Montecristo Espada Estoque | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Upper Priming Nicaraguan Cuban Seed Viso Jalapa Vintage 2013
Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo Seco
Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo Seco Estelì Vintage 2009, Nicaraguan Criollo Viso Ometepe Vintage 2013, Nicaraguan Corojo Criollo Viso Condega Vintage 2013
Size: 6 x 50 “Torpedo”
Body: Full
Price: $14.50 MSRP ($10.80-$13.00 online)
Humidor Time: 10 weeks
Number of cigars smoked prior to review: 1

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Photos courtesy of Altadis USA:
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Today we take a look at the Montecristo Espada Estoque.
Thanks to a reader for sending me some sticks.
I visited several online stores that carry boutique brands. The IPCPR trade show should be banned.
Just about every single cigar runs $12-$15 per stick. Has the world gone mad? FDA? Baloney.
$60-$76 per 5 pack. With no guarantee that the blend is any better than a $6 catalog blend. I see that one of my least favorite brands, Caldwell, is looking at most of their cigars on sale or clearance. Serve up shit cigars for too much money; once in a while karma turns on its love light.

BACKGROUND:
Factory: Plasencia Cigars, S.A. (Nicaragua)
Debuted at the 2015 IPCPR trade show
Production: 5,000 boxes of 10

From the Altadis USA web site:
“Building on the success of Espada by Montecrsito (sic), the legendary brand returns with an extraordinary new belnd (sic). Named for the special, flat and elegantly shaped sword wielded by Spanish Matadors in the bullfighting arena, the ESTOQUE is a dark, full-bodied cigar filled with flavor and mystery that puts the same heritage and magnificence in your hand.

“The new ESTOQUE bursts with rare Vintage 100% Nicaraguan tobaccos, which are carefully cured, fermented and meticulously handcrafted by skilled artisans. It is made with an extraordinary blend of filler tobaccos ensconced in a Nicaraguan Criollo Seco Jalapa Vintage 2002 binder and finished with an Upper Priming Nicaraguan Cuban Seed Viso Jalapa Vintage 2013 wrapper.”

Clearly, spelling correctly is not very important on the Altadis web site.

Must not have been a popular cigar when over a year later a lot of stores are carrying the “limited production” Estoque. And prices have dipped quite a bit beneath the MSRP.
There is no shortage of reviews of this blend. And I keep reading: earth and leather, earth and leather, earth and leather…..plus coffee and chocolate, coffee and chocolate, and coffee and chocolate.

DESCRIPTION:
The whole stick is a giant billboard. Four bands. Two of which are attached via perforated paper.
I have to remove the secondary double band and the footer band to see what this cigar looks like.
It is a near flawless looking stick. No seams. Small and unobtrusive veins. An oily coffee bean colored wrapper that has a small amount of tooth.
Looking at the foot, I see an amazing sight. It’s round. Most sticks, unless you take them directly from the box are all malformed from handling and shipping.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I smell sweet honeysuckle, spice, pepper, bleu cheese, a bit of coffee, a touch of cocoa, cedar, and black cherries.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I smell red pepper, sweetness, bleu cheese, malts, chocolate, and coffee.
The cold draw presents flavors of chocolate malt, sweetness, pepper, cedar, and coffee.

FIRST THIRD:
The draw is a little tight and smoke is minimal. There is a large plug behind the cigar band so out comes the cigar awl and we are back in business.

Right away, I can tell this is going to be a very sophisticated smoke. Flavors are subtle but deliciously complex; and the tobacco has a nice extensively aged taste.
This will be an excellent example of how a cigar experience should build to a crescendo.
The char line is spot on.
Strength is medium body.

Flavors: Chocolate, malt, creaminess, coffee, caramel, cedar, a light citrus element, and pepper.
Surprisingly, I didn’t get that wonderful pepper bomb start that I expected to happen after snorting the tobacco for aromas. The spiciness is very minimal.

7a

Naturally, moments after I write the last sentence, spice appears in the form of black pepper. Getting stronger with each puff. A delayed reaction, I guess.
Strength leap frogs to medium/full.

More flavors: cinnamon, black raisins, black walnuts, and a smoky quality.

I’m surprised that so many cigars from this limited edition are still available after a year has passed since their release. I don’t know if it is just simply a bad rep or smokers got impatient and smoked the cigar green. I did try one 3 weeks after I received them and it tasted like hay. So I waited 2-1/2 months. And that did the trick. Now we have a very flavorful, character laden, aficionado’s blend.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 35 minutes.

I’m having no luck with the burn line. Once again, an expensive cigar rolled by cretins.
Cracks have formed below the cigar band where I used the cigar awl to clear the blockage. No matter how good a cigar tastes, construction issues are a big part of its final assessment. Montecristo should be ashamed of themselves for allowing their quality control to sink this low on such a “special” cigar.
Each time I must address the burn line, it takes away crucial time from the enjoyment of the blend.

