El Mejor Espresso Toro
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Yes, I did it too. In the haze of a C-Bid bender I couldn’t resist the allure of a gorgeous dollar maduro. Sure enough, when the DHL lady dropped them off, the El Mejor Espresso was every bit as stunning as it appeared in the photos — crisply trunk pressed, black and thinly veined.
So I smoked one. And another. I went through about five of them over a couple days before I faced reality — this dollar marvel was utterly flavorless. Some on Top25Cigar.com were raving about them, but I just didn’t see it. I stuck them in the Crap-O-Dor and largely forgot about them until now, 16 months later.
The El Mejor Espresso is made by Nestor Plasencia in Esteli, Nicaragua. As best I can tell, the brand is exclusive to Cigars International, and has become a calling card of their aforementioned auction site. It is a blend of Nicaraguan and Honduran filler in a Mexican San Andreas wrapper. Top25Cigar lists the binder as Cameroon, but I was unable to confirm that. It is produced in four sizes — Robusto, Torpedo, Toro and Churchill.
With a Mexican wrapper and Honduran filler, you’d expect the El Mejor Espresso to be robust and earthy. It isn’t. In fact, it’s a pussycat. Almost immediately, I detect raisin and light cocoa. More precisely, the raisin flavor is more like that of a cooked Ancho chile — slightly sweet and smoky with just a hint of heat.
At risk of wandering too far afield, Chef Tim Love of Iron Chef America fame makes an Ancho Chile Chocolate Cake, and the El Mejor Espresso instantly reminded me of it. The flavors of the El Mejor aren’t nearly as rich and dense, of course, but there is a similarity. (Yes, I’m perfectly serious. And you should try that recipe, BTW.)
The El Mejor is well built. The burn was cool and slow, requiring only one touch-up. For the most part, the draw is fine.
Unfortunately, the flavor doesn’t evolve much. It’s pleasant and mild, but static. I picked up none of the coffee notes suggested by the name or the colorful review on the Cigars International site. The finish is short and thin. The only off-note is a slight chemical taste when you hit it too aggressively. That’s easily avoided, however.
Finally, the color of the wrapper led me to suspect it was died. I’m happy to report, however, that these have never turned my lips or fingers black.
CONCLUSION: I’m glad I didn’t compost the El Mejor Espresso, as some good (if one-dimensional) flavors came out with age. If you like a mild maduro with an unusual profile, these aren’t a bad idea at $1.00-$2.00 a pop. Give them a year and you’ll have a respectable yard gar or something that pairs well with morning joe.