Agile Cigar Reviews are cigar assessments where we use a lightweight, shorter format. These will never take the place of our comprehensive reviews. They are only used on blends we have previously assessed. This might be a blend we are rescoring or giving a score for the first time. It might be a blend we are looking at in a different size. Today we look at the AJ Fernandez Belles Artes Maduro Figurado, a 2020 TAA Exclusive. Belles Artes Maduro is a line we previously assessed in the Toro size back in October 2018.
Wrapper: Brazilian Mata Fina Maduro
Binder: San Andres Mexican
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez de Nicaragua S.A.
Figurado: 6 1/2 x 52 (Box Pressed)
For the 2020 TAA Exclusive Series, AJ Fernandez would introduce a new figurado size into the Belles Artes Maduro line. Belles Artes Maduro was introduced in 2018 as the second blend in the Belles Artes line. Belles Artes translates to “Fine Arts” in English. The Bellas Artes Maduro is highlighted by the use of a Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper, making it the first release where he would use Mata Fina for a wrapper. The figurado size is more of a box-pressed perfecto measuring 6 1/2 x 52. Today we take a closer look at this TAA release by AJ Fernandez.
TAA Exclusive Series consists of cigars made by leading manufacturers that are exclusively sold at TAA member retailers. The TAA is a small group of retailers. At press time the number of retailers is approximately 80. The TAA has defined itself as:
The Tobacconists’ Association of America, Ltd. is a trade organization established in 1968 by visionary retail tobacconists. By providing education, communication, research, advocacy, and member discount programs, The TAA works with our members and the industry they support to offer the tools and relationship building opportunities needed to maximize professionalism and success.
There are 12 cigars released for 2020 as a part of the TAA Exclusive Series:
- AJ Fernandez Belles Artes Maduro Figurado
- Brick House Ciento For Ciento 6 1/4 x 54 (Return from 2019)
- CAO Expedición
- CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18
- Encore 656 by E.P. Carrillo
- Kristoff San Andrés Box-Pressed Toro TAA 2020
- La Aurora TAA Exclusivo
- My Father The Judge TAA Exclusive
- Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo 2020
- Tatuaje TAA 2020
- Timeless TAA 2020 (Nat Sherman)
- Villiger TAA Exclusive 2020
There were four additional TAA Cigars that were announced but never released in 2020. While it was never explicitly stated, the reasons were most likely related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Crowned Heads release was effectively postponed indefinitely while the La Flor Dominicana and La Palina releases will be a part of the 2021 TAA Exclusive Series.
- Crowned Heads Lost Angel 2020
- La Flor Dominicana TAA 52nd Oro Tecera Edición 6 1/2 x 58 Chisel Natural
- La Flor Dominicana TAA 52nd Oro Tecera Edición 6 1/2 x 58 Chisel Maduro
- La Palina White Label 6 x 50
The Belles Artes Maduro Figurado is the second cigar released by AJ Fernandez Cigars for the TAA. At press time, AJ Fernandez Cigars did not announce a 2021 TAA release.
- 2019: AJ Fernandez New World Redondo
- 2020: AJ Fernandez Belles Artes Maduro Figurado
In addition to the Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper, the Belles Artes Maduro features a San Andres Mexican binder, and fillers from Nicaragua. The Belles Artes Maduro Figurado was presented in 20-count boxes with a total production of 1,000 boxes allocated for TAA retailers.
The Belles Artes Maduro TAA Exclusive started out with notes of coffee, citrus, and earth. Early on the coffee notes were the primary ones. As the cigar burned past the tapered footer area to the base, the coffee notes developed more mocha-like qualities (a combination of chocolate and coffee). By the latter part of the first third, the mocha notes switched to more of a coffee-centric flavor profile. A the end of the first third, some red pepper and earth emerged. The earth displaced the mocha during the second third of the smoking experience. There was a slight increase in the pepper during the second half. The second half of the cigar saw the earth notes in control, rounded out by the pepper, citrus, and residual mocha notes.
During the smoking experience, the strength and body started out medium in both strength and body. By the second half, both attributes progressed to medium to full territory. The strength and body balanced each other off with neither having an advantage. As for the burn and draw, both performed excellently.
I’ve always been a fan of the Belles Artes Maduro line, and the figurado size that was made for the TAA delivered a nice smoke. While I love the size and format of the figurado, I didn’t find that this cigar was better than the existing core line vitolas that are in the line. In the end, the Belles Artes Figurado is a cigar I would recommend to either an experienced cigar enthusiast or a novice cigar enthusiast looking for something in the “medium plus’ range. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again. However, if the TAA cigar is sitting next to the Toro or Short Churchill sizes, I’m still inclined to pick up or recommend one of those other sizes first.
Key Flavors: Mocha, Earth, Citrus, Pepper
Complexity: Medium Minus
Strength: Medium (First Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Body: : Medium (First Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Try a Sample
Previous Assessment: AJ Fernandez Belles Artes Maduro Figurado to be a Part of 2020 TAA Exclusive Series
News: My Father to Release The Judge TAA Exclusive
Brand Reference: My Father
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted