from the Stogie Review Fan Forums
Looking through the latest cigar.com catalog last week, a new cigar that immediately caught my eye was the Ave Maria, apparently the latest creation by AJ Fernandez. Billed as a medium-bodied smoke, for some reason I felt compelled to purchase a box on the spot, despite never smoking one of these. I am a big fan of a lot of what AJ has produced, and my humidor was stocked with full-bodied sticks and mild connecticut-wrapped cigars, so I was in need of something to fill that void. With that said, here we go!
Vitola: Crusader (robusto)
Price: ~$113/box of 20
Smoke Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
The band on the Ave Maria is impressive, taking up a third of the real estate on the cigar. The wrapper is a natural colored habano, with a few coarse veins throughput the length of the cigar. This cigar feel nicely compacted, with no noticeable soft spots. Wrapper and foot give off a rich natural tobacco smell. Pre-light draw is loose, with just a bit of resistance, and the taste is of a mild hay.
The Ave Maria burned evenly throughout the entire length of the cigar, requiring touch ups near the tail end of the smoke, but only because I am finicky with the burnline. The first Ave Maria I smoked held an ash until it reached the band, but the other two seemed to have a looser ash that wanted to fall off after every inch or so. The draw remained perfect for all three of these that I have smoked, allowing me to fill the sun room up with plumes of aromatic smoke.
This is where this cigar really shines. Initial puffs reveal a very mild spice through the retrohale, with a finish of wood. This spice died out fairly quickly in the first cigar I smoked, but the other two it lingered on for about half the length of the stick. Along with the spice are nuts, wood, and some very prevalent leather towards the latter part of the stick. Mouthfeel was a nice woody quality that became “chewy” at about the halfway point. Body is medium and stays that way until the last inch of the cigar, where the leather qualities make it more of a full-bodied smoke. I find that by smoking this slowly (about 1 puff every minute), the complexity of this cigar really shines. I have yet to pair this with anything stronger than water, but imagine it would pair nicely with a medium-roast coffee or a nice bourbon.
While I haven’t smoked a ton of new offerings this year, I will say that the Ave Maria is one of my favorites from this past year. I don’t smoke a lot of medium-bodied sticks, but this really accomplished what I wanted out of this cigar and then some. I will likely make this cigar a regular rotation in my humidor, and will certainly buy more once my box runs out. I would highly recommend this cigar.
24 thoughts on “Ave Maria Crusader (Guest Review)”
I bought a fiver of these from cigarsinternational.com and really enjoyed the one I tried. A little humidor time and they might be a real giant killer.
can’t wait to try these!
I finally smoked the robusto I got from Ccom. full flavored medium – full bodied smoke that just begs you to take another pull. a great compliment by AJ to the Man O War and Ruination full bodied lines. He really hit a home run with this one. I will say though, unlike the MOW and Ruination, these need a month or so in the humi before smoking.
Thanks for using my review guys!
Thanks for writing it!
Sounds like something I outta try. And man, that’s a big band. But pretty cool looking too.
I’m smoking one right now based on your review. Earlier tonight i headed over to the Cigars International superstore in Bethlehem PA to pick one up… And had the special treat of seeing Miss May 2003 who was there for a Playboy cigars promo! Bonus!
For those of you within car distance of Cigars International stores (Bethlehem, PA) they have a coupon special this month (December 2010) on a sample box of 8 Ave Marias – different sizes for $30. I got one last week and can’t wait to open it. The coupon must be printed off of their web site.
curious about these guys, thanks for the review!
Wow – I live in Ave Maria, Florida, a new university town, where there is a growing cigar culture.
The local Queen Mary Pub & Grille has a large humidor, and the men in town hold cigar nights at the tables out front every Thursday. I am ordering a box of these (something I NEVER do), and I will give one to my friend who runs the pub. I bet he will soon be stocking them.
Can’t wait to try this cigar, it sounds pretty damn good too from the description. Overall I havent been upset with a AJ Fernandez cigar yet and this sounds like just another gem in the collection. Thanks for the pre-view review, i love these quick little reviews on new cigars.
