Cigar Buying Guides

CA Report: The Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to Montecristo Cigars

Cigar Advisor’s Essential Montecristo Cigars Tasting & Buying Guide

Updated November 2022

Montecristo cigars…Just mentioning the name conjures images of luxury and refinement; after all, the marque helped to define “Dominican flavor.” Now in the hands of the Grupo de Maestro blending team, this blue-chip brand of the cigar world continues to expand its portfolio with new and interesting tastes.

The Montecristo brand was first launched in Cuba in 1935. At the time, it was common for cigar factories to have a “lector” at the front of the room – this was a person reading newspapers or books aloud to the torcedors on the factory floor, helping to provide news and entertainment as the rollers worked. The cigar took its name from the Dumas classic The Count of Monte Cristo, a popular choice of lectors to read to the workers as they rolled.

Production of Montecristo cigars in Havana continues; the Dominican counterpart came to market in the mid-70’s, serving cigar lovers in the United States. Today, there are over a dozen non-Cuban Montecristos in regular production – the Cigar Advisors have reviewed each of them, and provided their tasting notes to help you recognize the differences among the blends…starting with the most recent Monte releases (along with their associated line extensions), and working backwards to the original. Of course, taste is subjective; add your experiences with any of these Montecristo cigars in the comments below!

Montecristo Espada Oscuro

By Paul Lukens

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 6 x 50 Toro
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Rosado Oscuro
Binder/Filler: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: The wrapper is dark and even in color and reveals an attractive reddish hue when held to the light.
Draw: Ideal.
Pre-light flavor: Leather, cedar, cocoa.
Toasting & Light:
Base flavors: Sweet tobacco, earth, cedar.
Retrohale: Pepper.
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn / Ash Quality: Burns evenly and holds a firm grey ash that ranges from light to dark.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.

Summary: The Espada Oscuro is a follow-up to the Montecristo Espada—and is a Nicaraguan puro, like its predecessor. Crafted by true cigar masters—the Plasencia family, the Grupo de Maestros, and Rafael Nodal—the Montecristo Espada Oscuro holds a lot of promise before putting flame to foot.

I was welcomed with notes of dark chocolate, cedar, and leather on lighting. And those flavors led the way until notes of cinnamon, earth, and a bit of tangy citrus join the chorus. As the Espada Oscuro progressed, I was impressed with the sweet and spicy balance as well as the overall depth and richness of the flavor profile.

While truly enjoyable, the Montecristo Espada Oscuro may not be for everyone. While approachable, It remains a full-bodied, full-flavored cigar that could overwhelm new cigar enthusiasts. That being said, I’d rate the Espada Oscuro as an excellent cigar now, with an ability to become truly extraordinary with some time spent in a properly maintained humidor.

Montecristo Espada Signature

By Paul Lukens

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: (6”x 55) Valiente (Double Toro)
Strength: Medium to Full
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: Wrapper was milk chocolate in color, silky and oily to the touch.
Draw: Open with just a touch of resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Black pepper, leather, and cedar.
Toasting & Light:
Base flavors: Black pepper, earth, creaminess, leather, nuts.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Sweet and grassy.
Burn / Ash Quality: Flawless.
Balance of flavors: Great.

Montecristo Espada Signature completes a trifecta of sorts. This Nicaraguan puro is the third cigar in the Espada line, and like the Espada Oscuro coming before it, was made by Rafael Nodal, the Grupo de Maestros, and the Plasencia family.

The Espada Signature begins with a blast of black pepper with some baking spices, and a dairy-like creaminess. After an inch or so, the spiciness and black pepper relax and are offset with notes of cedar, tangy citrus, and earth.

At around the halfway point and the black pepper recedes into the background and an overall creamy vibe takes hold—mellowing the overall profile. I’m picking up some leather, peanut butter, and strong black coffee as the cigar winds down.

I’d whole heartedly recommend the Montecristo Espada Signature if you’re considering a fuller-bodied and flavor-rich premium—the kind that’ll have you wanting another one immediately.

Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua

By Paul Lukens

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: No 2. 6 ⅛ x 52
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder & Filler: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: Soft box-press, and perfectly applied triple cap. The wrapper has an oily appearance. No soft spots or veins were present.
Draw: Just the right pull.
Pre-light flavor: Cocoa and coffee.
Toasting & Light: No problems, contained earthy and peppery notes.
Base flavors: Earth, nuts, sweet spices, pepper, charred oak, black coffee.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn / Ash Quality: Just about perfect.
Balance of flavors: Ideal.

Summary: Created to offer modern day cigar fanatics an experience that mirrored some of the characteristics found in the original Montecristo (circa 1935), the 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua is the result of a collaboration between some of the best cigar minds around—AJ Fernandez, Rafael Nodal, and the Grupo de Maestros. While the exact blend is as guarded as a certain Colonel’s mix of herbs and spices, I’m confident in telling you that only the highest quality, aged tobaccos were used.

The first several puffs delivered whispers of earthy smoke with pronounced notes of black pepper. A few inches in, the cigar calms to an even, medium–bodied mix of earthiness, nuts, pepper, and sweet spice. As I’m enjoying this luxury blend, the words that spring to mind are refined power and elegance.

Near the midway point, the pepper is a faint memory, except for a smidge lingering on the finish. I’m picking up some additional sweetness and spice, with some charred oak chiming in. As I’m reaching the sad farewell to the 1935, the blend is full-bodied—but not in an aggressive or overwhelming manner.

Rated by some flashy magazines as the #2 cigar of 2021, I think they absolutely nailed it. The 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua No. 2 is a decidedly well done and humidor-worthy cigar, with the oh-so-sweet bonus that it will only improve even more with a little added rest.

