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. Spark 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. smoother 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.