I am smoking one right now with some most excellent Buffalo Trace bourbon. NIce feel, mild right now but tasty. I may jump back on with my final thoughts.
I have smoked 10 ave maria cigars. 5 belicoso and 5 churchil size.flavor and draw were great. Nice looking sticks. The burn was awful, uneven and flaky on all of them. Not what I would have expected from a cigar that CI calls the next best thing.
The Ave Maria is one of the Best Cigars I have in a long time.A very good smoke to the end.
I really wish the cigar world would give AJ Fernandez the press that he deserves. His Man O’ War series with the great core line, the terrific Ruination extension and the utterly amazing Armada is just the beginning of his legacy. But as great as those 3 cigars are, I think the Ave Maria is even better. I smoked it almost the minute that I received it from UPS (which is a rarity for me). And I was just floored at how good it is. I bought a box of the Holy Grail (Salomon) and the ST. Clement (Torpedo) immediately thereafter and each one has been awesome. A year or two of box aging and these will rival anything out there.
I’ve been wanting try AJ’s Man O’ War series, and it looks like that wish will come true likely next week.
But now I have to add the Ave Marie to my list, since the flavor profile described here is right up my alley! Great review Chris!
A friend gave me an Ave Maria to try without any comment about the cigar just to try.
Well I don’t know about the guys that are giving this cigar the rave reviews, but I thought the cigar was average. Not great but average. In fact on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give it a 5 and that being generous.
The best way to try a new cigar is make it the first cigar of the day.
To quote Mark Twain: “No one can tell me what is a good cigar. I am the only judge, there are no standards no real standards. Each man’s preference is the only standard for him, the only one which he can accept, the only one which can command him”.
Although It does have an intricate band.
I definately agree with your rating.I would say your spot on.
I have smoked 3 different sticks of the Ave Maria. Two of them were larger ring guage and the 3rd was the 7×48. The first two I have to say were good but not great. The third was excellent. I don’t know if it was the ring guage or just variation but after trying the 7×48 I went online and ordered a box of the 6×48.
Just tried the Ave Maria line.Even though a good rounded cigar,i dont think it lives up to the hype written.I just finished the crusader.A nice well rounded taste,A good cigar but not really an excellent smoke like the hype portrays them as.Would i buy a box of the Ave Marie’s,not really.I guess i will try a few of the different sizes before i make my final opinion on this brand.I believe if im not mistaken AJ Fernadaz is the maker and i found his Sol Lotano,habana is a way more enjoyable cigar.I smoked the church hill size and found a delish smoke from start to finish.On a scale from 1 to 10 the Ave Maria for me was a 6.A problem for me was you had to touch up this cigar through the smoke.For me not just the next best thing,just a decent cigar.Dont always believe the hype.
Try the Clermont size gauge and you will see a big difference…look at the CI video where they gave these to cigars makers unbanded and it was the Clermont size. The smaller guage Ave’s just seem to taste and burn better than their larger cigars.
The regular Ave Marias, I found were good, but not knocking my socks off … I normallly prefer the larger cigars … torpedo, toro, salomon … but someone suggested the Clermont (corona larga), and I liked them enough to now have bought a couple boxes. One problem I have is that my current living situation has not allowed me to do any long term aging of the cigars in humidors, so I can’t say what aging would do to these cigars, but my hunch is that they would get even better. Next, I have now had the Ave Maria Immaculata which has now become my favorite mild to medium … very fine cigar in the torpedo, rivaling anything similar in size and wrapper … great construction … blew the last Cuban Montecristo #2 I had right out of the water.
Get some humi pillows and you’ll turn the boxes into humies. Smoking the robusto right now and it’s great. perfect draw, aromatic, delicious and a real spectrum of flavors. The wood taste is deep and rich with a toasty aftertaste that lingers just right. Coffee, semisweet tobacco with perfect balance, a touch of chocolate and nutmeg if you really concentrate.