I want to thank Kevin Boudreaux, one of our most devoted readers, for writing me to inquire about the Montecristo Espada “puro”, seeking my opinion. That email gave me the idea for this pairing using the Robusto from that line.
The Dominican Montecristo is produced in the city of La Romana, a beautiful region with an ideal weather for tobacco processing. Operating under the umbrella of Altadis USA, Tabacalera de Garcia S.A.S. is the world’s largest employer when it comes to cigar workers. It is very impressive to see how many halls they have with “torcedores” producing mountains of cigars, and the ample tobacco aging cellars. They produce brands such as Trinidad, Por Larrañaga, H. Upmann, Romeo y Julieta (Dominican Tobacco), Santa Damiana and Don Diego, among others.
All my interactions with these brands have shown them to be tobaccos with a medium level of intensity and, even though some of them claim a stronger profile, honestly I never considered them when I wanted an after-dinner cigar (they were never among my top choices). But when I received Kevin’s email, I looked into how this particular cigar is made and I became very intrigued about pairing it.
Montecristo Espada is the result of a joint venture between the Montecristo brand and a famous Nicaraguan tobacco grower, Mr. Néstor Plasencia: the result was something very unique. This union provided an opportunity for the “Grupo de Maestros” (Montecristo’s Blending Team) to have full access to the secrets from Plasencia Cigar in the Jalapa Valley, in Nicaragua. The team worked for months to achieve the perfect blend, very different from all other Montecristos I had tried before. Montecristo Espada is now finally available for sale in the market. It is produced 100% from Nicaraguan tobaccos, including its Habano wrapper from 2010 and inside it is rolled with aged reserves from the Plasencia line.
Under this name we can find Churchill, Toro and Robusto formats, which are very popular amongst their followers. The cigars also feature a medium to heavy body, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.
First of all, I had to find a rum that would be up to the challenge of the pairing. Then I remembered my friend Karl Canto, Master Distiller from Demerara Distillery, very passionate about the rum craft, and I selected one of his jewels: El Dorado 15 Years Old. I am fascinated by the congener notes found in the rum, with unmistakable and unforgettable toasted orange peel notes.
Well, it is time to light up the cigar. The first thing I notice is that it has 3 rings, very ornamental, as a testament to the union between the companies. The wrapper is immaculate, with an excellent finish. The veins are barely perceptible, which speaks volumes about the excellent care during the plant’s growth. I lit it up using matches, out of respect for tradition.
The first third of the cigar surprised me completely, in the best possible way. I was particularly pleased with the draw (I’m not saying Dominican cigars don’t have a good draw) and somewhat aggressive, intensity-wise. This is true to the information in the cigar’s technical sheets, all very appropriate for a Robust format.
As I was enjoying the first third of the cigar, the El Dorado 15 was also carrying out its share of the pairing outstandingly. At the beginning the notes I was getting reminded me of toasted pine nuts with a pinch of sea salt, followed later by freshly brewed coffee, then dried fruits, nuts and spices.
It is absolutely necessary to have the right rum for this pairing to work. In this case, the rum’s orange notes, combined with brown sugar and caramel, are a perfect match for a cigar with this intensity. The pairing is designed to last about 30 minutes, filled with rich aromas and flavor. At the end of the 30 minutes you should reach the end of the second third of the cigar, which also marks the end of this particular pairing.
I highly recommend this as an after-dinner pairing, I hope you will be able to duplicate it at home. Thank you Kevin for asking about this cigar, it was a great experience for me to be able to explore it.
I want to invite all readers with questions or recommendations, no matter how rare or difficult the topic may be, to write me directly at email@example.com so we can work together on future pairing experiences.
Philip Ili Barake