Montecristo Espada Cigar Review
Following the 2013 releases of the Romeo y Julieta RyJ and Juan Lopez, Altadis U.S.A. has released yet another Nicaraguan puro, now under its Montecristo brand. Composed of tobaccos from Jalapa and Condega, the Montecristo Espada is produced by the Plasencia family in Nicaragua. Available vitolas include: Ricasso (5 by 54), Guard (6 by 50), and Quillon (7 by 56). Today, I will be reviewing the Montecristo Espada Guard for your reading pleasure.
halfwheel.com reported on the Espada back in June:
Altadia U.S.A. is adding a new chapter to the storied history of its Montecristo brand with the upcoming release of Espada by Montecristo, a new collaboration between the company’s Grupo de Maestros and the Plasencia family.
The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro with tobacco coming primarily from the Jalapa region of the country. The wrapper is a Habano Jalapa Vintage 2010, while the binder is a 2009 vintage. The filler draws from a trio of 2008 vintage leaves: Habano Jalapa seco, Habano Ometepe viso and Habano ligero from Condega. The flavor profile is described as spicy, strong, bold and brave but that maintains a worldly sophistication.
The Espada by Montecristo will debut in three sizes: a 5 x 54 called Ricasso, 6 x 50 dubbed Guard and a 7 x 56 named Quillon. The vitola names all draw from terms used in swords and knives in keeping with the name of the cigar, which is the Spanish word for sword. A ricasso is the unsharpened part of a blade just above the handle, while quillon and guard refer to the bar of metal where the blade and hilt meet.
Each will come in ten-count suede covered boxes with single stick prices between $11.25 and $12.50 before taxes. The cigars are made by the Plasencias in Nicaragua.
The release date is scheduled for July 1.
Samples Provided by Altadis U.S.A
Size: 6 by 50
Wrapper: Nicaraguan – Habano Jalapa Vintage 2010
Binder: Nicaraguan – Habano Jalapa Vintage 2009
Filler: Nicaraguan – Habano Jalapa Seco Vintage 2008, Habano Jalapa Viso Ometepe Vintage 2008, Habano Condega Ligero Vintage 2008
Smoke Time:1 Hour and 10 Minutes
Like the H. Upmann The Banker, the presentation of the Montecritso Espada is spot on with its triple band. The cigar feels solid in the hand with no soft spots to be found. The oils glisten off the medium tan Nicaraguan Habano wrapper that has only small veins. I am picking up very mild notes of cedar and cardboard off the wrapper, while the aroma off the foot of the cigar is much more appealing with raisin and chocolate notes.
The cap gets the job done but it is not the cleanest cap, making it hard to determine if a double or triple cap has been applied. But knowing how Altadis rolls, I am going with a double cap. My cutter has a difficult time clipping through this tightly packed cigar. Once cut, the draw is more snug than I would prefer, showing some rich cedar, chocolate and raisin and a small amount of spice is felt on my lips. Removing the middle band and foot band, I am now ready to fire up this Montecristo Espada.
The snug draw is resulting in low smoke production making me take multiple puffs to get enough smoke to discern any flavors. Pinching the middle of the Espada seems to open up the draw a bit more. The flavors in the first half inch of are pencil shaving-like flavor and coffee. The flavors are dark and somewhat bitter. Black, bitter coffee and cocoa sits on my palate for some time on the finish. The burn is thick and wavy but of no concern and the white, flaky ash is holding past an inch.
The second third brings along a similar profile as earlier, with a few minor tweaks. The dry cedar has shifted to a thicker oak flavor, some added citrus and sweetness has joined in, and the coffee is still holding strong. The sweetness is so faint that I am unable to identify what type of sweetness it is but it is rounding out the profile. As I burn to the halfway point of the Montecristo Espada, the smoke production has significantly increased. This is right around the area that I was pinching earlier to free up the draw. With the smoke production increasing, the flavors seem to be moving from medium to full as well.
The Espada Guard is burning rather quickly for a cigar of its size. The soft breeze passing by may be accelerating the burn rate. My mouth is feeling dry after each puff and a sip water is needed to refresh my palate. The pepper spice has picked up, as well as the cocoa on the finish. Just below an inch and half, the flavors have become a bit charred letting me know it is time to put this Espada to rest.
The Montecristo Espada has top notch branding and packaging. While removing three bands could be a bit irritating, they add more more than they take away from this cigar. I would give the performance of the cigar a B- with its snug draw, wavy burn at the start, and somewhat ugly and flaky ash experienced in the middle and final third. But overall, there were no touch ups and no real babysitting of the cigar. In regards to the flavors, I am a bit torn. The first third lacked in balance and had some bitterness. The faint sweetness that entered in the middle third brought balance to the profile. The middle and final thirds flavors were enjoyable, but I don’t smoke a cigar to only enjoy two thirds of it. I think additional rest and aginng of the Espada may relieve the bitterness in the first third. I am going to put my last sample away and revisit in 6 plus months.