The Tabernacle by Foundation Cigars

I initially wanted to start this review with information taken from the Foundation website but this information is very easily accessible with a quick click here You can find out all of the info behind this masterful blend. Nick Melillo is the man behind Foundation Cigars and is known as the “Chief of the Broadleafs” and for good reason. Being from New Haven Connecticut and working with farmers there for over 10 years, in his words “Broadleaf is more than tobacco for me. It is something sacred.”
You may recognize the name from many of the top selling Drew Estate cigars. Nick is the man behind those masterful combinations. Liga No 9, Dirty Rat, Nica Rustica, Feral Flying Pig, etc… Plain and simple, the man is one of the top blenders in the world.
I walked into Famous Smoke Shop a few weeks back and asked one of the guys I know there to pick out a nice quick smoke that wouldn’t cost me a fortune. I wanted something I could easily smoke in under or right at 1 hour in the very cold temps we have here in Pa. He picked out the Charter Oaks by Foundation for me and I was blown away. For a petite corona under $5.00 you simply can’t beat it. Of course this got me interested in learning more about the company, as I always try to do, and I found out why this cigar was so good. When I realized who was behind the brand, I felt like an idiot for not picking up the Tabernacle and the El Guegurnse “The Wise Man” (Pronounced El When When Say). So on the bright side, I made another road trip to Famous. When life hands you lemons…
Now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s get down to why you are reading this page shall we?
The Tabernacle Corona- 5 1/4 x 46 Price $9.00
This work of art features Honduras (Jamastran Valley) Nicaragua (Esteli & Jalapa Valley) fillers, a Mexican San Andres binder, and wrapped in a beautiful Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.
This is a very dark chocolate wrapper that really stands out against the very unique and elegant black and gold band with super high quality printing. This thing screams elegance and produces notes of rich dark chocolate, almost espresso like, earth and pepper from the broadleaf wrapper. I pick up more dark chocolate (cocoa), a woodsy cedar, earth and pepper from the foot. I decided on a straight guillotine cut and the cold draw reveals a sweet blend of cedar, pepper and earthy notes. The draw offers some resistance. The wrapper is rolled very nicely with very tight seams. It feels firm and solid which explains the resistance on the draw.
I used regular wooden matches to get things going and immediately I pick the familiar cedar and a very smooth cocoa blend. The pepper makes an appearance about a quarter of an inch into it. It blends very nicely with the cedar and the sweetness. The blend is very good and I am enjoying this one a lot. The draw is still a little tight but not bad. It is producing some nice smoke. The ash is holding very tight and is white in color. At the end of the first third, the pepper fades a bit and the dark chocolate and earth notes come to the forefront.
The second third brings more of the same and I am good with that. No huge jumps in flavors moving through the transition. As I get more into the halfway point the full flavor of the blend comes together very nicely. The cedar, earth, pepper and cocoa really pull together and I am reminded of other cigars that utilize tobacco from the Jamastran Valley. The spice of the San Andreas really starts to come through but never enough to overpower the flavor profile.
(Sorry for the lighting but it is under flood lights around my house) The final third is a continuation of the first 2 thirds. Sweet cedar, cocoa, pepper and earth close this cigar out. The draw remained a little tight throughout but helped to extend the burn time to 1 hour 40 minutes. I was outside in a damp, freezing rain (light drizzle) about 38 degrees for the first half of this cigar like a crazy person grilling steaks and burgers. Dedication is something I pride myself on. Lol. The ash held very tight for most of each third and the burn was a little uneven but this is due to the harsh outside conditions and breeze. When I went into my heated garage, it evened out very nicely.
Overall thoughts. This cigar was delicious. Almost dessert like in a sense. The rich dark chocolate mixed with the sweet cedar wood profile is very good and hard to put down. The strength is medium moving into full towards the end but never got harsh or bitter. It certainly ramped up towards the end and I was warned of that prior to having it so I was prepared. The flavor profile is full for sure.
The overall look to this cigar is simply elegant, the construction is great, the draw was a little tight for my personal liking but not bad, the burn was great, the ash held tight, and the flavor was just fantastic. This is an immediate box worthy cigar for me and I would put this into my rotation today. They come in 6 sizes and in boxes of 24 with the exception of the Lancero which comes in a box of 13. This is the second cigar I have tried by Foundation and I can say that I am more than impressed and I am a fan of Foundation Cigars. The hype behind this one was very well deserved which is rare these days. I highly recommend this cigar.
I am going to start adding this declaimer here at the bottom in response to internet warriors that are cowards and hide behind the safety of their computer screen in mom’s basement in their underoos and find ways to try and troll people. If you met them in the streets they would want to buy you a cigar or if confronted, piss themselves. Either way, the more I thought about doing this or not, I decided it is actually a great addition to let people know that I am not being paid, or compensated by these companies to promote their product. I offer EVERYONE the same opportunity after EACH review to leave their own comments, thoughts, AND REVIEWS. No one has sent me one so I can’t post what I don’t have but I have made that offer since day 1. Will their review differ from mine? I certainly hope the hell so. I also don’t block people comments. I approve all of them regardless of content. People can disagree with my review, ultimately I am telling you what I experienced, not what you are going to experience. I would imagine your taste will be different than mine. Sorry for the rant, just felt like I needed to explain that some.
Leave your comments, thoughts and reviews here and as always, long ashes and full glasses friends. Peace!
“This cigar was purchased by me for the purpose of my enjoyment. I did the review on my own for the purpose of providing a true, honest opinion on the product. I am under no obligation to provide favorable reviews for this product and receive no compensation for doing so.” Cigar Hawk
P.S. If it wasn’t great, you would read that also. I just don’t bash peoples work, I can do it tactfully.