I read a couple of reviews from the Big Guys and I swear I have no idea what they are doing. One simply describes the flavor profile with the word, “Vivid.” Another Big Guy says it has a “Bouquet of flavors.” WTF? How does this inform the reader? Use your imagination? I guess so.
And of course, the old standby: “earthleatherwood” elements…that cigar reviewers would be lost without.

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More flavors: Black licorice, black strap molasses, and cumin.
Complexity is full tilt. Transitions whoosh by in a dazzling display.

The blockage at the cigar band level seems to have healed and it is now made the draw difficult. Do I dare use the cigar awl again and really screw the wrapper up? Of course.
I can actually feel a breakthrough as the awl bursts through the plug. And yes, I fuck up the wrapper even more. This will affect my rating.

9a

The halfway point is upon me. I’m seriously conflicted about this cigar. The lousy construction is ruining the experience for me. The pre-review cigar I smoked had the same issues. It amazes me that the blender spent so much time getting the flavors right and then the production crew goes and fucks it up by using apprentices to roll the bugger.

The char line is a disgrace for a cigar in the $15 range. This is why you can buy the cigar for as much as $4 less than MSRP. And why they are still on the market a year later after releasing only 50,000 cigars.

Smoke time is 50 minutes.

Flavors explode. Right this friggin moment in time. They come rolling down the gang plank like the boat is on fire: Loads of creaminess, decadent chocolate and coffee, sweetness in the form of molasses and raisins, an array of malts, a tart citric essence, a wonderful smoky quality, black licorice, curry spices, cinnamon, and roasted nuts.

And now I don’t know if my stick is an outcast; nothing like the rest of its brethren or this is exactly what Montecristo blended and built.

Instead of taking photos of fixed burn lines, I shall now take them showing how bad it really is.

I did a quick audit of online stores carrying the Montecristo Espada Estoque: JR, Famous Smoke, Neptune Cigar, Corona Cigar, Cuenca Cigars, Cigar Place, and Mike’s Cigars. And that doesn’t include B & M’s.
These cigars should have sold out 6 months ago. But I guess the word on the street, from typically naïve smokers like me, thought they were getting something incredible only to be disappointed by the blend or the construction; or both.

What a mess:

10a

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is one hour 20 minutes.
Unbelievable. The sweet spot has landed. Flavors are mind boggling. Complexity is head spinning. Transitions of that kitchen sink list of flavors are amazing.
All ruined by lousy construction.

Then I get a dose of bitterness so I let the cigar rest hoping for the best.
Strength has reached full body. Fortunately, no sign of the dreaded nicotine. I think this may confirm the vintage aging process.
Bitterness begins to recede allowing flavors to re-exhibit themselves.
Normally, bitterness comes from tar. Excessive puffing. Which I don’t do. Go figure.

11a

The draw becomes difficult again. There is a new plug near the cap. Out comes the cigar awl for the third time and fixes it. No damage to the wrapper this time.
I wonder if there is a correlation between plugs and bitterness? I ask this question because now the bitterness is gone.
The rollers did a terrible job. The bunches were all done half assed. And the result is an unpleasant experience.

Who rolled these sticks? Chimps on holiday?

This is possibly the worst construction of a cigar in recent memory. As Daffy Duck would say: “Despicable.”

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RATING: 82 (The Montecristo Espada Estoque got this score based strictly on flavor profile…If there were no construction issues, or bitterness, I’d have rated the Montecristo Espada Estoque a 94)

11-20-2016: A month later. NO change for the better.

1-2-2017: Now 5 months of humidor time and I smoked my last one. DOG TURD WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE. What a waste of good money.

This has nothing to do with music.

I was watching the HBO show, “Blunt Talk” yesterday. Now my favorite TV show.
There was a scene where Patrick Stewart was with Leslie Ann Warren on a little pedal boat on Echo Park Lake. Located in L.A.

In 1992, I was in charge of the structural steel fab and installation for a huge project. I was working for a company in Mesa, Arizona.

The project was called “The Cathedral.” It was the biggest church I had ever seen on architectural plans. And it was right on the shore of Echo Park Lake.

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There was some heavy duty steel used for that project. The biggest headache was the giant X Frames made out of beams that were 48” tall, 20” wide, and 30’-0 long. They weighed over 300lbs per foot.
I remember about 25 X-frames were installed in this massive church.
Then disaster happened.

L.A. had a sizeable earthquake with the epicenter not far from Echo Park.
Building inspectors were brought in and a shit load of problems were found all over the building. Construction stopped. It wasn’t even safe to be inside the ginormous building but as contractors, we all had to be there for countless meetings.

I brought in 3 crews (7 men each crew) of iron workers to fix minor problems on the X frames and in the process, they discovered cracks in the majority of beams and connection plates.
Then they found cracks in all 25 X-frames. These frames, alone, were worth $50K each.

