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                       Collaboration has been the hottest buzz word in the cigar industry for the last couple of years and no company seems more involved in the trend than Altadis U.S.A.

Over the last few years, Altadis U.S.A. has collaborated with Pete Johnson of Tatuaje, the Plasencia family and Aging Room, which now has a distribution deal with the company. Over the last year, the company added a fourth member to the fold with a variety of collaboration with Abdel Fernández of A.J. Fernández.

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There have been four collaborations announced so far, more are in the works, though not all of them have been through Altadis U.S.A. specifically. Some of them have been designed for sale through Altadis U.S.A.’s sister company, Santa Clara and its associated retail operation JR Cigars. While most of the A.J. Fernández-produced products have been for  the company’s most popular trademarks—H. Upmann, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta—one is for a brand of cigars few people know about: Gispert.

Pronounced hees-pairt, Gispert is an old Cuban brand. Unlike the brands above, it’s no longer in products by Habanos S.A.—discontinued in the mid-2000s—and was neither a particularly strong cigar, nor a particular strong seller for the Cuban cigar monopoly prior to its discontinuation.

Altadis U.S.A. began its own Gispert line shortly before Cuba discontinued it, though it also is not one of the company’s featured brands.

As the name implies, Gispert Intenso is made to be a a stronger version of Altadis U.S.A.’s original Gispert blend, which is made in Honduras.

For Intenso, Altadis’ Grupo de Maestros, a team of production supervisors, and Fernández selected a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper covering a Nicaraguan criollo 98 binder and a combination of fillers including Nicaragua criollo 98 and piloto cubano from the Dominican Republic.

The three vitolas in the Gispert Intenso line are packaged in boxes of 20.

  • Gispert Intenso Corona (5 x 44) — $6 (Boxes of 20, $120)
  • Gispert Intenso Toro (6 x 50) — $6.50 (Boxes of 20, $130)
  • Gispert Intenso Belicoso (6 1/8 x 52) — $6.95 (Boxes of 20, $139)

  • Cigar Reviewed: Gispert Intenso Corona
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo 98
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 44
  • Vitola: Corona
  • MSRP: $6 (Boxes of 20, $120)
  • Release Date: March 2017
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Visually, the Gispert Intenso Corona is a gorgeous specimen with a dark espresso bean brown wrapper that is nice and smooth to the touch along with some slight evidence of oil. The box-press is very obvious, but not extreme by any means, and the cigar is firm when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of surprisingly subtle earth, leather, manure, dark chocolate and coffee grounds, while the cold draw brings flavors of rich milk chocolate, sweet oak, espresso beans, leather and slight vanilla.

Starting out, the Gispert Intenso Corona has a dominant combination of both earth and oak, interspersed with other notes of toast, leather, peanuts, cocoa nibs, cinnamon and slight tart citrus. There is a nice amount of black pepper on the retrohale along with a metallic note on the finish, and while there is some indeterminate sweetness present, it is not enough to impact the profile in a major way as of yet. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent after a straight cut and the burn is giving me very few problems so far although the ash does not stay on for more than half an inch before falling for the first time. The smoke production is about average, while the strength ramps up quickly, hitting a point close to medium by the time the first third ends.

The sweetness increases enough for me to peg it as a nutmeg note during the second third of the Gispert Intenso Corona, although the dominant flavors remain a combination of oak and gritty earth. In fact, the profile becomes noticeably more distinct overall, as well as more smooth on the palate, but there is also a slightly increased amount of the metallic note on the finish from the first third. Additional notes include bitter chocolate, leather, dark fruit, fresh roasted coffee beans, cinnamon and creamy nuts, and there is a bit more black pepper on the retrohale. The draw remains quite good with a great amount of resistance, and although the burn is far from perfect, it is not bad enough to actually have to touch up at this point. Strength-wise, the Gispert Intenso Corona easily reaches a solid medium by the halfway point of the cigar, but stalls out there, seemingly content to remain where it is for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, the nutmeg sweetness in the profile of the Gispert Intenso Corona wanes a bit in the final third, although it is still stronger than what was seen in the first third. The earth and oak combination easily remains on top, followed by more flavors of creamy nuts, more leather, more cinnamon and more coffee beans, along with a somewhat reduced metallic note on the finish. The draw is as good as ever, but the burn takes a small turn for the worse, and I have to touch it up a few times to keep it from getting out of hand. As expected, the overall strength easily passes the medium mark it hit at the halfway point and stops about halfway to full by the time I put the cigar down with a little more than an inch to go.

Final Notes:

  • I love the copper foil contrasted against the dark brown wrapper, it really is a great look.
  • This cigar gets very bitter very quickly if you puff too fast, so keep it slow. Thankfully, if you slow back down, the bitterness goes away fairly quickly.
  • Although the ash is not overly flaky, it also did not seem to want to stay put, and fell off the foot about every half inch or so with no provocation at all.
  • Altadis U.S.A., JR Cigar and A.J. Fernandez all advertise on halfwheel.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • While the corona is a fairly small vitola, the average smoking time for all three samples was an almost shocking one hour and 22 minutes.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Gispert Intenso cigars, site sponsors Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136), JR Cigar and Payless Cigars have them in stock now.
79 Overall Score

While it takes a while to get there, the second and final thirds of the Gispert Intenso Corona are easily the best parts of the cigar. There are more flavors, slightly more complexity and the overall experience is significantly more enjoyable. In addition, with a few exceptions, the construction was quite good and the strength was nicely integrated. However, even with that said, the blend never rose much above the average mark, with an ever-present metallic note on the finish that was pervasive enough at times to effect the profile in a negative way. I am very interested to try the other collaborations between Altadis and Fernández, but the Gispert Intenso is not one I will be seeking out again, at least in the Corona vitola.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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