Cigar Aficionado Rating 96
Cigar Aficionado’s 2019 Cigar of the Year
The story of Aging Room revolves around a central character who had no idea he was headed for the cigar business: Rafael Nodal. It’s a timeline of transitions, partnerships and collaborations that ultimately lead to the creation of the Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua Maestro, Cigar Aficionado’s 2019 Cigar of the Year.
But first we rewind back almost 40 years ago to 1980, when Nodal came to the U.S. from Cuba as a refugee on the infamous Mariel boatlift. With no background in cigars, Nodal sought a career in music that brought him to New York City, then to Miami where he embarked on a more practical career in healthcare. There, he met his future business partners Hank Bischoff and Dr. Alina Cordoves (now his wife).
Nodal’s foray into the cigar world was slow. In 1998, he and his partners began selling cigars online, and in 2002 they took over the Habana Cuba Cigar Co., a struggling company with a mediocre portfolio of forgettable cigars. For a while, the business situation was looking quite grim.
Not one to be easily discouraged, Nodal explored the concept of producing cigars in small batches. In 2011 he came out with a new brand called Aging Room Small Batch M356. He also changed the name of his company from Habana Cuba Cigar Co. to Boutique Blends. The first Aging Rooms were made by José “Jochy” Blanco in the Dominican Republic. (Blanco is also a partner in the brand.) The cigars scored well in Cigar Aficionado, and the Presto size was named to the 2011 Top 25. Nodal got his first taste of critical success – and he kept going.
Today, you’d be forgiven if the name Aging Room creates a bit of confusion. There are a lot of different Aging Roomsmade in different factories. The crowning achievement, however, is the Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua Maestro made by A.J Fernandez in Nicaragua.
The cigar is essentially Nodal’s vision, crafted by Fernandez with his distinct tobacco and signature factory style. Every last leaf in this blend is Nicaraguan and every puff is an overture of flavors that’s at times heavy and rich with notes of dark chocolate and wood, and other times, subtle and understated with hints of fine caramel and toasted almonds. In musical terms, the word for this box-pressed torpedo would be dynamic.
Nodal is still an artist at heart and cigars continue to be his creative outlet. If the birth of Aging Room was his breakthrough, consider the Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua Maestro his masterpiece.
Strength: Medium to Full
Ring Gauge: 52