Origin : Brazil
Format : Corona
Size : 141 x 17 mm
Ring : 42
Wrapper : Brazil
Filler : Brazil
Binder : Brazil
Price : ~$5 each
Alexandre lives in Rio de Janeiro and offered his help on reviewing Brazilian cigars. I think it's a great opportunity to discover another interesting cigar-producing country. Enjoy the reviews!
Alonso Menendez is one of the premium brands made by Menendez Amerino in the state of Bahia, northeast of Brazil. The company is the result of the collaboration between Cuban cigar maker Felix Menendez (who had been involved in the making of famous Cuban brands Montecristo and H. Upmann in the pre-Castro era) and Brazilian tobacco grower Mario Amerino. It is made with leaves grown in the famous region called Mata Fina. They come in many sizes and are also available in Connecticut, clear shade wrapper, but this was a dark, maduro wrapper specimen. I must declare in advance that I am a long time fan of this stick, and therefore, this is bound to be a slightly biased review... :)
It comes wrapped in a dark, rough and veiny leaf. The sides are not perfectly parallel and it might give you a (wrong) first impression of a lousily constructed cigar. The band is all-white with a nice logo printed in golden type, adding to its pleasant “less-is-more”, basic visual impression.
Alonso Menendez, like most Brazilian cigars, tends to be softer, looser in construction than the regular Cuban stick. It yields very easily when squeezed lightly between your fingers. When lit, it produces a very rich and copious amount of smoke, making it a very easy-to-taste cigar. The ash is light-grey and, in the Corona, tends to break quite easily and be a little flaky and messy (as opposed to larger sizes like the Robusto). Nothing serious, though.
It is a maduro stick. Like any good maduro, it tastes very sweet in the beginning. I’ve read some reviews of the Alonso Menendez, and most people find in it flavors of coconut and chocolate, which are all there in my opinion. But it is a lot more complex than that. Especially after the first half has burned, there is a very clear taste of lime or orange (yes, lime or orange!). This seems to be a regular characteristic of the Mata Fina leaves, also present in other brands made in Brazil. The last third has to be drawn with care not to overheat it, otherwise it gets too hot and there might be some bitterness to it.
A very valuable cigar. Excellent for a quick smoke after dinner. I like to harmonize it with a longneck bottle of Dunkel beer and/or a cup of black, strong coffee from my Bialetti stovetop espresso maker.
Overall Rating :
A very good alternative stick, with a personality of its own. These flavors are completely different from anything you might find in a Cuban cigar. It is not by chance that so many non-Cuban top brands have brazilian leaves in their blends.
PS I live in Brazil and it is very easy for me to buy “Alonsos” anywhere. The Corona will cost me something in the range of 13 to 16 Brazilian reals ($5-6), which is a very reasonable value for such a good smoke. I am pretty sure it can be found in good online stores if you Google it. More information can be found online at the manufacturer’s website at http://www.menendezamerino.com.br.