With a few exceptions, there have been cigars made for most federal holidays. Fun fact: while I don’t know of a Martin Luther King, Jr.-themed cigar, he actually picked tobacco in the fields in Connecticut when he was younger. There are also a host of non-federal holidays that have been used as inspirations for cigars, including Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day and the Chinese New Year.
Given the uptick in cigar companies trying to market to and interact with their female customers, I can’t say that I was surprised when I saw that Micallef Cigars was making a cigar for International’s Women’s Day, which takes place on March 8. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that the company didn’t opt for some stereotypical low-hanging fruit.
It’s not in a pink box, it’s not a Connecticut-wrapped cigar, it’s not a lancero, it’s not flavored. In fact, the cigar is an extension to an existing line, the Micallef Migdalia. And outside of the inside of the secondary band, you’d have no idea that this was being created especially to honor women.
More specifically, it’s made to honor one woman in particular, Migdalia Sanchez, the matriarch of the Gomez-Sanchez family. The Gomez-Sanchez family owned the factory in Nicaragua which makes Micallef’s cigars, which Micallef bought, though the family still runs the facility. Sanchez was born in Cuba and worked in the cigar industry for at least 25 years, earning the Distinción Carlos Baliño, which recognizes 25 years of work in the Cuban tobacco industry. She left Cuba in 1998 to join her family in Nicaragua.
As for the cigar, it’s the Micallef Migdalia S.E., the fourth vitola for the Migdalia line. It is a 5 x 40 corona that uses the same blend as the rest of the Migdalia line: a Mexican San Andrés wrapper over a Sumatran binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
The MSRP is set at $12 per cigar and it is offered in boxes of 12.
- Cigar Reviewed: Micallef Migdalia S.E.
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Micallef Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
- Binder: Indonesia (Sumatra)
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 40
- Vitola: Corona
- MSRP: $12 (Box of 12, $144)
- Release Date: April 15, 2021
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The Micallef Migdalia S.E. has what I consider to be the modern cigar look. It’s a bit darker than the classic cigar color, but it’s by no means a maduro—err, oscuro—nor Connecticut shade. The fit and finish of the packaging are very well done and I’m a big fan of the design of the bands. These three samples are some of the weirdest-smelling cigars I’ve smoked. The wrapper smells like peppermint, eucalyptus and some barnyard. It’s to the point that I wouldn’t be surprised if the cause was due to some sort of soap or lotion for the people who previously handled the cigar, which comes in cellophane. But then I smell the foot and it’s got a bit of the uniqueness. It’s sweeter and a bit closer to the norm thanks to a hearty mixture of coca and earthiness, but I can still pick up some of the eucalyptus along with floral flavors and vanilla. While the individual aromas are nice, the overall mixture is a bit confusing. I have no idea what to expect from the cold draw, and find that there is lots of cocoa over coconut and some of the eucalyptus flavors. It’s a very odd mixture—particularly considering there are not that many flavors numbers-wise.
Despite all of the oddities in smelling the cigar, once lit the Micallef Migdalia S.E. presents flavors that are pretty common for a cigar. That’s not to say that the start is pedestrian, but neither eucalyptus nor coconut are involved. Instead, there’s a wide range of sensations including earthiness, potato chips, leather, something that reminds me of limestone, touches of chocolate and faint hints of vanilla. Unfortunately, two problems emerge pretty quickly. First, all three cigars struggle to stay lit if I puff at a normal rate, meaning I’m smoking quicker and on heightened alert to keep the cigar from going out. Second, the profile is getting increasingly saltier. Flavor-wise, there’s earthiness over a deep nuttiness, leather, roughness and the aforementioned saltiness. It finishes with lots of earthiness—one cigar has a bit of a damp earth flavor—woods, saltiness and a touch of black pepper. Retrohales are a lot better thanks to a mixture of citrus, leather, earthiness and creaminess. Unfortunately, two of the cigars are a bit sour. When retrohaling, it leads to a finish of leather, minerals, earthiness and sourness. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-full. Outside of the need to puff quicker, construction is fine.
