We’re always on the lookout for boutique cigar companies to feature, and we found a good one in Mombacho Cigars. We first met these guys at a media party at the bizarrely named Jammyland in Las Vegas, Nevada, during the 2018 International Premium Cigars & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) trade show. They’re young, passionate, and their cigars are scrumptious. We talked with Mombacho Cigars’ president and master blender, Claudio Sgroi, about his beginnings and what’s special about his company’s cigars.
Cigars & Leisure: Tell us about the Mombacho Cigars portfolio.
Claudio Sgroi: We have a few different lines. One is called the Tierra Volcan. It’s our medium-bodied cigar with 100 percent tobacco from Nicaragua. All our Mombacho lines are Nicaraguan puros. The Tierra Volcan tastes kind of like sweet coffee beans and honey.
The Liga Maestro is a little bit spicier and comes in five sizes. This, too, is 100 percent Nicaraguan puro. Why’s that? I always say that if you want to get the true Nicaraguan experience, you need to smoke a puro.
What did you debut at the IPCPR show this year?
The Cosecha 2013—our super limited-edition, vintage cigar. Cosecha means “crop” or “harvest” in English, and 2013 because all the tobaccos that you smoke in that cigar were harvested in 2013. We made that in late 2014; it had 4 years of aging, and now it’s finally available.
What’s special about the Mombacho bands?
We are called a boutique company, but boutique is not only about the size of the company; it’s about the little things we put into it every day. One of those little boutique things we do is that every time you peel our Mombacho band off the cigar, on the back you’ll find the date that the cigar was rolled.
Anything special coming up?
[laughs] I love that question! We are doing something very special that’s going to be released toward the end of the year. It’s called the Casa Favelli, which is the name of our factory. And why so special? Because for the first time in the industry we are going to use a broadleaf wrapper grown in Nicaragua. Again, it’s a Nicaraguan puro, and we are so proud of that. We’ve been working on it for over a year now, and there are still a few more things to adjust but we wanted to take our time. It’s going to be our full-bodied line and come in four sizes. And with that unique broadleaf from Jalapa, it’s going to be beautiful.
How did you get started?
I started in the industry in May 2001. I was already living in the Dominican Republic and was a translator and interpreter. A big cigar company called me to come translate a cigar conference for them. I didn’t know anything about cigars back then, but I just fell in love. I was translating for one of the legends in the industry, Henke Kelner, talking about cigars, and the plant, and the love, and the passion, and I was like “Ohhh, I want to be like him.” And then I started.
I worked with him and Davidoff for nine years. I left the company in 2009 and was a consultant for a few years in Miami, and Mombacho was one of my clients. After my contract as a consultant with them ended, they offered me a job as a partner, and today I’m president, master blender, and partner as well.
What do you love about the industry?
Fellowship. Tobacco. And the flavor around people smoking cigars, having a nice chat, being friendly. I’ll tell you something: I never saw a fight around cigars. I’ve seen fights around alcohol and other things but never around cigars. It’s a lifestyle. It’s not just a job, it’s not just a passion. It’s a true lifestyle. When you are in love with this, you are truly in love. It’s not like wine where you’re like, “Yeah, sometimes I have a glass of wine.” No, with cigars it’s yes or no. It’s yes, I love it, or no, I don’t. That’s it. There’s nothing in the middle.
Mombacho cigars are scrumptious. We sampled a few while hanging out with the Mombacho guys in Vegas, but we wanted to dive a little deeper into their portfolio, thus our Mombacho Marathon was born. We had our managing editor, Brian, smoke two Mombacho cigars one after another so he could compare them and put into his own words why these cigars are special.
Cigar: Tierra Volcan Fino
Time to smoke: 57 minutes
Size: 6 x 44
Strength: Medium to full
I decided to begin the day with a smaller ring-gauge smoke and ease my way into this. It may come as a shock, but I don’t normally smoke a cigar every day. I like to enjoy and savor the moments I get to smoke, so I will usually smoke a stick once every few days. So, this is new for me.
First off, I want to mention that the Mombacho name comes from an inactive volcano in Nicaragua. Why mention this? Because these cigars are fiery volcanoes in the best possible way. The flavors and aroma are like spicy, jalapeno-infused chocolate. I paired this cigar with coffee and salted caramel creamer, and it proved to be a wonderful balance to the spice. The flavor finish is exceptionally strong, though not overpowering, lingering long after the retrohale.
The draw is excellent and easy, and the burn line stayed mostly consistent throughout, though heading into the final third there was some jaggedness I had to touch up, but nothing major. The ash held for a surprising amount of time for such a small ring-gauge; almost 2 inches!
There is a definite (dare I say volcanic?) kick to this cigar. I stood up after the 57 minute smoke, and my head was swimming. I enjoy this sensation, so this wasn’t a problem at all, just a fair warning to those who like their strengths more on the mild side. I will also note, I positively love how they stamp the date that the cigar was rolled onto the back of each band. Mine was August 2015. This is such a cool, personal touch and I only wish more companies did it.
Overall, the Teirra Volcan Fino was a flavor bomb of spices and chocolate, with very few touch-ups needed, and this cigar is one that I was remiss to extinguish when it got to the end.
Cigar: Liga Maestro Novillo
Time to smoke: 85 minutes
Size: 6 x 52
Strength: Medium to full
Originally, the Liga Maestro was created exclusively for the Italian market, but we have since been blessed with it here in the United States. This cigar is gorgeously constructed and has a wonderful aroma of cedar. I light it up and am taken away on a cloud of smoky bliss.
The aroma is a nice mixture of leather, cedar, and sweet, creamy coffee. I let the smoke envelope my head and wish I could live in this scent forever. It’s a little less spicy than the Tierra Volcan but still has a discernable peppery kick to it. After all, it is a Nicaraguan puro.
The draw is superb, and the burn line again stays mostly consistent, though toward the final third I was having to touch it up a bit, but it wasn’t excessive by any means. The ash stayed strong for over an inch.
The Liga Maestro was definitely sweeter and less spicy than the Tierra Volcan, which is awesome because now you have a choice when you look at Mombacho’s lineup:. Do you want spice, or do you want sweetness? It all depends on the day. Side note: This cigar was rolled on July 2016. Damn, I love that touch.