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Staff Reviews

Montecristo AJ Fernandez Staff Review

Tom O. O's picture

Tom O.

I’m smoking a 4.25-by-54 Robusto in the Montecristo AJ Fernandez blend, also called Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez. There are both a lot of Montecristo and AJ Fernandez cigars to keep track of these days. Besides blending a sizable portfolio of his own brands, cigar-maker AJ Fernandez produces cigars for several other brands, including Cuban-legacy labels Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta. He even blended Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua, the 95-rated ‘#2 Cigar of the Year’ for 2021 in Cigar Aficionado.

Montecristo as imagined by AJ Fernandez, in Nicaragua, is a departure from the traditionally mild Dominican Montecristo cigars you’ve likely smoked before. The brand’s parent company, Altadis U.S.A., has released a handful of Nicaraguan blends in the last few years to appeal to fans of stronger cigars, and turning to AJ blend them has proven fruitful.

Montecristo AJ Fernandez is packaged in flat yellow boxes of 20 cigars with an oversized Montecristo logo – the famous triangle of cutlass swords – on the lid. When you crack a new box open, a hearty aroma of fresh tobacco, coffee beans, and pepper permeates the air. The cigars look impressive in a perfectly uniform row, while a pair of gold-and-black cigar bands adorns each cigar.

A dark and oily Cuban-seed wrapper grown in Ecuador covers a meaty blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican long-fillers tucked inside a Criollo ’98 binder cultivated in Nicaragua. AJ grows all the filler tobaccos for this Montecristo edition on his expansive network of farms. This chunky Robusto hosts ample amounts of chocolate and pepper when I clip the cap and take a few cold puffs.

The cigar draws easy with just the right resistance as I blast the foot with my torch lighter. In the first couple minutes, Montecristo AJ Fernandez leaves a stiff impression, mostly from its peppery nuances, but the Robusto quickly settles into a cooler and sweeter profile on account of its slightly thick ring gauge. Big notes of coffee bean and dark chocolate build a complex foundation, while additional notes of black pepper and nuts add depth.

Montecristo AJ Fernandez will easily fit into your collection if you’re already a fan of other AJ Fernandez cigars. If you’re a Montecristo aficionado, however, who’s accustomed to the milder taste of the original Montecristo and Montecristo Classic, you’ll want to save Montecristo AJ Fernandez for after dinner. It’s a more robust recipe and its nicotine content is noticeable. The cigar’s substantial profile makes it a more suitable choice to smoke with a good Scotch than milder Montecristo cigars.

After thirty minutes, I’ve tapped the ash off about four times, and its firm structure is a testament to the cigar’s quality. The Robusto hasn’t required any relighting, and the draw has been superb. Hints of licorice, hickory, and spice mingle with notes of chocolate and molasses after I peel off the cigar bands. A good amount of moisture accumulates at the head of the smoke, which may simply be the result of the cigar’s slightly dense construction and decadent blend. There’s a chewy character to Montecristo AJ Fernandez, but it’s enjoyable.

As I zero in on the final puffs and bring the Robusto to a close, I’m left with a positive impression. If you’re craving a beefy smoke from a reputable brand, AJ Fernandez has pulled off another worthy Montecristo to smoke. For just over $12, AJ’s fans may find it expensive, but Montecristo devotees could view it as a deal. Add a few to your next purchase and decide how it compares to the top Montecristo and AJ Fernandez cigars available today. It could be the best of both worlds.


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