Manufacturer: Alec Bradley
Wrapper: Criollo 98 – (Trojes Viso)
Binder: Criollo 98 – (Trojes Seco)
Filler: Honduran (Trojes) and Nicaraguan (Jalapa)
Up for review this week is a cigar that, until recently, I had never heard about. I was first introduced to this brand around Janaury of 2009 after a conversation on Facebook with the Malfetano brand owner. Shortly after our conversation, I received three samples, one of each vitola offered.
Unlike many manufacturers, the information I received on the cigar was in-depth and freely given upon request. Not only did I learn that the wrapper and binder consisted of Criollo 98, but I also leaned that the tobacco was grown in the Trojes region of Honduras and that the primings were Viso and Seco. The filler is made up of both Nicaraguan and Honduran tobacco, grown in Jalapa and Trojes.
The Malfetano line is made by Alec Bradley in the Raices Cubanas factory in Danli Honduras. Nearly forty test blends were smoked before a finalized blend was established. Much like the blend, the presentation of this cigar was given a great deal of attention and required nearly thirty proofs before one was selected.
“Malfetano” is my great grandmothers last name. She came from Italy and the picture on the band is the town she came from. The color blue in the band is my wife and I favorite color. The process to make the cigars was long but fun, it took almost a year.
Before the lighting process was to begin, I began my very typical pre-light inspection. The inspection itself changes very little from cigar to cigar and is performed simply to find any glaring issues that may deem the cigar problematic before things get started.
The first thing that I looked for on my Malfetano were any obvious cracks or splits along the wrapper leaf. During my quick inspection I thought that the wrapper looked fantastic. I found no cracks or splits but was happy to discover a uniform color and sheen. There was only one prominent vein but this did not protrude much and did not seem as though it would cause any issues along the way.
Once the visual inspection was complete, I began gently pinching the cigar, from head to foot. What I found was a cigar that was firmly packed with two soft sections toward the center of the cigar. While there may be some flaking when the burn line reaches this portion of the cigar, the soft spots did not seem bad enough to cause any concern.
Before lighting my cigar, I reached for my Palio cutter to make quick work of the head. The cold draw produced a floral flavor that I found appealing. There was a bit of resistance on the pre-light draw, but not enough to concern me.
After getting my Malfetano Cigar properly lit, I became a little concerned with the draw. I can only assume that the heat from the lighting process caused the tobacco at the foot to swell slightly and block off the pleating in the filler which allows the stick to draw. After a couple of puffs I was worried that the draw would remain tight and I would struggle to smoke the cigar. Fortunately, after a few puffs the tobacco seemed to settle and the draw opened right back up again.
With each puff I was presented with a dense mouth-full of smoke which was easy to pass through the sinus. As the smoke passed over my palate, I found the body to be about medium with a nice sharp spiciness through the sinus. The finish was smooth and did not linger before dissipating.
The flavor profile was very interesting and presented two distinct profiles. Up front, I was picking up a pleasant floral sweetness. As this flavor dissipated, I picked up a heavily woody flavor on the back-end. This flavor made me wonder what tree-bark might taste like, as that was the visual that I got as a result of the taste. This flavor also dissipated quickly and left the palate clean for the next puff.
After nearly fifty-minutes I was most of the way through the second third of my Malfentano Corona. Through the second third I found myself really focused on the flavor profile and appreciating it more and more with every puff. The independent flavor profiles were still distinguishable but were growing closer together. Think of it as the time delay between the two flavors was becoming shorter. This made it seem as if the two flavors were slowing becoming one.
The burn line was a little wavy and slightly problematic. The wrapper seemed to be burning at a different rate than the filler which required the occasion touch-up with my torch. While I didn’t mind this so much, I can certainly see this being an issue for some cigar enthusiasts. The draw remained free with a slight bit of resistance, producing plenty of dense smoke.
The ash was tightly compacted and flaked very little. While the ash itself was firm, it lacked shear strength and fell unexpectedly from the foot of my cigar, on more than one occasion. After falling, the ash remained a solid lump of ash waiting to be picked up in one piece and discarded.
After about an hour and ten-minutes, I was well into the final third of my Malfetano Corona. The small size at this stage made for a mildly warm smoke across the palate and slight heat on the fingers. Aside from this minor issue, the cigar was performing well in the burn department. The burn line had a slight wave to it and produced a nice light colored ash.
The flavor profile that I highly anticipated as something very interesting was highly disappointing, unfortunately. The floral sweetness that was present in the earlier thirds disappeared completely and the dense woody flavor became bitter and too over-the-top. The result was a mismatched pairing of Rum and Cigar which was fantastic prior to this last change.
The body remained medium throughout the entire cigar while the finish remained smooth and easy on the palate. In the later stages of the cigar, the finish lingered a bit longer before dissipating, but was not unpleasant.
When it was time to set down my Malfetano Corona for its eternal rest in the ashtray, I was slightly disappointed. Before I reached the band, the flavors this cigar produced were excellent. The two profiles seemed to play off of one another and made for a dynamic smoke. After the band the flavors muddled together and resulted in a overly dense woody flavor that came off as bitter and far less enjoyable.
If you are the type of smoker that only smokes a stick down to the band, then ditches it, I think you will be in for a real treat. I found this section of the cigar to pair exceptionally well with Zaya Rum and would highly recommend the pairing.
Because the Malfetano brand is not manufacturer direct and belongs to a brand owner, the price is a bit higher than I prefer to pay for a cigar of this size. While this would not be a regular purchase for me, I would most definitely reach for one every now and again, especially if it were to be paired with Zaya.