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AJ Fernandez Brands ~ Nicaraguan Cigars
One of the hottest names in the cigar industry today is AJ Fernandez. Aficionados want his cigars in their humidors, brands want him to work with him, and everything he touches seems to turn to gold. He has collaborated with some of the best in the world and he has evolved beyond a man and into a true legend, the legacy of AJ will definitely live on beyond the man.
The story of Abdel Josef Fernandez begins in San Luis, Cuba. AJ’s great grandfather founded San Lutano Cigars, a local favorite, and went to work for the government’s tobacco business after the industry was nationalized. AJ’s father, Ismael, also worked for the Cuban cigar industry and many of AJ’s childhood memories took place on those tobacco fields.
In 1995, AJ’s father left Cuba to work for his cousin Nestor Plasencia in Nicaragua. Eight years later AJ followed his father’s move and began rolling cigar’s for Nestor. AJ began experimenting with fermentation at his own home and soon had an overhang with 15 rolling tables.
AJ’s first major client was the Fusion line for Rocky Patel. This collaboration got the ball rolling for the young entrepreneur. Cigar International, now AJ’s biggest client, followed suit and AJ’s production kept expanding.
In 2006, Tabacalera AJ Fernandez S.A. produced 4 million cigars in Estelí, Nicaragua. They included brand such as Man O’ War, Diesel, and his grandfather’s recovered brand, San Lutano. Unfortunately, due to a clerical error in the trademark office, the San Lutano brand became San Lotano and AJ decided to run with it.
In no time at all, Tabacalera AJ Fernandez had reached maximum capacity and in 2016 the San Lotano factory, in Ocotál, Nicaragua, had a soft opening. AJ bought the 117,000 sq. ft. facility from the Oliva family and had it remodeled it to be similar to his factory in Estelí.
Inside the two large facilities, AJ has a vast array of premium perfectly fermented and aged tobacco. AJ’s blends are praised for their balance, complexity, and variety. His factories produce cigars across the spectrum, from mellow mild smokes to bold, complex full bodied cigars.
AJ started as a manufacturer and then developed his own popular brands such as Enclave and New World. Enclave is a father son project which led Ismael to work with his son instead of Nestor, while the New World brand is named for the discovery of the Americas, and is a gem of a cigar, box-pressed to perfection.
The cigars produced by AJ Fernandez fit any budget, from the value premium brand Enclave, to the $500 per cigar rare Cuban seed cigar known as Pelo d’Oro. AJ also partnered with Aging Room to produce a Pelo d’Oro based cigar at a more modest price point.
AJ Fernandez has blended cigars for Altadis’ legendary brands Montecristo, Romeo Y Julieta, H. Upmann, & more, while General Cigar Company commissioned AJ for the Hoyo La Amistad. In 2017, he released two lines, Truth and Hit & Run, in conjunction with Robert Caldwell, and Matt Booth.
AJ’s blends have won various awards throughout the years. His first brand venture, San Lotano, was rated the world’s second best cigar by Cigar Journal. AJ’s cigars have ranked number one and on the top 25 of the year numerous time with Cigar Journal, Cigar Snob, and Cigar Aficionado.
The hype built around AJ’s work is substantiated by his immense talent and dedication to crafting his exquisite cigars. AJ continues his family legacy living by the motto “Passion, Discipline, Great Tobacco since 1951”.