Miami, FL, January 23rd, 2023– Artesano Del Tobacco and co are so excited and proud to share with you the creation of EL Pulpo Cigars which means “The octopus” in english. This project began back in 2016. After working on this project we contact AJ Fernandez to help us create the EL Pulpo cigars. AJ Fernandez used different blending techniques, fermentation ,and aging process that led to the creation of the EL Pulpo cigars . EL Pulpo cigars will be Packaged in Ten-count boxes the cigars will come in box-pressed sizes: Robusto, Toro, and Belicoso.
We will start shipping EL Pulpo Cigars to Cigar Lounges in Mid February 2023. “We wanted a blend that fits people palate the way an octopus fits in different shapes, spaces and becomes that shape , we wanted a blend that becomes hard for any smoker to putdown once they light up like an octopus that doesn’t let go of it’s pray, once again AJ Fernandez has done an amazing job creating EL Pulpo Cigars We couldn’t be more satisfied with the finished product and cannot wait for everyone to try it. As they say, ‘good things come to those who wait’ and this statement continues to ring true with the EL Pulpo Cigars. “- Billy & Gus of Artesano Del Tobacco
As with all Artesano Del Tobacco cigars, The El Pulpo cigars is exclusively manufactured and distributed by AJ Fernandez Company
Blend and origin: Wrapper: Mexican San Andreas Maduro Binder: Nicaraguan (AJ Fernandez farms) Filler: Nicaraguan ( AJ Fernandez farms) Factory: San Lotano
Vitolas Retail Price Robusto Grande: 5 X 56 $15.00 Toro Grande: 6 X 56 $16.00 Belicoso Grande: 5.75 X 58. $17.00
Through a fusion of inherited techniques and patience, AJ has developed proprietary tobacco grown from the most prized seeds harvested exclusively on his family farms. Perhaps the most essential quality of an AJ Fernandez cigar is not tangible. It is passion and discipline that motivates AJ to produce world renown premium cigars. The motivation that flows and radiates from AJ are contagious and palatable throughout all the artisans who hone their craft and skills under his hands-on tutelage throughout Nicaragua. All these attributes stem from humble beginnings in San Luis, Pinar del Rio, Cuba where the Fernandez family heritage began.
If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Frank Santos at 786.800.5329 or email frankie@AJFcigars.com. email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Luxury Cigar Club (LCC) is a monthly cigar subscription service for the smoker, seeker, and collector of fine, rare, and boutique cigars and cigar brands. The two owners, Chris and Ben, pride themselves on their work ethic, superb customer service, and overall integrity. Because of these traits, they have created and maintained a strong bond with many cigar companies.
One of these cigar brands is Artesano del Tobacco, the maker of Viva La Vida, whose been here since the beginning. Because of this relationship, LCC was the first company to feature Viva La Vida in their subscription box. They were also the first company to obtain an exclusive vitola of Viva La Vida. To top it all off, they became the first company to create LCCs very first cigar – Choshi.
Cigar Reviewed: Choshi
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
Blind Review: Choshi by Luxury Cigar Club
Appearance & Construction
The habano wrapper is quite oily, giving it a darker look than it otherwise might have. Two visible veins run down on the side of the cigar. The filler tobacco fills the cigar to the brim without it feeling dense.
Flavor & Smoke Characteristics
There is a scent of chocolate and raisin coming off the wrapper. When I trace my nose down to the foot of the cigar, I get a scent of dry tart stone fruits and old books. I slowly insert the head between my Xikar XO cutter – just enough to shave off the cap. I then take a cold draw and taste creamy cocoa, tree bark, dry hay, and a slight sweetness on the finish; pepper spice is starting to settle on my tongue and lips.
After introducing some flame to the cigar, I take my first draw and instantly my senses are awake. The smoke itself is creamy, tagging along with notes of dark cocoa, caramel, cedar-wood, and red pepper spice. To conclude the whole experience, sweet chocolate lingers on my palate. The retrohale acts on its own contrasting with the flavors on the palate: citrusy berry, cedar-wood, and an ample amount of red pepper spice.
So far, the only negative thing I can say about this cigar is the uneven burn line. However, I have to mention that I am smoking the cigar outside on a cool early winter morning which can be a factor in the issue. With that being said, the ash is stacking evenly, and the cigar produces a good amount of smoke.
Arriving at the second third, I notice two flavors become MIA: cocoa and spice. The character of the smoke becomes even creamier, and I get flavors of pistachio, cedar-wood, dry hay, tan leather, and caramel. On the retrohale, I’m tasting a little floral with almond and warm baking spice.
I have to restrain myself from constantly puffing on the cigar, hoping slowing down would fix the burn line issue. Even so, one side is in a constant battle with the other, but not bad enough for me to intervene with my lighter.
As I get to the final third, the battle of the burn line concludes, and the cigar evens itself out. To my surprise, the flavor keeps evolving, and embraces me with flavors of creamy oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, cedar-wood, and sugar in the raw. This time, the retrohale amplifies the flavors with cedar-wood, roasted peanut shell, and baking spice. I continuously drown myself with the aforementioned flavors, hoping the next puff would not be the last one. I knew I was on my final puff when my fingers got pricked by a burning sensation.