Turns out it all boiled down to a couple swing shift guys in the fab shop who punched the holes for the high strength bolts in the wrong place.
They discovered that they had drilled hundreds of holes, for 1-1/2° bolts, ½” in the wrong direction. Instead of coming clean…for fear of being fired….they put new holes in the right place making a round hole into a long slotted hole. Two 1-9/16° holes became a 3-1/8 slot.

So when the earthquake hit, everything shifted causing cracks in the concrete slabs and columns and beams above and below.

Sure, the two idiots at the shop truly fucked up. But the well paid iron workers should have read the erection plans correctly and it should have stuck out like a sore thumb that the bolt holes were now large slots even though the drawings showed round holes..not slots. They should have brought this to my attention. They should have brought it to the attention of their steward.

On top of that, the owner of the church was responsible for contracting out building inspectors to keep the iron workers honest and on task. The inspectors failed as well. The patients were running the nut house.

It added two months to the construction schedule for my company to fix the problems in the field. And it cost a fortune to do so.

Back in 1992, this was a $4.5 million job. Not a big job by today’s standards. But big enough for us…with the possibility of this job losing millions of dollars.

And here is the irony. There were 2 other PM’s besides me at this company. We all shared one assistant. She did all the clerical stuff.
Well, this young good looking bitch (She was 35) wanted to be a project manager. She told me this and I supported her by advising her that she should ask to be put into the drafting department so she can learn the trade. The only way to understand how things go together is by starting out on the board. Understand detailing. Understanding advanced math.

Oh no…she would not start at the bottom. She wanted to start at the top. I asked her that if a problem occurred in the field and she was called out to come up with a fix…what was she going to do if she didn’t understand steel or the complex math?

She told me she would tell them she’d get back to them…and then leave. I couldn’t help it. I laughed out loud. The presence of a project manager, with a problem that stops the job, is expected to solve it immediately on site. Iron worker crews sit idle. A crane sits idle. Disaster. So solving the problem right then and there was crucial.

Turns out she gave lots and lots of blow jobs to our general manager. That did the job. Of course, no one was aware of this.

Next thing I know, I’m being accused of doing a lousy job. In a meeting, I was told I was being demoted to the drafting department.

We had just moved to Arizona and I had zero contacts in Phoenix. I didn’t have a clue who to call. I had a wife and young daughter to take care of.

So I swallowed my pride and went upstairs to drafting. I had to take a $200 per week pay cut, but in the end, I was happier there. No pressure. I started in the structural steel industry as a draftsman so I wasn’t out of my element. And I love math. It was all advanced geometry and trigonometry. I loved that shit.

Back then, we didn’t have calculators that were mini-computers or even computers that did the math and the drafting. We had a drafting board, drafting arm, and a pencil. And a long list of theorems to prove the math…you know…like 8th grade…the Pythagorean Theorem…. a² + b² = c².

Guess what? That bitch was promoted to the PM department immediately.
This broad didn’t know her ass from a hole in the ground.

She took over my Cathedral project and made it 10 times worse. She didn’t do anything right. She fucked up everything she touched.

While my reputation was destroyed within the company when I got demoted (except in drafting) the assholes believed I wasn’t doing a good job…without knowing a single fact.

It took 5 months before the honeymoon was over. She personally caused the company millions of dollars in errors. Everyone finally realized I was framed. The GM came clean. The other management employees went ballistic.

I spent 5 months in drafting. By then, this bitch had just about taken down the company.
She was let go. I couldn’t have been happier.

The GM, who got to keep his job for some reason, took me to lunch and begged me to come back to project managing. He offered a raise and I said I’d think about it. I told him I liked the drafting department and had become chief draftsman which meant all I did was check other draftsmen’s work. I didn’t have to draw anymore.

My boss in drafting went nuts at the thought of me leaving. Steel draftsmen are the most nutsy coo coo people in the construction industry. None are reliable…most are drunks or have drug problems. And you never knew if they would show up for work.

The bitch found out that Karma is a bitch.

On this horrible woman’s last day, a going away party was scheduled at a fancy bar nearby.
I found out the following day that not a single employee showed up except for some drunk from the shop.
And The Cathedral?

That $4.5 million dollar job cost the company over $7 million to build.
And it wasn’t just fixing the X frame fixes. Once the bitch took over, she lost control of the entire job.

A daily example of ineptitude: She sent twelve 48’-0 trailers with 40,000lbs of steel per truck to the job site. Wrong steel. It was for another job. Had to bring it back from L.A. to Mesa, AZ.
But not once!
She did it twice! Only this time, it was only ten 48’-0 trailers.

I wish I hadn’t given up on music. But I fell in love with my Charlotte and options narrowed greatly. I never enjoyed construction. The stress was unbearable. Burn out happened often as the better I got at handling multiple jobs, the more the company piled on the projects. There was no way I could keep up handling over 20 jobs.

But like John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

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2 replies

  1. How many estoques you smoked? All have construction hassles? I have high hope of estoque since espada is so wonderful.