Onyx Reserve cigars have enjoyed a very loyal following; now, this modern classic gets kicked up a few notches with the Onyx Esteli, created by AJ Fernandez. An all-Nicaraguan core gets treated to an almost pitch-black San Andrés wrapper; it sounds tasty on paper…but did Onyx Esteli pass our panel’s taste bud test? Watch now, and find out!
CA REVIEW PANEL: Montecristo Relentless Cigar Review (Video)
The Montecristo Relentless Cigars Back Story
Montecristo Relentless is a unique departure from the Dominican-made Montecristo cigars most American cigar smokers have come to know and love. Exclusive to Famous Smoke Shop, this Montecristo release is the second in the line. The former Relentless blend, “Relentless Original,” consists of Nicaraguan and Brazilian Mata Fina fillers, Mexican binder, and a blonde Ecuador Connecticut shade wrapper.
For this Montecristo Relentless selection, Altadis U.S.A. called upon the gifted Nestor Plasencia Jr. who went with an all-Nicaraguan-leaf blend. Made at Plasencia’s Estelí factory, the result is a medium-bodied puro that draws on tobaccos from Estelí, Condega, Jalapa, and Ometepe, and the difference is striking.
The Montecristo Relentless selection is rolled in four popular formats presented in boxes of 10 cigars and 5-packs: Magnum (6″ x 60), No.2 (6″ x 50 Belicoso), Toro (6″ x 50 parejo) and Robusto (5″ x 54). Watch the video now, and look below to get more of our impressions and tasting notes.
MONTECRISTO RELENTLESS CIGAR REVIEW – TORO
Country of Origin/Factory: Plasencia Cigars – Estelí, Nicaragua
Size: 6″ x 50
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Rosado
Binder: Nicaragua (Ometepe)
Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí, Condega, Jalapa)
Gary Korb’s Tasting Notes…
Construction: Excellent. Wrapper has a nice oily sheen. Rolling is virtually seamless and well-packed with a very silky feel. Cap is well-made and popped-off in a perfect circle.
Pre-light flavor: Nutty and toasty.
First few puffs: Creamy with a nice helping of sweet spices and a note of caramel.
Base flavors: Cashew, graham cracker, sweet spice, cedar.
Burn / Ash Quality: Very good. Burn is mostly even with a thin carbon line. Ash is on the firm side exposing a stacked coin aspect of dark grey and black.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.
Summary: A toasty, creamy, and well-rounded smoke. Notes of cashew, sweet spice, and a sliver of vanilla toffee greet the palate upfront. By the time the first inch of ash is revealed the flavors become more defined issuing a toasty, graham cracker-like sweetness. Caramelized flavors of cashew, graham cracker, and sweet spice are consistent through the first half, while a subtle layer of cedar ripples beneath the surface. Just past the mid-section, the spice shifts to a more peppery component, while an elusive tanginess enters the mix. The last couple of inches displayed some charry-woody bitterness. Those latter flavors notwithstanding, the baseline cigar was very enjoyable. Moreover, the Toro I smoked in the video wasn’t as bitter in the final stage.
For comparison-sake, cigar smokers familiar with the Romeo 505 Nicaragua (also made by Plasencia), will appreciate the Montecristo Relentless, as well as newer smokers looking for a less intense, yet solidly-built Nicaraguan puro. The Toro was delicious with coffee, but I can imagine that paring it with something like a Flor de Caña 12 Year Nicaraguan rum would be nothing short of sublime.
John Pullo’s Tasting Notes…
Construction: A very fine gingerbread color, nearly seamless; Habano wrapper is more velvety than oily.
Draw: Moderate resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Citrus, nut and cinnamon-like herbs.
Toasting & Light: Lights quickly, easily and evenly.
First Few Puffs: Creamy smoke with roasted nuts, sweetness, spice and wood.
Base flavors: Wood, earth, dry exotic spice.
Retrohale: Sharp spice and firewood, with a slightly floral hint after it finishes.
Aroma: Toasty, woody and slightly sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: Mostly even burn, ash holds well.
Balance of flavors: Not overly complex, does a good job at staying even keel on the flavors.