Billy and Gus (Artesano del Tobacco) hit another home run with Choshi. The transition from a heavier profile like cocoa and leather to a lighter one with almonds and sunflower seeds is simply brilliant. And all the while carried by a sugary sweet finish on the palate. The complexity was very engaging and kept me on the edge of my seat. Unfortunately, the burn line had a negative impact on my overall experience. As mentioned however, this may have been affected by outside elements. Overall, I would recommend this cigar to anyone interested in experiencing bold flavor, transitions, complexity, balanced profile, or anyone wanting to smoke a great cigar.
Ever since my first encounter with them at their launch event at The Carnegie Club back in March 2019, I’ve always had Viva La Vida from Artesano del Tobacco stocked in my humidor. Since then, I have gone through countless boxes in different vitolas, including their follow-up launches of the Jester, lounge exclusives, and club exclusive.
In April of 2020, Billy and Gus Fakih released a line paying homage to the first 500 cigar lounges and patrons whom they believed are the core supporters of the Viva La Vida cigar, the Club 500. I had the good luck of unknowingly blind reviewing this cigar. Read on.
Cigar Reviewed: Viva la Vida Club 500
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro
Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo 99 & Criollo 98
Size: 6″x60 (Box Pressed)
Appearance & Construction
The dark Oscuro wrapper gives off a red hue under the sunlight. The box-pressed cigar feels heavy and sturdy as I’m squeezing it between my fingers. My fingers become oily from holding onto the cigar for an extended amount of time. I see two minor veins, but it doesn’t hurt the construction. The box-press has leveled all sides evenly. Visually, this cigar is stunning; it reminds me of a chocolate bar.
Flavor & Smoke Characteristics
The wrapper gives off a nutty and vanilla scent. At the foot, the cigar delivers a mixture of apricot, hay, and pepper spice. I shave off the cap and take a cold draw. The flavors are a little muted; a hint of sweetness, dark leather, and cayenne pepper murmur at me. Slowly toasting the foot, a swirl of white smoke spirals around my head, giving off a scent of warm baking spices as they pass by my nose.
An abundance of velvety smoke glides past my palate as I puff on the cigar and drown myself in flavors of roasted peanut shell, barnyard, light leather, tree bark, vanilla, and cayenne pepper spice. I proceed to retrohale the next puff and taste citrus fruits, hay, vanilla, and a sizzling sensation of warm baking spice, only to disappear the second it exits my nose.
Half-way past the first third, the cigar becomes a chocolate bomb: creamy and sweet milk chocolate with light leather and a taste reminding me of a summer breeze. As the flavor disperses, red pepper spice lingers behind, playing punching bag with my uvula. A stream of warm smoke rushes through my nasal path, carrying vanilla, sunflower seeds, barnyard hay, and baking spice.
The flavors continue to enrich themselves as I reach the second third. The sweet and creamy milk chocolate intensifies along with roasted peanut, straw hay, and paprika spice with a citrus aftertaste. Retrohale is very saporous: I taste light leather, dry apricot, roasted peanut, and cinnamon spice. At this point, I feel like I am smoking a cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate.
As if the cigar knows what I was thinking, the flavor profile adjusts itself one last time for the big finale. Right before the sweet and creamy flavor overwhelm my taste buds, honey roasted peanut, hay, and cinnamon spice became the dominant flavors. I thought I was smoking an entirely different cigar. A great ending.
Billy and Gus hit another home run with the Viva La Vida Club 500. The construction was near perfection. The smoke was complex and well balanced with every shift in the flavor profile. I can’t wait to see what Artesano Del Tobacco has in store for us in the future.
Miami, FL, September 12, 2019– AJ Fernandez will not only manufacture Viva La Vida cigars, but also distribute the brand as well. Former New York City cigar retailers Billy and Gus Fakih released the brand in March and have now agreed to use AJ Fernandez’ sales force across the country. Billy and Gus will actively remain running daily operations which includes store visits, events and overall brand management.
Viva La Vida comes in five sizes, Robusto, Toro, Torpedo, Gran Toro and Diadema Fina. The cigars range in price from $10.50 to $14.50 before taxes.
“I have known Billy and Gus since I launched the San Lotano brand,” says A.J. Fernandez, “and they were one of the first and best supporters while operating the Cigar Inn in New York City. We maintained a great relationship since then, after they sold the store. I’m proud to not only call them business associates but great friends as well.”
Viva La Vida is draped by a silky smooth Habano Oscuro 2000 wrapper, which is accentuated by a Corojo 99 binder and Criollo 98 filler tobaccos, all from AJ’s farms in Nicaragua.