For a number of reasons, I’d really like the Micallef Migdalia S.E. to make some significant changes in the second third. And while there are some major changes to the flavor profile, my one wish—getting rid of the saltiness—doesn’t happen. The profile evolves to a mixture of nuttiness, oats and vanilla. I’m not sure it’s any saltier than before or just how much saltiness there now is, but as the finish begins my palate detects a very familiar salty earthiness from before. I should be clear, it’s not an excessive amount of salt I’m not out of a salt shaker for example. Rather, it’s a saltiness that overwhelms the balance akin to a Gose-style beer gone wrong. Retrohaling reveals a pleasant creaminess over leather and some saltiness, but on two cigars it comes off a bit sour. The finish has nuttiness, saltiness, leather, a bit of creaminess and some cardamon. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-full, though definitely getting closer to full. Touch-ups are needed to help keep the cigar burning, though when the cigar is completely lit there’s plenty of smoke.
Welcome to the broken record, I mean the final third. There are some changes, but they aren’t ones that resolve my issues with the cigar. In fact, it seems quite clear that the saltiness has picked up. There’s also more nuttiness, but it’s hard for me to really decipher it from the saltiness, earthiness and oats. The finish is a bit less salty than the second third, which is good, and there’s also a bit of black pepper. Outside of that, it’s tough to figure out the changes from the second third. When trying to figure out the differences of the retrohale compared to the second third, things are a lot easier. There’s an added bread flavor—one that overcomes the saltiness—on the main retrohale, though the finish has much more black pepper, less saltiness. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is full. And to be clear, on two cigars, the strength is very strong, strong enough to the point where I find myself reaching for a big glass of water, though not fully in need of a sugary drink.
- This review was written on May 12, 2021. I’m not entirely sure when it will be published.
- I was pretty surprised to learn this was a Mexican San Andrés wrapper. While it’s not challenging to believe, it certainly wouldn’t have been my first guess based on appearance and performance. I would have guessed Ecuadorian habano based on the texture, but I’m not an expert when it comes to sorting tobacco. In fact, I have no idea what I’m doing.
- Speaking of performance, this cigar was too salty. Much like with food, I think that having some salty flavors in cigars can work really well, but there are limits, both in intensity and with the amount of time the raw salt flavor is present. This had issues with the former, but more so with the latter. There were about a dozen or so puffs without the saltiness, but once it started it never went away.
- Construction also could have been better. I’m not going to claim to be a regular Micallef smoker, but I seem to have an above-average number of construction issues from the factory, specifically burn-related issues. On the other hand, I can’t recall having a Micallef with a bad draw—in fact, the draw was about as good as it gets for each cigar here—but the combustion was an issue.
- While we didn’t photograph them, I really like the look of the Migdalia S.E. boxes. They appear to be a great use of relatively clean lines and good color pairings.
- There’s this message printed on the inside of the secondary band.
- Creating a cigar to celebrate a holiday and then not having it for sale on said holiday is counterintuitive. This cigar arrived a month plus a week after the holiday, which would be the equivalent of a Christmas-themed cigar showing up around Feb. 1. While the members of the cigar media who wrote about the Migdalia S.E. might remember the connection, I can’t imagine any consumers are aware of it given the time that elapsed. Furthermore, if a consumer wanted to buy the cigar, specifically for the March 8th holiday, it wasn’t on shelves.
- While I understand there are a lot of challenges to getting cigars to market, some that have been increased of late, this cigar wasn’t announced until around the holiday. That meant Micallef knew the cigar wasn’t going to be on shelves by then. I don’t know what the better thing to do is: what Micallef did, delay the cigar for a whole year, or drop the International Women’s Day connection—but this seems like a miss.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 35 minutes on average.
For better and worse, if you walked into a cigar shop and told people there was a cigar that was created for International Women’s Day, there would be some assumptions. Those assumptions, based on false stereotypes, would be that the cigar would probably be small and mild. While the cigar might be small, it certainly isn’t mild. Unfortunately, I wonder if it might be too strong for its own good. For whatever reason, each sample I smoked required far more attention—mainly smoking quicker than I’d like—to keep the Migdalia S.E. lit. If that was the only issue, so be it. But the flavor profile was too salty and monotonous for my tastes. Micallef has certainly come a long way since the first time I had its cigars six or so years ago, but this is another cigar from the portfolio that didn’t hit the spot for me.