3 Jul 2013
Back in 2006, if you were to ask me to name my favorite cigars, I almost certainly would have mentioned Dona Flor’s Alonso Menendez. To this day I remember that smoke as capturing the flavor of moist chocolate cake like none other.
So I was disappointed when Dona Flor disappeared for a number of years. Evidently, shortly after the brand was introduced to the U.S. in 2005, legal issues arose that blocked domestic distribution. Then, about a year ago, Chris Edge—a Denver-based cigar enthusiast and businessman—brought Dona Flor back to North America. Several new blends were part of Dona Flor’s reintroduction, including Seleção.
Now Chris Edge is also bringing Alonso Menendez back, with a different band but presumably with the same recipe as the 2006 variety. The Brazilian puro features a Mata Fina wrapper, Mata Fina binder, and a filler mix of Mata Norte and Mata Fina tobaccos. The intent is to create a fuller-bodied cigar “with the same lush, creamy, smooth smoke that the Mata Fina tobacco is known for,” according to Edge. The cigar is manufactured in Brazil by Felix Menendez (his brother, Benji, started the Alonso Menendez brand in 1980).
Brazilian-wrapped smokes are never going to be as aesthetically appealing as those from, say, the Dominican Republic. Mata Fina and Mata Norte leaves are, by definition, a little rough around the edges. But the five-inch Alonso Menendez Robusto doesn’t make a bad first impression. While the wrapper is a little lumpy, this is overshadowed by the fragrant tobacco’s pre-light notes of chocolate and sweet hay.
And after all, taste is what really counts. That’s why it’s a treat to light up the Robusto and find a very familiar, very approachable, profile of milk chocolate and coffee bean. Tons of flavor yet very little nicotine kick and only the faintest black pepper spice. Call it nostalgia—call it whatever you want—but this cigar takes me back, and I like it. Only some sour notes in the final third detract from my overall experience.
The Robusto’s construction thankfully doesn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of the flavor. The burn line is very straight and requires no touch-ups to stay even or lit. The gray ash holds firm. And the draw is smooth with each puff producing lots of smoke.
My colleagues and I have written about how our tastes change with time. That’s no doubt true. Yet I’m still a big fan of this smoke, and I’d wager there will always be room in my humidor for a cigar that reminds me of moist chocolate cake. Keep an eye out for more information about Alonso Menendez—including availability and prices—following this month’s IPCPR Trade Show. For now, I award the Robusto a stellar rating of four stogies out of five.
[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]
photo credit: Stogie Guys