A great find…for a great price!


I stopped by Famous Smoke Shop the other day to pick up some accessories and while I was there I picked up a few cigars that I hadn’t tried before and some that I had tried but wanted different sizes. I came across the Charter Oaks Petite Corona by Foundation Cigars.

“Charter Oak cigars are an affordably-priced premium cigar edition from Nicholas Melillo that reaffirms his passion for U.S. Connecticut cigar tobacco in both shade-grown and broadleaf maduro selections. Produced at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars in Nicaragua, the core blend consists of fillers from the Estelí and Jalapa regions of Nicaragua, with a Sumatra binder for the shade version, and a Nicaraguan Habano binder for the broadleaf.” (credit Famous Smoke Shop for the description)

The El Gueguense (highly rated award winner) along with the Tablernacle, are also from Foundation Cigar Company. I have not tried anything from them yet so I decided to go with the smaller Charter Oak simply because it is freezing here in Pa and I wanted a smaller, shorter smoke.

The Petite Corona Broadleaf is 5 1/4 x 42 and features a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper with Nicaraguan filler and binder. It is a mild to medium strength. It is a nice maduro dark brown with the foot folded over. I pick up notes of earth, hay, cedar and a faint sweetness. The band is very cool featuring the image of a historic Oak tree from Hartford Connecticut paying tribute to state Nick was born and raised in.

With the foot being covered you can’t pick up much from it. I used a match to get started and it lit quickly. Straight guillotine cut (I almost opted for the V-cut) and off we go. Right off the bat, the semi-sweet chocolate mixes with earth and some cedar. There is a little pepper left on my palate but blends nicely. The draw is nice with a bit of resistance which is good for a cigar this small. The burn line is forming and is nice and even. The flavor profile remains basically the same. A bit of chocolate with that earthy, cedar wood, and a touch of pepper spice. The pepper doesn’t really build much but is enough to let you know that it is there. For a cigar that is priced under $5, I am VERY impressed with it. I did not expect this much complexity and flavor from this stick.

The second third adds a bit of leather and a nice creamy feel to the blend. The draw is still great, the burn got a bit off but I attribute that to the swirling heat from the heater in the garage. I walked outside in the brisk, cold air for a couple of minutes and the burn evened out immediately. I can’t believe the flavors coming out of this smoke. This cigar rivals cigars I have paid double the price for. Very impressive. Still picking up the earthy, cedar, leather and spice with faint sweetness that pulls it all together.

The final third there is a subtle sourness that comes in but is not overpowering and blends in with the sweetness. The pepper and wood notes are still around and this cigar ends with a very nice, very complex flavor profile. I expected this to be a quick, short smoke but the resistance on the draw really kept this cigar from burning too hot and I got a little over an hour with it. 1 hour 15 minutes and there was little sitting time. I could not put this cigar down. I can’t say enough about this cigar. For the money, I absolutely did not expect to get this much quality and flavor from it. Unbelievable smoke for around $4.50.

“I wanted to create an economy-minded, everyday smoke for connoisseurs; something tasty and delicious but didn’t break the bank”, says Melillo. Mission accomplished sir!! Well done!

Overall, I have to say this cigar completely exceeded the expectations I had for it. Construction was solid, draw and burn were both very good. The complexity of the blend was very interesting and made it hard for me to put down. It never changed so much that it waivered from the initial profile, but enough to make it interesting. This one is an absolute no brainer for me. This is a box worthy purchase any day of the week at this price point. The only other cigar at this price that edges this Charter Oaks is the Rorshach by Black Works Studio. Do yourself a favor and pick up a few of these great cigars. They are available in other sizes as well. I did not pick up the Shade version of this because I am much more a broadleaf guy but I would imagine it is good probably not as complex. This was a mild to medium smoke for me and would be great for beginners looking for a flavorful change, but it is complex enough that experienced smokers would enjoy as well. I am certainly getting more of these and I want to step up into the Tabernacle as well.

Paired with water for the first 2 thirds and Dreaming Tree Crush Red wine for the final third. Paired very well and I could certainly see this pairing with a scotch, rum or bourbon.

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I hope you enjoyed this review. Feel free to leave you thoughts, comments or reviews and as always, long ashes and full glasses. Peace!