessment did not contain this band.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

As I normally do, I kicked things off for my cigar experience of the Pinolero Maduro Toro with a straight cut.  Once the cap was clipped, I moved on the pre-light draw phase.  The dry draw provided a mix of mocha, as well as some mild citrus and spice notes.  Overall, I considered the pre-light draw to the Pinolero Maduro to be very good.  At this point, I was ready to light up the Pinolero Maduro and see what the smoking phase would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

The start to the Pinolero Maduro provided a mix of mocha and red pepper notes.  There was a slight citrus note in the background that gave this cigar a little sweetness.  The mocha notes moved to the forefront early on.  The red pepper was more of a secondary note and the citrus was even more distant as a tertiary note.  The finish had a bit of a creamy undertone to it as well. Meanwhile the red pepper was prominent on the retro-hale and remained that way throughout the cigar experience.

In the second third, some earth notes emerged with the mocha in the forefront.  The red pepper was still secondary.  The citrus sweetness was even more distant.  The cream notes were also still present on the finish.  As the Pinolero Maduro advanced to the second half, the red pepper started to emerge on the after-draw and could be detected on the finish as well.

In the last third, the red pepper and earth notes became the primary flavors.  The mocha notes diminished to a secondary flavor.  The creamy undertone on the finish remained until the end. While there was an increase in spice toward the end, the spice was not overwhelming at the close of the cigar. The resulting nub was cool in temperature, but soft to the touch.

Burn and Draw

When it comes to burn and draw, the Pinolero Maduro gets high marks.  Maintaining a sharp burn from start to finish was low maintenance as the Pinolero Maduro required minimal touch-ups.  The resulting ash was tight and firm with almost a silvery color.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

Burn of the Pinolero Maduro

The draw was outstanding as well.  It was not too tight and not too loose.  It made the Pinolero Maduro also low maintenance in this department.

Strength and Body

The Pinolero Maduro Toro is going to be a cigar that has some pop to it.  The cigar starts out medium to full strength.  The strength of this cigar is going to slowly build and by the last third, the Pinolero Maduro is at full strength.  A side note – I also smoked a Pinolero Maduro Robusto and found it to be stronger than the toro – operating at full strength for a much longer period.

The flavors also build up with the Pinolero Maduro Toro.  This cigar starts out medium-bodied.  In the second half, the flavors progressed to medium to full-bodied.  By the end of the cigar, I felt the flavors weighing heavy on my pallet – making for a full-bodied smoke.

In terms of strength versus body, it seemed like the strength had a slight edge from start to finish. However, this blend works fine and I would not categorize this as a negative.

Final Thoughts

While I’ve smoked more of the original Pinolero, I can safely say that while that is an excellent cigar, the maduro blend is even better.  When looking across A.J. Fernandez’s brick and mortar-focused lines (San Lotano, Pinolero, and El Mayimbe), I definitely rank the Pinolero as the top maduro the company has released to date.  This cigar has a nice mix of balanced flavors – and it brings a little kick to it from a strength perspective.  I am curious how much this cigar will mellow over time.   Given it is a fuller cigar, this is probably a cigar that I would recommend to a more experienced cigar enthusiast.  As for myself, this is easy worth a box purchase – and one I would smoke again.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium to Full (1st 2/3), Full (last third)
Body Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half), Full (at the end)
Finish: Good
Assessment: 4.0 – Box Worthy 
Score: 93
Price: ~$9.30
Source: Purchaaed
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