Living in Delaware, I’m somewhat spoiled as a cigar smoker, all things considered. Cigar taxes are relatively low, there’s a great chain of cigar shops throughout the state, and we’re the home of Emilio Cigars, an up & coming cigar brand that’s been making lots of waves recently. The man behind Emilio, Gary Griffith, also manages the chain of cigar shops in my area. So, not only is he the owner of a buzz-worthy boutique cigar brand, he’s also my local tobacconist.
Emilio currently offers three lines of cigars: the Serie H, the Grimalkin, and the AF Serie. The AF1 and AF2 blends are produced by (and named in honor of) AJ Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua. Although it features an Ecuadoran Habano oscuro wrapper, the AF2 is actually lighter in color than the dark maduro wrapper on the AF1. Inside the AF2, you’ll find Nicaraguan binder and filler, along with some unique Pennsylvania ligero filler as well. It’s available in cabinet boxes of 20 cigars, and comes in four sizes: robusto, toro, torpedo, and the massive BMF (which stands for exactly what you think it stands for).
I’ve been smoking a lot of the Emilio AF2 lately, and since it hadn’t yet been covered here at the Stogie Review, I figured I should write up a review.
Emilio AF2 by the numbers:
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Habano Oscuro
Filler: Nicaragua, Pennsylvania Ligero
Factory: AJ Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua
No. smoked for review: 5+
Duration: 2 hours
Source: purchased by the reviewer
The wrapper on the AF2 is a really nice-looking deep brown color with a leather-like sheen. It puts off a scent of sweet cocoa mixed with some floral and woodsy notes in the background. Off the foot, I picked up a distinct barnyard aroma, accompanied by more cocoa and a touch of spice. After slicing off the cap, the cold draw offers up the perfect amount of resistance with cocoa & red wine, and perhaps a hint of manure.
Starting off on the first third, I’m met with an immediate rush of deep, rich flavors. Sweet leather and dark fruit are at the forefront, with black pepper and dark chocolate undertones. These flavors are definitely a moving target, complex and shifting, enticing the smoker to pay close attention. As the first third develops, I detect something which can only be described as reminiscent of spiced wafer (cinnamon & molasses?).
The AF2 takes its foot off the gas somewhat in the second third, flavor-wise, as the body starts to build. I picked up some more spice, though I still wouldn’t consider this to be a particularly spicy cigar. The sweetness and chocolate flavors are still present, but subdued, along with some toffee and toasted marshmallow. The burn line is razor thin and requires no corrections, even in a gentle breeze. The light gray ash is nice & tight, and hangs on for almost a full half of the cigar before falling off.
In the final third, the flavors ramp back up again as the body continues to build (though it’s not quite as powerful as the AF1). The leather is back in a big way, together with peppery spice, dark chocolate, and vanilla cream. While the AF2 produces thick, palate-coating smoke with each puff, there is relatively little standing smoke and my wife noted that the smell was actually quite pleasant.
I’ve tried the AF2 in several different vitolas (everything except the torpedo), and although Gary says he designs his blends to be optimized for the toro, I think the AF2 is best expressed in the BMF. I usually tend to stick with smaller ring gauges (i.e., coronas & robustos), but this particular cigar just works in the larger size. I know I’ll keep smoking and enjoying these, and I look forward to whatever Gary comes up with next. If you’re lucky enough to live near a retailer that carries Emilio, be sure to pick these up. If not, ask your local B&M when they’re going to get in on this. You won’t be disappointed.
Charlie has been enjoying cigars since 2000 and generally prefers a medium-bodied, full-flavored smoke. A USAF vet, he is currently pursuing a PhD in computer science, focusing on artificial intelligence and computational linguistics. Originally from Connecticut and now residing in Delaware, Charlie is also a fan of football, science fiction, political philosophy, and single malt scotch. You can contact Charlie on Twitter @greenbacker
10 thoughts on “Emilio AF2”
You’ve been putting up some nice reviews here, Charlie. I haven’t had a chance to get a hold of any of these here in the Northwest, but I was fortunate to have been gifted an AF1 and Grimalkin by Tony Casas. I understand that Gary has hired a rep in this area, so I’m looking forward to his cigars being available here.
Keep up the good work, and, if possible, maybe you can put a video review once in awhile.
Great review – you’re a good writer! I really like Gary’s cigars. The AF2 is probably my favorite of his to date. Keep up the good work.
Hey, Charlie, thanks for the great review and photos. Good to see your continued presence on the site. What do you know about the Pennsylvania ligero in the filler? I don’t see mention of this priming very much from Pennsylvania. Are there other blends out there using Pennsylvania ligero in the filler?
I asked Gary about it, and he says the Pennsylvania ligero comes from Lancaster County (which is famous for its notable Amish population). He guesses other manufacturers might be using some of the same leaf, but he’s not sure. He’ll ask AJ Fernandez next week.
Here’s an article about tobacco farming in Amish country from the March 1997 issue of Cigar Aficionado:
I found another blend by AJ that uses Pennsylvania tobacco: La Herencia Cubana Core
Good review Charlie, Makes me want one, so I could compare it to your notes. But I doubt if there will be any in my area.
Here’s the list of cigar retailers that carry Emilio: http://www.emiliocigars.com/Retailers.html
And here’s a map of the same list: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=212609310752303951626.0004aeb3563020bd45cf9&msa=0&ll=39.97712,-94.482422&spn=50.31482,77.871094
AF1 and AF2 are quickly becoming my favorite cigars. I will be trying the grimalkin this week! It’s good to be in Delaware 🙂
Got to find out these cigars are by made AJ,and for Brick and Mortar Only! Have to “Big up” my local smoke shop,RALPH CIGARS in Chicago for having them in stock!! For me the AF2s are the best. NICE REVIEW AND RIGHT ON THE MONEY!!!