This - this! - is why we spend so many hours in Central America. Here’s a gem of a blend we discovered in Esteli, Nicaragua. Morro Castle is a heralded old Cuban brand that’s been given an extreme AJ Fernandez makeover, and came out all aces. It’s a complicated character: a bit of a flashy showoff, some signs of being a rugged individualist, somewhat sophisticated, can be rakish at times....but 100% classic to the core. What you’ve got here is a trophy wife - but one that shotguns beers, loves ’brats, and knows more about football than you. In short, sign me up.
The wrapper is a luscious, Ecuador Sumatra number that’s silky and loaded with oils. Its filler blend a premium, well-aged recipe of Cuban-seed Nicaraguan and Honduran long-leaf tobaccos. Morro Castle flows out flavor including a smooth and creamy array of oak, nuts, coffee, and pepper. Well-balanced, medium in body, complex, and delicious down to the very nub.
Lately I’ve noticed a ton of old, classic toys have returned....complete with retro-packaging hearkening back to the days they were first released. The Easy-Bake Oven. The Music Box Teaching Clock. The Two Tune TV. These were awesome toys. At first glance, they may not seem like a lot of fun compared to the toys youngsters are spoiled with these days....but I’ll be damned if I am not a sucker for classics.
Fast forward to yesterday. I received an email from a Mr. Murphy, reminding me that it’s been some time since my last review. Seems to be a theme of mine as of late. Anyway, I promised him a review, forgot, and started thinking again – for some odd reason – about these classic toys. This afternoon, it hit me....why not review a cigar I’ve burned through dozens of over the past few months. One that encompasses this very classic feel. That said, I pulled a Morro Castle out of my desktop and fired’er up.
Morro Castle defines classic. The band is beautiful. A gorgeous, gold-embellished piece of art that looks familiar at a glance, but is anything but ordinary. Then there’s the image. An impressive portrayal of the historical light tower of Morro Castle – Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro – guarding the entrance to Havana bay in Havana, Cuba. Beautiful....something I’ve seen a thousand times before but never done quite this well. Finally, the wrapper leaf. An absolutely scrumptious looking Sumatra sun-grown leaf from Ecuador with deep colors, tons of oils, and a slightly reddish-hue that screams old world. Ahhh....nothing – and I mean nothing – beats the feeling of nostalgia when lighting up a good cigar.
That promise of nostalgia, Morro Castle delivers. The cigar opens with a bang, thanks to the Cuban-seed blend of aged Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos inside. The tingly on my palate is a sign of quality, aged ligeros expertly blended and tamed by softer, sweeter leaves within. The smoke is creamy and heavy, like a velvet blanket on my taste buds leaving behind a long and luxurious finish. Oak dominates and soothes my senses when combined with the warm, toasty aroma – and shortly after the initial light this oaky influence bids the gentle spices adieu, but welcomes a soothing series of nuts and coffee as it gradually enters the bouquet. These flavors remain constant through the second third of the cigar, just as things start to heat up and the flavors become richer in character. The finale is eventful, and rolling the smoke around in my mouth for a bit before exhaling tells me there’s a lot going on beneath this lovely wrapper, especially towards the end. Then, just as I think the cigar is finished, a spice sneaks its way back into the aftertaste – a fitting and surprising ending. Almost as surprising as the mellow, medium-bodied strength of this complex cigar.
Nostalgia. Me likey. I’ll be back for more very soon.
If you’re like me, you love to press your nose up against the CI candy store and ogle over the latest batch of tasty new offerings to arrive. Yum, the scrumptastic looking Ave Maria! Ooooh, the devilishly rich Diesel Unlimited! Drew Estate’s succulent Tabak Especial Red Eye blend. The heavenly Cuba Libre One and tantalizingly zesty Cu-Avana Punisher (oops spilled the beans early on those two). Like a roll in the catnip.
Morro Castle is just such a new and mouth-wateringly enticing blend….arriving any day from Nicaragua, this sucker is gorgeous: an old world, traditional, refined blend that’s medium to medium-full in body and built for any palate. Off the bat, she’s a looker. On this, there can be no argument. An old Cuban brand given a breath of new life, the name Morro Castle refers to Cuba’s iconic landmark, a 400+ year old fortress guarding the Havana Bay. The artwork on the bands and boxes is classic, elegant, understated….just plain awesome if you ask me. You didn't ask, yet I will foist my half-baked opinions on you anyhow!
As you can see Morro Castle had me at hello. Don’t worry lads, I haven’t gone totally marshmallow on you. The list of substantive reasons why I love this cigar is long and distinguished. Oh – let me count the ways! Its wrapper is Ecuador-Sumatra, a one-of-a-kind leaf that’s silky and oily to the touch, boasting a charming, golden-brown color. Its long fillers a well-aged Cuban-seed blend of tobaccos from Esteli, Jamastran, and Ometepe. To fully appreciate its flavor profile and rich character, smoke Morro Castle slowly and deliberately. (And another thing: floss twice daily and alternate lanes when merging.) Seriously though, try taking about one puff per minute. Immediately, two things will become clear: its draw is ideal, with a smoothness that’s undeniable. The smoke is thick and almost milky, layered with a distinctive taste nuts, earth, pepper, and a slightly floral finish. A warm, hearty, pure tobacco taste – completely balanced and delicately nuanced – dominates. It does not possess that raw power and head-spinning complexity the way many new blends are trending; rather it’s a graceful, easy-smoking brew with a honeyed texture and medium-bodied flavors that linger pleasingly on the palate before dissolving into thick, billowing clouds of gray smoke on the exhale. Throughout the burn, the profile remains consistent, which in this case is a big positive.
A very, very good blend you’ll enjoy over and over again. With an eminently reasonable price structure (starting at under $4 apiece), Morro Castle is a guilt-free go-to cigar and a tremendous super-premium value.