Today we’re smoking the brand new Matilde, the highly anticipated release from cigar legend Jose Seijas. For those who don’t know, Jose has over forty years of experience in the cigar industry, and held the title of Vice President and General Manager with Altadis U.S.A. Inc for a number of years until his retirement from the company in 2012.
A short time after his retirement from Altadis USA, Jose partnered up with Charlie and Ruben Gonzalez, two brothers known for being big players in the sale of cigars in the Dominican Republic. Soon thereafter the trio launched New World Cigars, alongside an accompanying factory in La Romana. The factory initially took on several small projects, including assisting Litto Gomez in the production of select La Flor Dominicana cigars. Eventually, Jose felt everything was up and running proficiently, and set down the path of creating the cigar line now known as Matilde.
The name, Matilde, actually traces its roots much farther back in the Dominican tobacco tradition. Operating out of their own factory, Tabacalera La Matilde, the company was an influential and prominent facet in the Dominican cigar scene in Santiago. Founded by Simeon Mencia in 1876, the company only lasted a little over thirty years; brought to an unfortunate end by the death of Simeon Mencia. “The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long” – Lao Tzu
While the longevity of the original company proved to be short, the impact and significance the company made in Santiago can still be seen today. Both the original factory and the home of Simeon Mencia still stand, and are widely regarded as historical landmarks in Santiago.
Size: 5×54 Robusto
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Dominican, small amounts of Nicaraguan
Appearance and Pre-light Aroma:
This has to be one of the most beautiful cigars I have ever seen. Milk chocolate in color, the Matilde is smooth and oily, and has very little in the way of veins or tooth. There is just some sort of intangible elegance to this cigar; pictures simply don’t do it justice.
Bold, rich notes of fine cocoa powder are very dominant through the nose, with a touch of oriental spice being picked up the deeper you inhale. Aside from some lighter earth and barnyard notes, the Matilde mainly smells of just plain ol’ good tobacco. Dried fruit, particularly apricot is picked up in the dry draw.
Where to begin? There is quite a lot going on with the Matilde. First off, the draw and smoke production on the cigar is unreal. One smooth pull will deliver a mouth-watering amount of smoke to the palate. The draw is ever-so slightly on the loose side of the spectrum, but nothing too extreme. The texture definitely has a tangible bit of substance to it, and really saturates itself into the palate. Flavor-wise, you get a very interesting animal in the Matilde. Lots of dry wood, particularly a sharp cedar note, and a blast of deceivingly strong pepper notes. On the palate, the pepper is mainly a mix of black and white pepper, but through the nose it takes on a much more tangy red pepper tone. The profile is surprisingly light all around, but there does some to be a decent dose of nicotine being quietly delivered to the body.
A bit creamier into the second third, but not in the conventional sense. There is distinctly musky/gamey flavor that seems to be attached to a muted floral note. It’s an odd characteristic, but not necessarily one that is an annoyance. The profile continues to gain more depth all around, and thus does require a bit of an analytical approach to really get a grasp on the Matilde. As in the first third, there is quite a bit of pepper going on, particularly through the nose. There are some light earthy notes, as well as charred wood at the base of the profile. A vibrant lemon zest begins to appear as we reach the midway point of the Matilde.
The final third of the Matilde is a lot like its earlier thirds, but with decline in the higher more vibrant notes, and most of the pepper diminishing. There is still a bit of floral lemon that pokes through, but by in large the Matilde has backed off into a much, much less flamboyant experience.
Burn and Construction:
So here is my only real complaint. Every single one of the Matilde’s I have smoked (10+) has burned unevenly. No matter how much toasting or adjusting of my smoking pace and technique I just could not remedy this problem. I poked around the net a bit, and haven’t really seen this brought up by anyone else, so make of it what you will.
Everything thing else about its burn and construction is superb, and I truly mean it. The roll is beautiful from top to bottom, and the cigar feels tidy all around. The draw is fantastic, and produces plenty of smoke. For whatever reason though, the Matilde’s I have smoked all had to undergo serious burn correction to get through.
I’ll be honest, the Matilde took quite a while to grow on me. I had heard praise of the blend from countless people, and was supremely underwhelmed when I first smoked pre-release samples. Not only did it not live up to the hype, I flat-out did not enjoy the profile. At all.
Fast forward a few months and Ruben Gonzalez popped up in Cigar King for a visit. I smoked several samples from him, and while it was definitely a step up from previous Matilde’s I had smoked, it still didn’t blow me away. Nevertheless, I continued to hear praise for this cigar.
When it came time to do this review, I decided I was going to smoke as many of these as it took to really grasp the blend. While I don’t have an exact count, I have smoked over 10 in the past few months from samples all the way to the retail product. From what I expect to be a combination of the cigar evolving and a better understanding of the cigar on my part, I have come to like the Matilde quite a lot. It’s different, quite different. A gripe of mine with the pre-release cigars was that I felt they lacked ‘midrange’ and were a bit weak in flavor, but the last several I have smoked for this review have been plenty flavorful. It’s a well-rounded cigar, with great notes upfront, and an excellent balance of undertones up and down the flavor spectrum.
Now that I have grown an affection for the Matilde, I would definitely recommend trying these out. It’s a cigar distinctly its own, and that alone is reason enough to pique the interest of myself and many others. I imagine most will need to smoke a few to make up their minds on it.
Due to the nature of my experience with this cigar, I’ve opted to avoid rating it just yet. I plan to do a redux review later in the year. I will say that it’s definitely right around a 4 out of 5 on my palate, but I don’t feel confident enough on it as of yet to slap down a hard number.
If you’d like to try the Matilde Renancer, you can order them here.
– Joseph Carroll