I ran to my local B&M when the Charter Oak Especiales (Pegnatoro and Pasquale) were released. I will admit that the $13 price tag caught me by surprise, especially when Foundation decided to keep the Charter Oak branding. Naturally, I gravitated toward the Pasquale which revolves around the Connecticut Broadleaf seed. This line of cigars pays homage to Nick Melillo’s grandfathers, one loved CT broadleaf and the other liked CT shade. These cigars also pay tribute to the new Foundation office that opened on a 300-acre farm in the Connecticut River Valley tobacco growing region. The multiple lines that center around broadleaf seed from Foundation are what keep me a fan of Foundation.
SIZE: 5 1/2″ x 48
FACTORY: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
WRAPPER: Connecticut Broadleaf
BINDER: Jalapa Nicaragua
FILLER: Estelí and Jalapa Nicaragua
STRENGTH: Medium – Full
November 26, 2023 Noon
Overcast, Warm fall breeze
HOW MANY CIGARS SMOKED:
RELEASE TYPE Limited Quarterly Release
ORIGINALLY RELEASE DATE October 2023
Typical Box Size: Boxes of 12
Production Totals: 500 Boxes
o Soft Box-Pressed Corona (5-1/2″ x 48)
The band is similar to the standard Charter Oak but includes rose gold foiling and some nice embellishments branching out from the oak tree. I am a big fan of the foundation logo on the back of the band. It is a nice addition. Besides the price, the band plays a big role in informing the consumer that this cigar is something more than the Charter Oak budget line. I also really dig the hand-drawn tree on the band, it gives the band a nice personal touch.
A soft box press and a dark chocolate wrapper with a slight oily sheen. While it’s not a pristine looking cigar, there is an upscale rustic quality to the construction. There are no bumps and there is some slight give when squeezing the stick. The seams are almost invisible and there is some mottling in the wrapper but for the most part, it is a deep dark chocolate caramel color.
Off of the body of the cigar, you get some barnyard and cedar. It is fairly straightforward. On the foot, I get some sweet floral notes on the forefront followed by just a little bit of pepper and then barnyard and cedar. All in all, the aroma is very subtle but pleasant.
There is a good amount of resistance on the draw. In the first sample, I opted to just twist off the pigtail but it was just too much resistance so I straight-cut the cigar for the next two. The cold draw is one-dimensional with just a muted cedar note coming through. Not to say this a a bad thing, there is not a lot to it.
LIGHT & DRAW
Right off of light up there is ample smoke. The smoke comes out in big thick plumes of smoke. The smoke has an almost chewy texture for a little bit but it slowly transitions to something much lighter.
The draw is flawless as soon as I light the cigar. Big blasts of dark earth with bitter chocolate on the back end. The retro has a touch of pepper in the beginning but that also morphs into an earth and cedar mixture. The finish is brief, lasting around 4 seconds and is just a dry cedar and oak combination.
>> earth, dark chocolate, butterscotch cookie
The burn has a little wave to it and the ash is fragile but not flaky. The draw remained flawless throughout the first third. There is still a lot of earthiness on the front of the palate. Following right behind that is a dark bitter chocolate just like off of light up. The retro gets kicked up to cayenne pepper with dry earth following close behind. After the retro subsides you get a small hint of a butterscotch cookie that is buttery with just a whisp of popcorn. The finish continues to be a tad on the dry side with cedar and earth dominating the palate for a few seconds before falling off. At this point, I want more from this cigar. While the construction is great the flavors are falling flat.
>> damp earth, cinnamon, oak
Great straight burn, big plumes of smoke, and flawless draw continue. The earth note continues to dominate the palate throughout the second third and while I want to think that there is a nice sweet chocolate flavor waiting to come out after the blast of earth, I am left with more earth, maybe a damp earth. The spice on the retro is more like a spicy cinnamon that smooths out into a nice oak. This finish expands into a stronger damp earth than some dark chocolate. It leans more towards the chocolate flavors which is a welcomed change. That chocolate morphs into a smooth woody note. It is a short and punchy finish like the first third.
>> dark chocolate, cedar, toast
The dark chocolate is more prevalent in the last third. While the earth still lingers it shifts to the back of the palate. The retro has smoothed out into just a warm burning cedar with some toasted bread and cinnamon. The finish hangs on to the chocolate note melding with more woody notes. Keeping with the pattern of short lived flavor on the backend, those woody notes drop off after a few seconds. This was an underwhelming cigar.
RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS
The Charter Oak Pasquale is predictable. Earth with some chocolate and cedar thrown in the mix. While other interesting flavors pop in throughout the smoking experience, they seem short-lived and insignificant. At the nub right before I put the cigar down I did get a bit of caramel. It’s almost like the cigar had to offer more but just didn’t.
The construction of this stick was great. It was consistent in its burn and the draw was perfect. I can say that those are two things that this cigar has going for it. The smoke was plentiful and thick. I enjoyed the texture of the smoke but definitely wished that the flavors were as enjoyable as the construction of the cigar.
0.70 / 0.80 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.40 / 0.50 … Pre-Light Characteristics
0.50 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
5.60 / 7.70 … Smoking Experience
0.25 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment
COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES
NOT EVERY RELEASE CAN BE A HOME RUN.
Maybe this is a base hit. I have been a big fan of Foundation cigars for years and still continue to be. The Charter Oak line is a great budget option for any cigar enthusiast. This is a different cigar than the standard Charter Oak broadleaf. It was enjoyable but for the same price, I can get a Tabernacle in the corona size for a couple of dollars cheaper and that is a cigar I always have in my rotation. Maybe this is a cigar that would benefit from sitting in a humidor for a little longer.