September 27, 2023 3:27 pm

Fuerte y Libre Midnight Bender

“Smoke Strong, Live Free!”  ~ Greg Free, Fuerte y Libre Cigars

What Makes It Special

This is my absolute favorite Fuerte y Libre cigar! The Midnight Bender Cigar received a 96 rating by Leaf n’ Grain Society, and for good reason! Its Mexican San Andres Maduro wrapper leaf, is grown in the volcanic soil of the San Andres Valley, and can be traced back to ancient Mayan carvings in Veracruz. Known as “Morron” or “Negro”, for its dark brown color, this tobacco is stalk-cut (entire plant) versus primed (leaves picked off the plant two or three times), and so it is thicker, naturally sweet, and earthy.

Piloto seed was originally a purely Cuban seed that was migrated and replanted in the Dominican Republic’s Cibao Valley in 1962. This is a stronger tobacco that will provide some nuttiness, earthiness, and light vanilla undertones to the blend. Today, it is the most common type of tobacco found in cigars from the Dominican Republic. 

Fuerte y Libre Cigars, established in 2018, are produced by Tabacalera El Hoyito in Tamboril, known as “The World Capital of Cigars.”

Virginia based owner Greg Free, took full advantage of the Piloto leaf’s potential for this blend. By using it for both the filler and binder, both the flavors and strength are ramped up, making this cigar experience full bodied, full flavored, and fully enjoyable.


Brand:  Fuerte y Libre Cigars
Vitola: 6×52 Toro
Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano Ligero
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Maduro
Binder: Dominican Piloto Cubano Ligero              
Body: Medium to Full Boldness
Price: $12

Visual / Pre-light Draw

Very toothy, veiny, and oily medium brown maduro wrapper. There are bold green grassy hay notes on the side sniff, with bold and creamy dark cocoa notes on the dry foot odor. It has a simple blue, red and gold band displaying Fuerte y Libre’s spirit of the brand image, an American bull head over “Midnight Bender”. “The bull symbolizes strength and freedom, standing alone in a field.” All Fuerte y Libre cigars, including this one, are named after famous rodeo bulls. 

The company’s main Brand Ambassador and North Suffolk Cigars’ Tobacconist, Genevieve Harris, is also a Taurus. 

P.S. I love her! 

There is no spice on the head when prepping it for my guy Marc Alston’s, industry game-changing and patented Select Draw. This silver “Chess Piece” opens up to three sharp prongs, which are used to punch into the cigar’s head and body, to enhance the smoothness of the draw. This is my first time using the Select Draw, which produces creamy notes of dark chocolate on this cigar.

First Third

Okay, now I see what all the Select Draw buzz is about! Not only is the draw smoother, but the flavors of the tobacco also seem to be enhanced. I am the one who gave this cigar a 96 rating for Leaf n Grain Society, and now the cigar is even better than I remember. 

After a proper and slow soft flame lighting of the cigar, I immediately get a unique charred graham cracker note that is delivered perfectly by the Select Draw. What’s great about this tool is you can punch the cigar as much or as little as you want, to obtain your personalized perfect level of draw, which remains smooth as can be. The cigar transitions to churned buttery chocolate notes, and the retro-hale is fantastic. I can tell the smooth leathery flavors on the retro-hale have also been enhanced by the Select Draw. By keeping the cigar’s cap on, and punching through it, all of the cigar’s flavors seem to gather at the head, before being delivered, smoothly and boldly to the palate. I am thoroughly impressed by this new punch tool, and the cigar is performing better than ever!

Second Third

I love this perfect ash, perfect burn, and the bold flavors of this Midnight Bender. Some roasted pistachio notes arrive, and that creamy charred graham cracker note continues to dominate the experience. Then another nice transition to leathery vanilla before that lengthy ash, finally falls off with dignity. Time to introduce this Midnight Bender to Lochea Distillery’s Fallow Edition First Crop, Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Oh my damn! This is a very seductive, creamy and juicy pairing. Lets add in the very smooth and seductive Kygo remix of Coldplay’s Midnight track. Yass!!! Now we are there! On a perfect Midnight Bender!

Final Third

The cigar is peaking and I’m feelin it!  Some creamy chocolate notes overlay that amazing graham cracker note, and the cigar’s construction remains perfect. Those creamy pistachios return, perfectly charred, and coating the entire palate. The cigar’s band comes right off, and now it’s time to really burn the midnight oil. The cigar’s bold favors are continuously concentrated, smoothed out, and delivered perfectly by the “Chess Piece” Select Draw. Overall, puffing this cigar to Kygo’s smooth tropical beats, and Chris Martin’s soft voice, is a very euphoric and highly recommended smoking experience!

​Sipping the whisky to the cigar produces juicy red wine notes that are turned candylike by the cigar’s bold flavor. This is a unique pairing, producing some very unique charred vanilla flavor’s  that wouldn’t exist without both products marrying together.

The Pairing

​Lochlea Fallow Edition is a superb non-age stated whisky that hits all the marks: 46%ABV, non-chill filtered, and no color added. This is a newer Lowland distillery, commissioned in August 2018, and constructed on the Lochlea farm, where the famous Robert Burns lived and toiled soil, in the heart of Ayrshire, Scotland. “Autumn on the farm is when our fields are given time to recover after harvest and the crisp gold and purple leaves cover the ground. Therefore, we developed a dark, rich whisky to warm us up as temperatures start to fall.”

On the nose, there are intense dusty old library leather notes over dark fruits, very reminiscent of that well aged Campbeltown funk, but it’s a young Lowland whisky! On the palate it has a nice thick viscosity, mellow spice, with fresh cold deli meats over a nice rich and ripe dark fruitiness. Then there is lingering and savory vanilla dusted leather over banana bread on the finish.

Smoking the cigar to the whisky produces charred graham cracker notes, which are washed down by creamy citrusy and vanilla wine flavors. Some deep purple grape notes arrive mid-palate before dark  and charred fig notes linger on the finish.

We cleanse the palate with some water!

Sipping the whisky to the cigar produces juicy red wine notes that are turned candylike by the cigar’s bold flavor. This is a unique pairing, producing some very unique charred vanilla flavors that wouldn’t exist without both products marrying together.

The cigar’s Select Draw, its bold flavors, and the whisky are all very smooth, so the pairing is very smooth. Overall, this is a very sexy, seductive, and dessert-like pairing.

I imagine this blissful pairing experience is what happens when Genevieve “The Draw Queen” Harris, gets her grips on her King, and I’m all in!

Acknowledgment & Live Pairing

Thank you Greg Free and Genevieve Harris, my Queen, for this amazing Midnight Bender pairing experience. Visit for all of Fuerte y Libre’s famous American bull cigar options.  

Thank you Marc Alston, for taking the cigar industry to the next level, with your amazing Select Draw products, which can be purchased at and amazon.

Thank you Joshua Hatton, of, for joining us on the Great Cigar & Pipe Show, for this featured hilarious live pairing episode:

Photography by: James Archie

"Whisky is liquid sunshine."

George Bernard Shaw

“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass – an agreeable interlude.”

James Joyce

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