Cigar Review – Montecristo Espada “Guard” (Pre-Release)
Comprised of an aged Cuban-seed Habano wrapper and binder from Jalapa, and aged filler leaves from the Jalapa, Ometepe and Condega growing regions, the Montecristo Espada is the first Nicaraguan puro to bear the Montecristo name. This new project out of the Plasencia Cigars S.A. factory is a collaboration between Nestor Plasencia and Altadis USA’s famous Grupo de Maestros blending team.There has been a large influx of Nicaraguan puros hitting the market as of late, and while this is always great news for those who love Nicaraguan cigars, the emergence of so many new Nicaraguan blends creates added pressure for manufacturers to really come out with something special in order to stand out from the pack. For today’s review I fired up a sample of the Montecristo Espada “Guard” (6×50) to see if it would rise to the occasion.
This new Monte had a really nice, “upscale” presentation, but I had to remove most of the Espada’s ornate banding to get a good look at it. After removing the jazzy foot and mid-bands from the cigar I saw that the Espada’s Habano wrapper was a uniformly even, light-brown natural hue with an oily sheen and thin veins throughout. Pre-light draws gave off a taste of creamy cedar and an interesting cereal-like flavor.
The cigar lit up to a creamy and woody taste with some lingering white pepper on the finish. Smoke output was adequate and the starting burn was nice and straight. A little further in, the Espada’s flavor profile opened up to include a new robust, bready and nutty flavor with nuances of nutmeg and cinnamon. Although this stick was smoking extremely smoothly during this portion, a quick retrohale assured me that this was in fact a cigar with some substantial body to it.
During the 2nd third of the smoke the Espada began to hit its stride, with all of the previously mentioned tasting notes coming together in a great balance with some brown sugar sweetness on the finish. Flavors were layered and relaxed with an ever-present spicy zest. I was now sporting a solid 2 1/2″ ash on top of the razor-straight burn line and it was also during this portion that I began to feel the strength of the cigar. Nothing too powerful, but certainly apparent.
While this smoke had been sufficiently enjoyable from the start, it was here in the last stretch of the cigar that it really won me over. Suddenly a new creaminess swept in, which worked well to offset the rich flavors of cashew, nutmeg, black pepper, and leather that were now popping up all over the place. This dense new dimension of flavor almost seemed to be visually represented by the thicker and fuller plumes of smoke now pouring from the cigar with each draw. I had been patient for the first 4 inches of the cigar, and this excellent and intriguing last portion was the reward.
The Montecristo Espada turned out to be far more engaging than I had anticipated and really just got better and better as it went on. Based on my initial impressions, I would never had suspected that this would evolve into a full-fledged flavor-bomb. No offense to Montecristo, but it’s not a brand that one usually associates with complexity, especially of this caliber. Construction of the cigar was also great, I had absolutely no burn issues and the chunky ash hung on for nearly 4″ before dropping off. Hearty flavors with depth and transition combined with a flawless burn performance earn the Espada an enthusiastic B+ grade in my book. In an industry now flooded with Nicaraguan smokes, this one manages to hold its own and is definitely worth a shot. I have the feeling that many smokers will be surprised when they light up the Espada and discover that not only has Montecristo entered into the arena of new-school blending, but they did it better than most of the new guys. Under all those pretty bands lies a cigar that you won’t want to miss.