Over the past ten years, I have covered the cigar industry, I have seen various cigar companies launch ambassador programs. Ambassador programs target consumers who can act as influencers for a brand or product. Ambassadors are typically not paid, but given incentives through other mechanisms. Quite frankly, when it comes to the cigar industry, most of the ambassador programs have failed. When I heard Micallef Cigars was launching its own ambassador program, I was highly skeptical since I had seen many others fail. However, as I started to research the Micallef Cigars project, I discovered that Micallef was doing something very different with its program – namely it was incorporating the Micallef Ambassadors as a key component in the overall business strategy. The company was looking to its ambassadors to be true influencers, and at the same time it was soliciting feedback from them to shape the company’s priorities, productions, and direction. This is where the Micallef A comes into play. It’s a cigar that pays tribute to the Micallef Ambassadors and the Ambassadors played a key role in the naming of the cigar. Today we take a closer look at the Micallef A.
The Micallef A had a very unique launch. Back in March, Micallef had a cigar they wanted to introduce for the one year anniversary of the Micallef Ambassadors program. At the time the cigar had not been named, but Micallef opted to release the cigar under the name Micallef To Be Named (TBN). In the meantime, Micallef would work with the ambassadors to name the cigar. Along the way, the TBN was a huge hit – selling out in 36 hours. Eventually the name Micallef A was selected with the “A” honoring the Micallef Ambassadors. The cigar was released to brick and mortar retailers this past summer.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Micallef A and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The blend for the Micallef A features tobaccos from three countries highlighted by a dark Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper. Production is done in partnership with the Gómez Sanchez family at the Micallef Cigars factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Maduro
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory Micallef Cigars S.A.
The Micallef A is offered in one size – a beefy 6 3/4 x 54 Churchill. It’s a cigar that is currently available in 20-count bundles with 24-count boxes coming in 2021.
The Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper of the Micallef A had a dark chocolate color to it. There wasn’t much in the way of oil on the surface of the wrapper. There were some visible wrapper seams and some visible veins, but overall the surface of the Micallef A was relatively smooth.
There are two bands on the Micallef A. The primary band has a mostly blue background with a blue, red, and gold trim. On the center of the band is the red and blue Micallef family coat of arms surrounded by a gold wreath and the head of a knight above. The upper center of the band has the text “MICALLEF” arranged in curved font while the lower center of the band has the text “CIGARS” arranged in a curved section. The left side of the band has the text “HANDMDE BY GOMEZ SANCHEZ FAMILY” and the right side has the text “FABRICA DE TABACOS ESTELI NICARAGUA” – both in small gold font. The remainder of the band has various gold adornments on the side.
The secondary band is mostly blue with gold trim. On the center of the band is a red circular field with gold trim. On the center of that field is a gold “A”. In addition the there are some gold adornments on the side of the band.
Both the primary and secondary band have images and text on the back. The primary band has an image of two hands shaking with the text “TWO FAMILIES” above it and “ONE LEGACY” below it. The secondary band has the text “The Micallef A is a Celebration of our Ambassadors.”
Prior to lighting up the Micallef A, a straight cut was used to remove the cap. After the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw phase. The cold draw had a mix of leather, earth, fruit, and some mineral notes. Overall this was a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point it was time to light up the Micallef A and see what the smoking experience would bring to the table.
The Micallef A started out with notes of coffee, chocolate, mineral, and citrus notes. Sometimes there is a fusion with coffee and chocolate notes that I will refer to us “mocha”, but in the case of the Micallef A the notes remained separate and distinct. The chocolate and citrus notes moved into the forefront while the mineral and coffee notes settled in the background. On the retro-hale was a layer of black pepper and some citrus notes. Toward the end of the first third, the black pepper emerged on the tongue.
At the start of the second third of the Micallef A, the chocolate and citrus notes were still in the forefront. As the Micallef A moved through the first third, the chocolate notes gradually diminished in intensity while the coffee notes increased in intensity. By the midway point, the coffee moved into the forefront and the chocolate settled in the background. There also was a slight decrease in the citrus notes, pushing them into the background.
Later in the second third, there was an increase in the mineral and pepper notes, but this increase leveled off by the start of the final third. During the final third, there wasn’t much of a change In the flavor profile. The coffee notes remained primary with the citrus, chocolate, mineral, and pepper notes secondary. When the Micallef A came to a close, the resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
The Micallef A was a cigar that required a frequent amount of touch-ups to maintain a straight burn line and straight burn path. While the touch-ups did the trick to keep the burn on track, I found there were more touch-ups needed than I prefer. The resulting ash was on the firm side with a salt and pepper color. Meanwhile the burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
The draw of the Micallef A was open, but not loose. Normally I prefer a little more resistance on the draw, but in the end this was a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
Don’t let the dark wrapper of the Micallef A fool you. This is a maduro that is very much on the dialed-back side. This is a cigar that started out mild to medium in strength and body. There was a slight increase in the intensity levels of both the strength and body, but in the end the cigar still remained in the mild to medium range.
Micallef’s ambassador program was one of several initiatives the company has been rolling out to strengthen its commitment to brick and mortar retailers and consumers. Micallef has done a great job at executing these programs, but ultimately it comes down to the products. With the Micallef A, the company has delivered a fantastic cigar that these initiatives can make use of. The cigar excelled in the most important category – flavor. The flavors worked wonderfully with the dialed back strength and body this cigar delivered.
Most importantly, this is a cigar that can be smoked by anyone, at any time. It’s a cigar I would certainly smoke again – and it’s one that garners box or bundle purchase consideration. Coming in at a score of 91, it’s a cigar that exceeds the Cigar Coop threshold for standard of excellence.
Key Flavors: Coffee, Chocolate, Citrus, Mineral, Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Draw: Very Good
Strength: Mild to Medium
Body: Mild to Medium
Finish: Very Good
Value: Box Worthy Consideration
News: Micallef Cigars Announces Name and Release of the Micallef A; Honoring the Micallef Ambassadors
Brand Reference: Micallef Cigars
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop