The Matilde Serena has been around since the latter part of 2016. This cigar was created to give a full lineup of flavor profiles—from mild to full—across the Matilde portfolio. It makes sense to have a Connecticut in the mix, as the company was started by a 40-year vet in the cigar industry, José Seijas, who had spent many years working as the V.P. and G.M. at Altadis’ colossal factory in the Dominican Republic (responsible for the non-cuban versions of Montecristo, H. Upmann, and Romeo y Julieta, among others). Many of these are mild, old-school-style Connecticut cigars that are considered by some (not me) to be good beginner smokes. While these may not be hot in the connoisseur’s realm, they were considered à la mode for decades in the U.S., and are still widely prevalent, especially with newer smokers (before the “Dojo Effect” takes hold, anyway). When considering that the “new-school” Connecticut is becoming a prevalent style in today’s market, it seems a no-brainer to introduce it here.
The Matilde Cigars website states:
With a mild-medium body, Matilde Serena is the mildest of our family. A perfect cigar for a novice smoker or to simply start your day. It will fill your palate with a creamy finish filled with sweetness.
Matilde Serena Corona Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder: Dominican
- Filler: Dominican | Nicaraguan
- Factory: Tabacalera Palma (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5½″ × 44 (Corona)
- Price: $7.20 (MSRP)
The corona: the world’s best cigar size. Why is it the best? Not only because it’s the perfect ratio of filler to wrapper, but also because its smaller size—and therefor shorter smoking time—allow for more cigars to be consumed throughout the day. It’s a win-win, at least in my humble opinion. This particular corona sports a kind of lackluster double cap, tight seams, and a bit of oil on the caramel-brown, lightly veined wrapper. The oil is more of a haze than a sheen, as this cigar lacks the glossy gleam commonly featured on many Connecticuts.
When looking at the cigar’s band, I have an almost identical experience as the first time I smoked a Matilde. It strikes me, initially, as something that is not particularly attractive. I thought to myself, “That’s a bad design, poorly executed.” But then I look a little deeper. The gold foil reflects light such that I don’t really see the whole picture initially. Rotating the cigar, really looking at it, it has kind of an a-ha! moment to it. The Matilde font is not sloppy, it’s an attractive art-deco style. The main art isn’t simply a chaotic, ugly “S,” but simultaneously displays the silhouette of a woman surrounded by intricate leaves. And still, if I only glance at it, it’s kind of ugly. I find myself chuckling that I am following nearly the same train of thought as the first time I smoked Matilde; it is kind of funny to repeat the whole experience, from initial distaste, to the “getting it” moment, to the sort of ambivalence at the end.
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I love the aroma from the foot of this thing—sweet cereal (Cinnamon Life?) and graham, with the sweetness attaching itself to rich tobacco. The wrapper smells of grains (oats come to mind in particular), with some spiciness tingling the nose behind a faint flinty earth quality. The delicate wrapper cuts like butter with my punch cutter, and the cold draw is just sublime. There are savory, sweet, and creamy custard flavors with the perfect resistance.
My initial reaction to this cigar that, yeah, it’s a new-school Connie. It’s got that creaminess at the front, followed by that punch of pepper (particularly if you enjoy retrohaling) that will linger on the palate… not particularly due to its intensity, but perhaps due to the lack of competition for sensory experience. Aside from the creaminess, the only other thing I really notice is a vegetal note. Yep, pepper-cream-grass. Sadly, there is not much else happening within the first inch. I want some sweetness! Some coffee! Something! The vegetation note gets stronger. As I pontificate about the cigar’s band, I make it through the first third in 23 minutes, waiting for something to happen. It’s pretty mild in strength, as advertised. The body and flavor output is medium in all the wrong places, as the most unattractive elements seem to stand out the most.
I guess that this is as good a time as any to determine the mark of the second third, as there seems to be something coming alive at this point. There’s a little salty graham and eggy sweetness that kind of dumbs down the vegetal note, and the pepper has mellowed. It is here that I really discover that this cigar is not going to be great if I smoke too fast. Taking huge ripping draws, or puffing too fast, makes the Serena kind of transform into a combination of bland and bitter, which I shall now coin as blatter. But when smoked slowly, gently, there is a sweet fresh fig flavor that livens up the overall experience. For a few brief moments I swear that I taste a delicious fatty/sweet tonkotsu ramen dish. This is definitely moving forward now. Sweetness reigns, with the creaminess and pepper swirling and mutating to provide new, complex flavors with each draw. Slowly, gently, take the time to appreciate the experience, like the woman on the label itself—see it for what it is. I am flirting ever so dangerously as I try to pull every flavor out of her, attempting not to disturb the underlying bitterness that lies just beneath the surface.
At the 55-minute mark, the sweetness takes on honey, nougat, and cashew tones (like Bit-O-Honey candy), and the bitterness becomes a useful feature, as it begins to transform into a pleasant oak/cinnamon allspice. It seems that slowly, gently, the passions of this beautiful lady have been stoked, as she whispers to me now, don’t stop. This is a complete one-eighty from the first third. My lips tingle, the finish stretches long enough that I’m layering the flavor of each new draw upon the remains of the last. The pepper returns and folds over itself. There’s now a piquant cola flavor layered over sweet pastry cream, further layered over smoky oak. If I were a drinking man, I’d have a match made in heaven with my favorite scotch whiskey right now. Better and better, sweeter and spicier, rounder and fuller, Serena pays back all the attention and effort and patience I gave her through the early going, as this cigar finishes with an astounding climax. Full in flavor, medium-full in body, and a pretty surprising uptick in strength that sets it beyond medium, the Serena Corona comes to a close—I’m spent.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Undoubtably. The price on these is ridiculous for how good it is; it could easily retail for twice as much. This is a cigar that defies its own expectations, being marketed as a mild cigar for novices or a morning coffee smoke. This is actually a powerhouse of intensity, with flavors that, properly coaxed with patient smoking, will take you to truly unexpected places. The only issue I had—and this lowered the score for me from being great (which it was, in the final half-hour) to to being only very good—was the first third. It was sort of boring at first, flirting with blandness and bitterness at its worst. It bears repeating, however, that this cigar is so good in the end that even the lackluster beginning seems less of a subtraction from the overall experience, but more of pacing towards the eventual climax.
- Flavor: Near-full
- Strength: Light / medium
- Body: Medium-plus
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Scotch | Cortado | Water
- Purchase Recommendation: Box worthy
- Perfect size
- Depth of flavor
- Excellent value
- Boring first third
- Gotta take it slow