Summary: A fine brunette with interesting flavors. First few hits poke the taste buds: the smoke is creamy, the spice is kind of warm and fluffy, the sweetness is a bit muted.
Rips of smoke are pretty robust, and creamy too – you might sense the tiniest bit of sweetness mixed with grains and wood, plus dried and green herbs.
From there, the Relentless blooms with wood, earth and some exotic dry spices that I can’t put my finger on – cinnamon or nutmeg are the closest I can come to picking them out of a lineup. Body and strength are both medium, right down the middle lane; smoke is nice and thick. Stands up well to a relight.
The base flavors hold their ground throughout – so if you like those, you’ll be getting plenty of them. The fringe notes are the things that come and go, adding a touch of complexity; I’ll use the citrus taste as an example, which makes a bit of a return appearance toward the end (along with a salty, tingly sensation) as the warmth drops out of the spice.
In sum, not a radical departure from “the Montecristo way” – but it’s a noticeably different smoke than the Monte White or Classic, maybe more in line with the newer stuff coming from Altadis…think the newer Romeo y Julieta and Trinidad line extensions that have landed lately. Bonus: the Montecristo Relentless is easygoing enough to smoke in the morning, and will set up your day in a great way.
Fred Lunt’s Tasting Notes…
Construction: The wrapper is beautiful; a healthy chestnut brown with very fine veins and an oily shine.
Pre-light flavor: Foot: Wood, must, a slight peppery spice. Cold Draw: Toast, earth, and spices.
Toasting & Light: Lit very easy.
Initial notes: Very toasty and woody upfront. A slight creaminess and nuttiness in the background and a subtle hint of cocoa with a peppery finish.
Base flavors: Cedar, cashews, spice, coffee, and citrus.
Retrohale: A peppery spice, cedar, coffee, and a citrus tang.
Aroma: Very woody and sweet smelling.
Burn / Ash Quality: Perfect, very thin burn line and a snowy white ash.
Balance of flavors: Leans on the warm side of the spectrum, favoring bright, spicy and toasted flavors.
Summary: Whether it’s made by a big name or a no-name, a Monte is always a Monte. This Relentless started off with warm, rich sweetness marked by notes of cedar, sugar, berries, coffee and cashews. Though there’s complexity, the smoke is delicate and buttery. Over time a light floral note emerged with a honey-like sweetness, slight citrus tang and an earth and coffee combo on the finish.
As I progressed to the midway point, the Relentless arrived squarely at a solid medium body. The profile continues to be exceptionally buttery and creamy. In the flavor department there’s a lot of cedar, floral, slight sweetness, crisp bread and a warm spice that reminds me of nutmeg. This spicy/woody and wholly flavorful palette of notes carries on till the end, though a slight charred/meaty note steps out at the very end.
Overall, an exceptional cigar that’s good for smoking at any time of day, for any occasion. Pair with a floral or spicy Scotch, preferably Islay or Highland.
Tommy Zman’s Tasting Notes…
Construction: Beautifully made cigar
Pre-light flavor: Very woody.
First Few Puffs: Woody.
Base flavors: Woody.
Burn & Ash Quality: Perfect burn and ash.
Balance of flavors: Well-balanced, rich and complex.
Summary: This wonderful new, medium-bodied offering from Monte and company goes to show that a Nicaraguan puro doesn’t always have to be a full-bodied rocket-sled, yet, can still have a lot of deep, rich flavor. Now, I say it’s a new offering, but actually it’s more of a re-blending as they have ramped up the body and flavor from an Ecuador Connecticut, to a Nicaraguan Rosado wrapper with all Nic leaf inside. This stick has delicious complexity as tobacco is blended from all four growing regions, giving it an interesting profile of spicy sweetness, wood, and a nuttiness reminding me of cashews on the palate.
Made by the people at Plasencia, there’s no surprise here that it is rolled to perfection, delivering a draw full of tasty smoke and an ash with a near-perfect burn. I think this re-tooling of the Relentless is a nicely done upgrade from the original that has the right amount of flavor and strength to smoke any time of the day. I’d pair this after dinner with a great cup of coffee or a straight Kentucky bourbon with a hint of sweetness to cap off another day well-lived.