Billy Fakih thus explains “Our friendship with Abdel started from the early years of San Lotano cigars, when he visited our cigar shop ‘New York Cigar Inn’ in Manhattan back in 2010. The friendship grew throughout the years and it was based on a simple thing called trust. What attracted us to Abdel was not only the great cigars he blends and creates, but also how loyal, humble and disciplined he is which reflects in his cigars.
Gus Fakih adds “The relationship we created with AJ on a business and a personal level is special, and I’m so proud and excited to call AJ a real brother and a humble human, down to earth with a big heart, a great addition to our family.
Looking forward to growing our business relationship to much higher levels with one of the best in the industry.”
Through a fusion of inherited techniques and learned patience, AJ has developed proprietary tobacco grown from the most prized seeds harvested exclusively on his family farms. Perhaps the most essential quality of an AJ Fernandez cigar is not tangible. It is passion and discipline that motivates AJ to produce world renown premium cigars. The motivation that flows and radiates from AJ are contagious and palatable throughout all the artisans who hone their craft and skills under his hands-on tutelage throughout Nicaragua. All these attributes stem from humble beginnings in San Luis, Pinar del Rio, Cuba where the Fernandez family heritage began.
# # #
If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Frank Santos at 786.800.5329 or email Frankie@AJFcigars.com.
“Family” is a cherished value in the world of cigars. Families preserve the hard work that the founder put into building the business, and give next generation an opportunity to leave their mark. Thus, as a family member of a cigar family, you need to pick something to learn be it operations, sales, blending, or farming. The process is arduous, process laden and handling all of the elements is tough! Given the importance of family to the industry, it makes sense that brothers Billy and Gus Fakih entered the cigar industry together with the launch of Artesano Del Tobacco.
The two started their journey into cigars back in 1990 down in Greenwich Village with a store called Zig Zag. I used to walk through Washington Square Park in 1990 and I can assure you Zig Zag was a good name choice for a tobacconist located at the convoluted intersection that was W4th and 6th Ave.
Locals found in the brothers an inviting and knowledgeable entryway into cigars, which at the time had taken off like a rocket nationwide. The Fakih’s immediately bred loyalty from customers, providing exceptional product selection and a high-level retail experience.
A few decades later, the two brothers, moved uptown and opened Cigar Inn on 71st street with their brother Bass. Under the management of Billy, Bass, and Gus, the lounge took off. It was so successful, in fact, that the brothers soon opened another location on 54th st. Both these locations gave smokers in these heavy residential areas access to an upscale but inviting environment that appealed to high rolling businessmen, blue collar workers, and retirees all the same. The moment a customer walked through the doors, staff was ready to help them find that genuine love of cigars and not feel the wall of snobbery that other Manhattan stores might exude.
I remember thinking that they could have added another 5000 feet to the lounge after the popularity soared even further. A few years later, the brothers sold the lounges to Casa de Montecristo for an undisclosed amount, and it seemed like the brothers were out of the industry for good.
And really, you might expect anyone to lose that passion for the industry even after a lot of success. But the Fakihs continued to love both the business and the cigar smokers themselves. Thus, more than two decades after opening their first shop, Billy and Gus are at the helm of Artesano Del Tobacco and in turn the inaugural blend Viva la Vida which is a combined effort by the brothers and the esteemed AJ Fernandez.
The Viva La Vida blend launched in New York City at The Carnegie Club on March 14th. Matthias Clock, Founder of Fine Tobacco NYC, had hinted to me how great this cigar and the night was going to be (reviewed by him for this site here). Who could have known how right he was! I have never seen a first-offering cigar received with as much love as the Viva La Vida.
Viva La Vida is rolled in five sizes, from the standard robusto up to a limited edition diadema size. It’s a full-flavored, medium-bodied Nicaraguan puro made with a combination of a Habano Oscuro 2000 wrapper, Criojo 99 binder, and Criojo 98 filler. All are chosen from Tabacalera Fernandez by the Fakih’s and Fernandez.
The tobacco has a fantastic taste, exuding incredible flavors and quickly making loyal fans. Remember when you first started smoking and you found that perfect place to finally light up and half way through you said, “this is the life.” You never stopped loving that cigar…right? This is that cigar. I don’t want to ever catch myself saying anything like this but I will. This is a cigar I would choose if I was forced to choose only one cigar to smoke for the rest of my life. Complex yet even, flavorful but not horribly spiced up. There are only a couple of others out there and you can feel free to message me on Facebook for that list.
Back to Billy and Gus. I think their path to blending makes sense. After years in the business, they have all the relationships and they know what they love. Working with A.J. was a brilliant move, too. He would never let a blend of his go down a rabbit hole, and his generosity as a craftsman shows in how damn good the cigar is.
There is one final aspect about the Brothers Fakih that I admire: they are real New Yorkers. They live in my home boro of Queens (also home to the worst airport in NYC!), and their personalities are warm and genuine just like all New Yorkers. Also, they are in this to win it. Class and patience wins the race in the cigar world and they exude both.
My advice? Get your hands on several of these (one is not enough, you’ll see). I wouldn’t be surprised if, given the hype, this cigar becomes much more scarce soon.