AJ Fernandez "New World Dorado" Review: A Fresh Gold Standard for Medium Cigars

After receiving a 93-rating from Cigar Aficionado in 2022, and ranking #14 in the Top 25 Cigars of the Year, the desire to sample AJ Fernandez's New World Dorado became overwhelming.

Further temptation was felt when I realized that this blend was formulated with an almost completely single-source approach to cultivation.

Outside of a sprinkling within the filler blend being pulled from a couple of AJ's other fields, the entirety of this premium cigar blend comes straight out of one farm plot: The AJ Fernandez Dorado farm in Estelí, Nicaragua.

That means the sun-grown habano wrapper, along with the Criollo '98 binder, and a fat bunch of the long-filler inside are exposed to the exact same climate, weather changes, watering routines, soil quality, and so forth on a daily basis. 

Even more intriguing is the fact that this particular piece of land is one of AJ's newest tobacco crop-producing plots. According to Cigar Aficionado's writeup in 2022, the plantation where this blend was born was  "...only five years old and the tobacco here comes from its maiden harvest."

But perhaps what sealed the deal, and made me want to smoke this cigar more than anything, was a quote I found on the AJ Fernandez website, which explained that the Dorado was "...named due to its golden texture and taste."

I don't know about ya'll, but when someone says that a cigar tastes and feels like pure gold, I have to get in on that action. This is precisely why we have gathered here today...

[Buy 5-Pack]

Unlit Impressions  

AJ Fernandez New World Dorado Review

Allow your eyes to gaze beyond the big, brazenly gold Dorado band, and you will see a cigar wrapper that is covered in teeth... tons of teeth. In fact, this cigar is so toothy, that the texture feels almost like medium grit sandpaper, or some form of anti-slip powder coating.

Box-pressing on both cigars sampled was a bit soft and on the round side, which promised a nice draw and a fluid burn. There was also a perfectly formed and fitted deep cap on each cigar I smoked, and all of the seams and veins felt flush.

Aromatics from the wrapper of one of the cigars was a muddy mix of animal hide, damp clay, cardboard, peppercorns, and dried cedar. The other stick was similar, but a little more grassy smelling and sweeter. Fortunately, both cigars improved immensely after sitting outside of the cellophane during dry boxing and became more cedar-centric and sweeter smelling.

This blend also has an outstanding-smelling foot, with a sweet rum raisin ice cream overtone being the most notable. This is followed by stronger cedar smells and a salted, dessert grain smell that resembles multigrain beer bread or an oatmeal cookie.

Cold draws are magnificent, and make me feel like I'm chewing on a gourmet oatmeal cream pie sandwich with a rum reduction sauce spiking the vanilla icing inside. 

Tobacco Nerd Note: Feeling a bit confused when someone says a cigar is "toothy" or has "teeth" and want to understand what the hell they are talking about? Check out the Klaro "Toothy Cigars" Deep Dive

Initial Smoke

AJ Fernandez New World Dorado Review

Tough and a tad leathery, with a farmhouse, animal-like aromatic blanketing much of the start, it's hard for me to like the light-up on this blend. There's black pepper heat and cedar too, along with a load of loamy soil, but that only makes the experience feel all the more bold. Even then, these additional tastes are not enough to overcome the bovine funk found up front.

1st Half    

AJ Fernandez New World Dorado Review

Sweeter by the second, and gradually more mellow, the flavors that the New World Dorado develops after a centimeter or so down the foot are remarkable in that they erase any foul taste from prior. Toasted cedar staves, fresh-baked oatmeal cookies, vanilla beans, touches of cinnamon and orange zest, and a dark, earthy core bless your taste buds with each puff. 

Retrohales are still strong and black pepper forward, but they too have mellowed. This is due to the amount of tropical topsoil detected, which adds depth and dankness to the blend, and tones down any remaining sharpness from earlier on.

2nd Half    

AJ Fernandez New World Dorado Review

As oak tannins and toasted marshmallow make you wish you were camping, along comes a drizzle of honey and that coveted graham cracker taste we crave in certain cigars. 

Standing in sharp contrast are the pepper tones of the cigar, which tend to strike after you have exhaled. This adds a bit of strength and extra flavor to an already Medium+ premium cigar blend and works surprisingly well with the milk-n-honey taste that starts you off.

Final third flavors are bolder still, with enough cedar and sweet aromatics to make it all worthwhile. This portion almost goes beyond the medium range, with tangy citrus and spice, cedar-rich retrohale roping it in. This final note is reminiscent of another phenomenal premium cigar blend from AJ Fernandez: Dias de Gloria

Parting Puffs    

AJ Fernandez New World Dorado Review

As a boozy, white French oak wine barrel note develops, earthier flavors from the first third stumble onto the scene. Undeniably sweet, and fortified with fertile flavors of farm and field, this peppery, grassy, full-on finish to the New World Dorado does not leave you on a bland note. It's strong but not sharp, and perfectly balanced for those who enjoy bolder smokes.

Ash / Burn / Smoke / Draw  

AJ Fernandez New World Dorado Review

If I could hand out an award for construction and combustion excellence, this stick would be in the running for the greatest burning cigar of the year. A true masterpiece in all four subcategories here makes the Dorado a pleasure to puff. 

Final Thoughts  

AJ Fernandez New World Dorado Review

Strong and smooth, ultra-creamy, yet somehow dark and complex, AJ Fernandez's New World Dorado is a cigar filled with compliments and contrasts. There may not be much about it that is mild, but somehow it feels like even fans of lower-power medium cigar blends could stomach this one. 

And while there were aspects of the blend that I found unappetizing, I could give two shits if the unlit aromas off the wrapper and first few minutes reminded me of a cattle ranch. Everything that this cigar offers outside of these unpleasantries is pushing perfection. It may not have the most outrageous transitions (or any at all) at times, but that's completely copacetic when there's little to dislike.

All told this is a super smooth burner with balance and bright flavors offsetting darker Nicaraguan puro-powered profiles. Whatever was grown on that farm plot prior to tobacco must have been magnificent, because this blend is pure gold.

AJ Fernandez New World Dorado Review

Flavor, Aroma & Transitions

Depth & Complexity

Construction, Burn & Physical Appeal

Backstory & Branding

Overall Balance & Repeatability

Stogie Specs


AJ Fernandez "New World Dorado"


Sun-Grown Habano (Nicaragua)


Criollo '98 (Nicaragua)






5½" x 52 "Robusto" (box-pressed)



Pairing Drink

Mixed Citrus Homemade Soda


 4.5 / 5

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