These hit the dock about 2 months ago, I loved the original box-pressed El Mejor, albeit slightly inconsistent but they were a hearty Nicaraguan puro with a beautiful and tasty Nicaraguan maduro wrapper. Now that they seem to have fallen off the face of the earth, this new "Espresso"-version appeared. The fact that it was called "Espresso" scared me for some reason, but now I'm smacking my head against the wall wondering why I didn't sprint to the dock when they appeared. "You idiot!" I've said to myself 20 times (after each cigar) as I burned through a whole bundle of the torpedos last week.
About 2 weeks ago, I was scanning the website and saw that 3 out of 4 sizes were already out of stock. Wait a second, could that be correct, they just came in??? Something doesn't smell right, could I have just missed a true bargain, our customers finding them out before I did. So, I reached deep into my nickel jar (and for about $2 a stick, I didn't have to reach far) to try for myself a sample or two of this strange phenomenon. Needless to say, those two didn't last long and I was quickly hoarding my own supply before the vultures cleared out the Torpedo size as well.
This is a genuine winner, the term "Espresso" characterizes its coffee-bean dark and oily Mexican maduro wrapper, there's no flavoring as the name might imply. Square-pressed much like the original, the gentle draw and ease of which you capture the complete flavor of this blend fills your senses quickly. The maduro wrapper offers a sweet start and spicy finish that lingers. The body is mild to medium with a delightful sweet aroma that quickly fills the room. I sense a slight coffee undertone, attributed to the typical richness of Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos. And rich it is, like smoking a Guinness Stout, so if you like your cigars flavorless and ultra-mild, skip this one. That's not to say it's strong, quite the opposite actually. You could smoke these all day without impairing your equilibrium.
These probably go enormously well with a hearty steak dinner, personally I paired it with a cheese-steak lunch and I couldn't be happier. The most wonderful aspect of this cigar is that the flavor holds steady throughout. Lately, I've been looking less for a cigar that "changes" as you smoke it. Perhaps I'm getting old and boring, but consistent has been more appealing to me. I like to know my slippers are in the same spot I left them this morning, so when I pick it up again after 5 minutes, I like to know it's the same it was before I set it down.
I'm not sure how this slipped my bargain-hunting paws, but I'm psyched to have been enlightened by a beauty that caught me off-guard. It'll never happen again, I promise.
As the saying goes, "beauty may only be skin deep, but ugly goes right to the bone." But this is one beauty that's got a pretty face and delivers the goods, in all respects from substance to flavor to construction to price. Bold statement. If you're a maduro nut, the new El Mejor "Espresso" blend will wow you. I received a small advance shipment a few weeks ago (the full shipment to arrive next week) and I gotta tell you, I was blown away. Keep in mind, I approached this blend with caution at first based on my experiences with the old El Mejor. See, the old El Mejor - the original green label - always flummoxed me. When it was good, it was truly great....and if you were patient enough, 6-12 additional months of rest in your humidor without exception turned a great smoke into an almost legendary smoke. Yep, that's right old friend....bordering on legendary. But the thing is, it tended to be spotty. For some reason the consistency just wasn't there from shipment to shipment: see, some months they were simply stunning while others you went home disappointed. Inconsistency like that is a killer. A cigar can be the greatest in the world when it's on, but if it's only good half the time that's a sure way to frustrate a brand's loyal following (and I know because I read the countless letters!). Recognizing this, the green label has been phased out until those consistency problems were ironed down. No doubt it will be resurrected some day hence, but the point of my telling you all this is so you don't confuse the two.
Having bored you to tears, let's move on to the new El Mejor Espresso ("maroon label") line: Espresso is made by none other than Nestor Plasencia in Esteli, Nicaragua. At first glance this thing is really gorgeous: it offers a jet-black, smooth, chocolately Mexican maduro wrapper that's very appealing, thick, oily and black as night. And combined with its crisp, hospital-corner-esque, tight square-pressed finish, the Espresso series looks like a chocolate candy bar. Light it up and it's got an initial smoky flavor and charcoal-like aroma. It settles down into a cool-burning cigar delivering deep, rich flavors including subtle nuances of cocoa and black coffee, even a touch of sweetness. Milder than you'd think, this lush, medium-bodied blend features a creamy texture and aromatic character. emitting incredibly viscous gobs of billowing smoke with each pull. The packaging? Well, it ain't sexy, just plain mazos of 20, nothing ornate. But the cigar speaks for itself and the incredibly reasonable price tag reveals nothing about the quality of the smoke inside. Highly recommended.