At the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas, Altadis U.S.A. introduced a Montecristo branded product produced by AJ Fernandez called the Montecristo Nicaragua Series. Over the past few years, Tabacalera USA has turned to AJ Fernandez to produce new offerings in many of its brands in both the Altadis U.S.A. and Santa Clara Cigars portfolio. Brands we have seen produced by Fernandez include Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, Trinidad, and Gispert. With Montecristo Nicaragua, it is described as a project worked on by Altadis U.S.A. Director of Product Capability Rafael Nodal and Fernandez. While the previous Montecristo releases by Tabacalera U.S.A. have gone to either Santa Clara (Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez and most recently the Montecristo Vol 1 100 Days release) or have been extensions to Monte by Montecristo line (a more contemporary spin on Montecristo), the Montecristo Nicaragua is positioned as a more traditional offering in the Montecristo portfolio. Today, we take a closer look at the Montecristo Nicaragua Series in the Toro size.
The Montecristo is produced in Nicaragua at Fernandez’s factory. For many years, Montecristo was a staple brand out of Tabacalera de Garcia in the Dominican Republic, but in recent years there have been releases now coming out of Nicaragua. There have been eight Montecristo branded releases out of Nicaragua. While Fernandez has produced four, the other four have come out of another significant factory in Nicaragua, the Plasencia factory. In fact, the first Montecristo made in Nicaragua was 2014’s Espada releas..
- Espada by Montecristo (Plasencia SA)
- Espada by Montecristo Estoque (Plasencia SA)
- Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez(Tabacalera AJ Fernandez – Santa Clara release)
- Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez (Tabacalera AJ Fernandez)
- Montecristo Epic Craft Cured (Plasencia SA)
- Montecristo Nicaragua Series(Tabacalera AJ Fernandez)
- Montecristo Espada Oscuro (Plasencia SA)
- Montecristo Volume 1: 100 Days (Tabacalera AJ Fernandez – Santa Clara release)
Without further ado, let’s turn our attention to the Montecristo Nicaragua Series Toro and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The Montecristo Nicaragua Series is not only produced at AJ Fernandez’s factory in Nicaragua, but it consists of 100% Nicaraguan tobaccos.
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez de Nicaragua
The Montecristo Nicaragua Series is offered in four sizes – each presented in 20-count boxes
Robusto: 5 x 54
Toro: 6 x 54
No 2: 6 1/8 x 52
Churchill: 7 x 56
The Nicaraguan wrapper of the Montecristo Nicaragua SeriesToro had a medium brown caramel color with a slight Colorado tint to it. There also was a slight amount of oil on the wrapper. This was a wrapper with a slightly bumpy surface. There were some visible veins on the surface and some thin wrapper seams. The surface of the wrapper had some bumpiness on it.
There are two bands on the Montecristo Nicaragua Series. The primary band is the closest to a traditional Altadis U.S.A. Montecristo band that has been seen on all of the Nicaraguan-made Montecristo. The band has a black background with gold and red fonts. The center of the band has a circular design. At the center is a black circular field with gold trim. On that circular field is a gold fleur-de-lis logo symbolic of Montecristo. Surrounding that circle is a black ring with gold trim. On the top of the ring is the text “MONTECRISTO” in red font. The lower part of the ring is the text “NICARAGUAN SERIES” in gold font. The left and right sides of the band have the text “MONTECRISTO” in red font flanked by a gold pinstripe above and below it.
There is a secondary band just below the primary band that is black with gold trim. This band has the text “NICARAGUAN SERIES” in gold font. The left and right side of this band also has the text “MONTECRISTO” in red font.
Prior to lighting up the Montecristo Nicaragua Series Toro, a straight cut was used to remove the cap. From that point, it was on to the pre-light draw. The cold draw delivered a mix of natural tobacco, stone fruit (peaches), earth, and pepper. Overall this was a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to light up the Montecristo Nicaragua Series Toro and get right into the smoking phase.
The Montecristo Nicaragua Series Toro started out with notes of natural tobacco, earth, hay, and red pepper. It didn’t take long for more of the stone fruit (peach-like) notes I got on the retro-hale to surface. The natural tobacco and stone fruit notes moved to the forefront early. Throughout the first third, the natural tobacco notes seemed to have a slight edge over the stone fruit. There was more of a sweet component to the natural tobacco during the first third. Meanwhile, the earth, hay, and red pepper settled in the background.
During the second third, the natural tobacco notes took over as the primary note. While there was still a sweet component to the natural tobacco, there was a slight bitter edge that developed. Meanwhile, the stone fruit settled in the background with the earth, hay, and red pepper. There was a slight increase in the red pepper as the cigar progressed past the midway point.
As the Montecristo Nicaragua Series Toro entered the last third, some more bitterness developed with the natural tobacco. This bitterness didn’t throw the cigar off-balance, but it was still noticeable. Meanwhile, the stone fruit, red pepper, hay, and earth remained as secondary notes. This is the way the Montecristo Nicaragua Series Toro came to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
The burn of the Montecristo Nicaragua Series Toro maintained a straight burn. There was some unevenness on the burn line that did require touch-ups along the way. The number of touch-ups required wasn’t excessive, but slightly above the norm. The ash of the Montecristo Nicaragua Series Toro was firm with a mostly light gray color. Meanwhile, the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw to the Montecristo Nicaragua Series Toro had a touch of resistance to it. This is something I consider to be a plus when it comes to draw. At the same time, the Montecristo Nicaragua Series produced an ample amount of smoke.
Strength and Body
In terms of strength and body, the Montecristo Nicaragua Series Toro is one that can be considered dialed-back. It pretty much just has enough intensity to make it a medium strength, medium-bodied smoke. There wasn’t much variance in the intensity levels along the way. Both the strength and body balance each other out with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
The Montecristo Nicaragua Series Toro is a very good release under the Montecristo brand. If you are expecting a bold AJ Fernandez cigar, this is not going to be the cigar for you. The medium strength and medium body fit this cigar’s flavor profile very nicely. It also is a cigar that seems to capture the best of both worlds – it’s a cigar that smokes like a (non-Cuban) Montecristo and at the same time, it’s a cigar that very much has a Nicaraguan flair to it. The Montecristo Nicaragua Series Toro is a cigar I would recommend to a novice or experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, it’s a cigar worth purchasing and one that I would recommend smoking again.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Earth, Hay, Red Pepper, Stone Fruit
Burn: Very Good
Complexity: Medium Minus
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy One
News: Cigar News: Montecristo Nicaragua to Launch at 2018 IPCPR
Source: Purchased and Altadis U.S.A.
Brand Reference: Montecristo
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop