The Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez is a collaboration between Tabacalera USA and AJ Fernandez Cigars. It is a cigar distributed by Santa Clara Cigars, the brick and mortar distribution arm for JR Cigar. Tabacalera USA and AJ Fernandez both have had a history of collaborating with others. This project would turn out to be the first of (at press time) five collaborations with Tabacalera USA. Today we take a closer look at the Toro size in the Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez. I found this to be a very enjoyable cigar and one of the boldest cigars to date to carry the Montecristo name.
There have been five cigars Tabacalera USA has done in conjunction with AJ Fernandez. Two are being distributed by Santa Clara Cigars, while the other three are available through Altadis U.S.A:
- Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez (Santa Clara)
- Romeo y Julieta Crafted by AJ Fernandez (Santa Clara)
- Gispert Intenso (Altadis U.S.A.)
- H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez (Altadis U.S.A.)
- Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez (Altadis U.S.A.)
As mentioned earlier, Tabacalera USA has been getting more involved with collaborations. This includes Espada by Montecristo and Romeo 505 Nicaragua (with Plasencia), Romeo y Julieta Aging Room Small Batch F25 (with Boutique Blends), and Henry Clay Tattoo (with Pete Johnson of Tatuaje). However, the recent partnership with Fernandez is probably the most extensive to date.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez Toro and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The blend to the Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez features a four-country multi-national blend highlighted by an Ecuadorian Sumatra Oscuro wrapper. Production for the line is being handled at Tabacalera Fernandez in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra Oscuro
Binder: San Andres Mexican
Filler: Nicaragua, Honduran
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Tabacalera Fernandez)
The Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez is available in five box-pressed sizes. Each is packaged in 10-count boxes.
Figurado: 4 x 52
Robusto: 5 x 52
Toro: 6 x 50
Gordo: 6 x 58
Churchill: 7 x 50
The Ecuadorian Sumatra Oscuro of the Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez had a dark cinnamon color wrapper. There was a very light sheen of oil on the surface. There were some visible veins and the dark color of the wrapper did a good job at hiding the wrapper seams. The box-press wasn’t overly firm, but didn’t seem to have any soft spots to it.
There are two bands on the Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez.The first band is similar to the one on the Montecristo White Series. The center of the white band contains a gold fleur-de-lis with gold initials under it. The logo is surrounded by concentric red and gold rings. In between the rings is the text “MONTECRISTO” across the top in red font and “AJ FERNANDEZ” across the bottom in small red font. To the left and right of the circular design are red waves with the text “MONTECRISTO” in red font. The remainder of the band has gold trim.
The secondary band surrounds the footer. It is white with red and gold trim. On the white background is the text “Nicaragua” in gold cursive font. The AJ Fernandez “AF” logo is on the far left.
A large white sleeve covers most of the band. On the sleeve is the text “MONTECRISTO CRAFTED BY AJ FERNANDEZ”. The “CRAFTED BY” is in gold font while the remainder is in red font.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
I commenced the smoking experience by first removing the footer band and the sleeve of the Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez Toro. I then placed a straight cut into the cap and commenced with the pre-light draw ritual. The dry draw delivered a mix of coffee and cedar notes. Overall I considered this to be a satisfactory pre-light draw. I then lit up the Montecristo Crafted and prepared to enjoy the smoking experience.
The Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez Toro started out with a mix of coffee, white pepper, and cedar. The coffee and cedar notes became primary early on. The white pepper settled in the background. As the cigar moved through the first third, I detected some grass notes in the background. Meanwhile, I detected an additional layer of pepper on the retro-hale, but it had more of a black pepper varietal.
As the Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez Toro continued through the first third, the cedar and coffee notes alternated in intensity. There was also a slight uptick in the grassy notes. By the second third, the coffee notes got richer and took control with the cedar settling in the background. During the latter part of the second third, some of the pepper notes in the background present on the tongue increased.
The last third saw the pepper notes join the coffee in the forefront. There was still some cedar in the background, and by this point, the grassy notes had diminished. This is the way the Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez came to a close. The resulting nub was cool in temperature and slightly soft to the touch.
Burn and Draw
Burn-wise the Montecristo Crafter by AJ Fernandez performed quite well. There was a slight curvature on the burn line from time to time, but overall I didn’t find this to be a burn that was problemsome or in danger of getting off track. The resulting ash wasn’t overly firm, but it was far from loose and flaky. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
The draw to the Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez Toro performed extremely well. It was not too loose, nor was it too tight. I deemed it to have an ideal amount of resistance for a box press. The result is that this was a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
As mentioned, the Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez is the boldest cigar to carry the Montecristo name. This is a cigar that delivered medium to full strength and full-bodied flavors from start to finish. Overall I didn’t find there was much variance in the strength and body levels from start to finish. In terms of strength versus body, I found the body maintained an edge throughout the smoking experience.
There are two ways to look at a project such as the Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez. This could be a cigar that gravitates Montecristo fans to AJ Fernandez-styled smokes or, conversely, this could draw AJ Fernandez fans over to Montecristo. I tend to subscribe to the latter point as this gives Montecristo a bolder offering that allows for Altadis to tap into the strong base of AJ Fernandez cigars. Overall, I found this cigar to offer some nice flavors to complement the boldness. This is a cigar I still would steer toward a more experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is a cigar I’d smoke again – ant it’s worthy of a box split.
Key Flavors: Coffee, Cedar, Pepper, Grass
Burn: Very Good
Strength: Medium to Full
Finish: Very Good
Assessment: 3.5-Box Split