My first thoughts on this cigar were along the lines of, “Hey look, it’s another Montecristo add-on with enough band real estate to match the brand’s spinoff count.” The press release info contained all the corporate jargon I expected, with very little info about the cigar’s blend. There’s this:
“Like the original Montecristo Espada, the Montecristo Espada Oscuro is a Nicaraguan Puro. However, in addition to the excellent Nicaraguan tobaccos used for the binder and filler it also includes an extremely rare and well-aged Habano Rosado Oscuro wrapper. This special wrapper was discovered in the vast Plasencia library, by Rafael Nodal (Head of Product Capability for Tabacalera USA). Nodal along with Grupo de Maestro member Pedro Ventura and the Plasencia family worked together to find the perfect final blend.”
I love when these guys discover tobacco. Anywho, I guess that a Nicaraguan puro from Plasencia isn’t going to be all bad, regardless of the name on the label.
Montecristo Espada Oscuro Guard Breakdown
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Rosado Oscuro
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: Plasencia Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6″ × 50 “Guard” (Toro)
- Price: $13.80 (MSRP)
On this cigar’s six-inch length, there’s probably two and a half inches that is not covered by the multiple bands. The color scheme is fine, and the huge secondary band actually looks much nicer than the plain-Jane regular band. If I was in charge, I’d lose the regular Montecristo band (as it simply repeats that it’s a Montecristo Espada Oscuro) and center the secondary band in its place. After peeling off the giant secondary band, the wrapper is a pretty light-roast-coffee brown. The leaf shows a decent amount of oil, plenty of lumps and bumps, and a color gradient that makes the seams very visible.
Coming out of a hibernation of sorts, where cold wintertime temps have kept me from smoking anything remotely close to this size for the better part of the last four months, the 6″ x 50 size seems imposing. I’ve had one of these before, and I also know just how powerful it is in terms of nicotine strength. So I’m looking at this thing like it wants to hurt me. I shall soldier on. This cigar is absolutely rock hard from the primary band on up to the cap.
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There’s a very sweet, malty, yeasty flavor on the cold draw. It’s kind of a mixture of Banana Now and Later candy and Belgian waffle. There’s a faint plastic-y sensation after that, followed up by lots of sweet natural tobacco. The foot smells of a mild leathery funk, cocoa, and sweet yeast.
After lighting, I get plenty of nuttiness—really a full on nut and wood sort of profile. There’s a hint of drying black pepper, but it’s nearly devoid of any of the sweetness from the cold draw. After a few minutes, there’s more coming in and it sort of coalesces into a bowl of All-Bran cereal. Malty flavors lead a nifty wallop of some spice and citrus. These flavors are felt through a very creamy texture, like rich French Crème Chantilly, leaving the mouth with a very long, sweet finish. I’m taking it very slow with this cigar; as I mentioned early in the review, it’s a powerhouse in terms of nicotine strength. Nearing the end of the first third at about 30 minutes, the draw is starting to constrict, with the profile pegged at medium-plus in body and flavor and medium-full in strength.
With the tightening draw (and the onset of some bitter, unpleasant flavors), I inspect the cut end to discover the telltale signs of nicotine/tar blobs beginning to form. For what it’s worth, this cigar has been stored for a couple months at 65% RH. I clip a quarter inch off the head and the draw gets better—the flavor profile likewise returns to its former glory. Further along, the profile is starting to get a sort of boozy, sweet bourbon flavor, having me think this would probably pair pretty well with a white trash old fashioned. After a period of coasting, there’s a bit more pepper in terms of sensation, although the flavor profile seems pretty balanced. Bittersweet cocoa, some walnut-laden banana bread, and strong canned coffee play to the cigar’s dark character and sneaky strength. I’m no expert, but I imagine there’s some Jalapa tobacco in here, with that rich volcanic sweetness often associated with that region. I’m still not yet being knocked down by the strength, holding at medium-full, while the flavor and body maintain the medium-plus realm.
Entering the final third, the spiciness is kicking up, along with woodiness. The tang of mesquite, grilled, pepper-crusted meats twists itself into a more straightforward woody flavor—sort of akin to chewing a dry twig. Sweetness has faded under the piquant mesquite. Into the final inch there’s a big influx of minty herbs, finished with bitter baker’s cocoa. The retrohale is pure tobacco and pepper. Admittedly, it’s really not bad at all. The flavor ends with a little uptick to medium-full, with body at medium-plus and strength being pretty intense/full.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I could take it or leave it. It isn’t a bad cigar, but it was certainly stronger than I like (surprising for a Monte). This is absolutely an after-dinner cigar. You’ll probably want to have a sugary beverage next to you while you smoke it, even on a full stomach. It does have an impressively complex final third, which circumvents expectations. Considering the intensity, I still managed to find some pleasant floral notes that kept my attention. Construction was good, not great. The tar blobs and a couple relights hurt in that respect. It was engaging and, while not overly complex, it did have a nice progression of flavor.
- As many know, maduro is a term used to describe a dark wrapper shade, brought on from the extended fermentation needed to properly ferment certain leaf primings and varietals. Oscuro, on the other hand, is not necessarily an extension of that process, where the leaves ripen to a near black color (as the definition of the word implies). An oscuro shade typically designates a darker color without necessarily requiring further fermentation. This is more akin to the reddish hue described by rosado. Therefore, the lengthy Nicaraguan Habano Rosado Oscuro wrapper can be broken down to a dark class of rosado-hued Nicaraguan Habano.
- Doing these reviews of the “big brands” has certainly given me opportunity to appreciate some cigars that I’d definitely not go for on my own, eschewing them for more boutique style smokes… but I gotta say, the Montecristo Espada Oscuro was good.
- Flavor: Medium-plus
- Strength: Full
- Body: Medium-plus
- Nuts and wood
- Cocoa and malt
- Bourbon and banana
- Black pepper and rich tobacco
- Smoke Time: 2 hours
- Pairing Recommendation: White trash old fashioned | Sweet coffee | Mint julep
- Purchase Recommendation: Try a couple
- A nice, flavorful progression from start to finish
- Keeps you engaged for a loooong time
- Nicotine output tends to overshadow the flavor profile
- Some samples had draw/construction issues, including a dreaded tar buildup