For the past 15 years Nicholas Melillo has been intimately involved with tobacco growing, tobacco processing and cigar blending -first with Drew Estate
and, since 2015, with his own company, Foundation Cigar. His journey has taken him around the world and led him to adopting Nicaragua as a second home. The Southbury, Connecticut, native grew up about an hour west of the Connecticut River Valley's historic tobacco farms, and as a young man, he became fascinated with the cultural heritage of Connecticut tobacco farming. He was also enamored of the pipes and cigars that his grandfathers enjoyed, and while a teena
er, he read as much
as he could about tobacco.
Melillo worked with Drew Estate from March 2003 to May 2014. After 11 y
Melillo decided it was time to begin the next step in his career and establish his own company. First, there was Melillo International, a consulting firm, and then he created Foundation Cigar.
Foundation Cigar features four brands, The Tabernacle, Charter Oak, The Upsetters and
The Tabernacle, a super-premium cigar, includes a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. The rest of the blend, which is made at AJ Fernandez's Nicaraguan factory, includes a San Andres Mexican binder and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua.
Charter Oak cigars are wrapped in either a silky Connecticut Shade wrapper or a hearty and rich Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. The rest of the blend is made from some of the best Cuban-seed tobaccos available in Nicaragua.
The Upsetters pays homage to underdogs and those who stand up for their rights against oppression. The cigars are blended with Nicaraguan and Jamaican filler tobaccos and are offered with different wrappers, depending on the size.
El Güegüense (pronounced WAY-WHEN-SAY) cigars are made at Eduardo Fernandez's TABSA factory in Esteli. A Nicaraguan puro, the cigar's tobaccos are sourced from Fernandez's Aganorsa farms in Jalapa and Esteli, and the blend offers a medium to strong body.