I remember buying a bundle of Morro Castle cigars about a decade ago before the brand was swept out with the tide. I don’t remember who made them, but they were relatively decent yard ‘gars. A good everyday smoke is a necessary commodity in today’s economy, and that’s how I remember the old Morro. It was not a subtle or enlightening experience, but it was a good everyday stogie. And though this Morro Castle is an entirely new incarnation, my sentiment remains the same.
Made by A.J. Fernandez for Cigars International, this Morro Castle has an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper that surrounds a blend of Honduran tobacco from Jamastran and Nicaraguan leaf from Esteli and Ometepe. (Ometepe is the volcanic island that sits in the middle of Lake Nicaragua.)
The cigar is offered in five sizes:
Robusto – 4.7 x 52
Toro – 6 x 52
Churchill – 7 x 50
Belicoso – 5 x 52
Torpedo – 6.5 x 52
One look at the robustos pictured above and you can see there might be some consistency issues here. I bought two sticks for this review, and if they didn’t have bands I would have sworn they were different cigars. Somebody in Quality Control must have been seriously distracted when the one on the left rolled off the assembly line and into the box. It’s pale and weathered and looks as though it went through the wash.
On the other hand, the golden brown wrapper on the other cigar is far more approachable. Attractive even. The wrap and roll was otherwise pretty solid on both samples. Both burned well and were trouble-free.
Obviously there was something wrong with the wrapper on the first cigar. Aside from its anemic appearance it made the cigar taste like tar and black pepper. It started rough and didn’t get much better. When the flavor didn’t improve after twenty minutes I tossed it. As the Stranger says, some days the bar eats you.
The second sample was much better. While still fairly aggressive (in a friendly Nicaraguan way) it calmed down after an inch or two and allowed the woody and slightly creamy aspect of the wrapper have its say. The spice continues through the rest of the smoke, but it mellows considerably and turns out to be an outspoken but still medium-bodied cigar.
I didn’t hold out great hopes for Morro Castle, and I wasn’t hugely surprised by an average showing. Assuming that the washed out robusto was truly a mistake that won’t often be repeated, I got about what I expected. But for 3 to 4 bucks a pop this could be a nice pickup for someone who likes A.J. Fernandez-style Nicaraguans. It’s a tasty medium-bodied smoke that starts out with a dramatic burst of pepper and then mellows into an above average yard ‘gar. It’s not really for me, but there’s definitely a market out there for this style of cigar in this price range.
Final Score: 83