Montecristo Epic Vintage 12

By Paul Lukens

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 6” x 52
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder & Filler: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: The wrapper has a dark chocolate color which is even throughout. There are no soft spots, and the cap is well done.
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light flavor: Wood, leather, spice.
Toasting & Light: Pepper, sweetness.
Base flavors: Oak, leather, dark chocolate, baking spices, earthiness.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Leather.
Burn / Ash Quality: Ideal with a dense, grey ash.
Balance of flavors: Spot-on.

Summary: Blended by the hands of the legendary Grupo de Maestros, the Montecristo Epic Vintage 12 is the sequel to the Montecristo Epic. The tobaccos in the blend come from an exceptional harvest—reportedly under a blue moon.

The introductory few puffs delivered a mix of pepper, nuts, and dark chocolate. Soon following are a bit of earthiness, and a tangy spice flavor. So far, the blend is velvety smooth and creamy on the palate.

Midway, and present through to the nub, an oaky note and hints of earthiness join with a layer of baking spice and some leather to complete the profile.

Overall, the Epic 12 supplied a creamy, full-flavored, and medium-plus experience. If you’re a cigar smoker who enjoys refined cigars—albeit sparingly—you would love this Montecristo as a weekend indulgence. For all others craving a full, complex cigar, the Epic Vintage 12 needs to be next up on your ‘must-try’ list.

Montecristo Nicaragua Cigar Review

By Gary Korb

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto (5″ x 54)
Strength: Full
Wrapper/Binder/Filler: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: Beautiful, copper-hued wrapper is silky and seamlessly rolled with a well-applied cap. Tobaccos are evenly-packed throughout, and the cigar has a nice feel and weight in the hand.
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Sweet and leathery.
Toasting and Light: Hardly any resistance to flame, and the cigar virtually lit itself evenly across simply by blowing on the foot several times.
First few puffs: Earth, wood and peppery spice.
Retrohale: Black pepper, burnt caramel.
Base flavors: Earth, sweet spice, charred cedar, black pepper.
Aroma: Sharp with a subtle sweetness.
Burn / Ash Quality: Excellent. The burn is mostly even with a ripply carbon line. The ash is almost entirely gray color and forms a nice crown and cherry.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.

Summary: Montecristo Nicaragua is the first Montecristo cigar made by a third party – in this case, AJ Fernandez – to be added to the brand’s historic core line; the 5th in the line, actually. Like most of AJ’s blends, there’s plenty of Nicaraguan spice in the mix, especially in the first half-inch. At that point, the flavor shifts to a sweeter component, while leaving a peppery wake on a long finish.

Montecristo Cigars Guide - Montecristo Nicaragua Cigar Review - Gary Korb
A Montecristo collaboration on which AJ Fernandez puts his peppery imprint – and takes this Monte blend to full Nicaraguan puro.

The cigar burns well, and although the ash has a very solid appearance, it surrenders easily to gravity. The smoke is creamy and well-balanced offering bold notes of earth, sweet tobacco, charred cedar, and black pepper throughout. The most impressive takeaway is the delicate balance between the sweetness and pepper. Although coffee reveals a little complexity, pairing with such drinks as Bourbons, Single Malts, and dark Rums will undoubtedly expose even more flavors.

This is far from an introductory choice for new cigar smokers looking for their first Montecristo, but experienced cigar smokers with a taste for Nicaraguan tobaccos will find the Montecristo Nicaragua Series a welcome and pleasantly heady addition to their collection.

Montecristo Espada Cigar Review

By John Pullo

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Ricasso (Robusto, 5″ x 54)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: No shortage of advertising, Espada is more band than cigar. Underneath, the cigar is well-packed, firm to the squeeze. Nice seams, excellent construction.
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light flavor: Earth, leather & oak.
Toasting & Light: A lengthy toast to get it up and running, started burning nicely.
Base flavors: Full, eye-opening flavors out of the gate: leather, earth, spice, dark coffee.
Retrohale: There’s a big shot of black pepper and aged wood.
Aroma: Aroma has an “aged” feel to it, very light.
Burn / Ash Quality: Ash is grey and layered, dropping off at about 1”. Burn is pretty spot-on throughout.
Balance of flavors: The flavor swings are pretty big…but similar in intensity.
Consistency: More complex than consistent, Espada is a pretty diverse smoke.

Summary: Nicaraguan tobacco plays both parts well: mellow or robust. A Nicaraguan puro, Montecristo Espada does both, crafted with vintage Nicaraguan tobaccos that date as far back as 2008. That certainly accounts for the “aged” aroma and taste in the retrohale.

Unlike any of the other Montecristo cigars in their lineup, Espada uses a slightly oily, nearly-smooth Habano wrapper that smells heavy in leather, plus earth and cedar on the cold draw. The opening notes lean very full, with thick, chewy rips of smoke; the finish is pretty short. The first flavors are very intense, and there’s nothing sweet in here – leather and exotic spices, plus a dried fruit tang over a very noticeable char type of taste. I think “bitey” is the word.

This Montecristo steps back from the edge and mellows partway through the first half – it’s big on super dark coffee, like Starbucks or straight black French roast. There’s a meaty taste, sprinkled with cinnamon.

Halfway has been the sweet spot for the Montecristo cigars I’ve reviewed here: the hardline flavors drift away in favor of tangy, sweeter elements, then finishes out with a return of pepper – and that dark coffee taste is back with it.

If you like ‘em full and complex, I bet you’d enjoy pairing the Montecristo Espada with a heavier beer or Islay whisky; since this is probably a 90-minute robusto, you better make it two.

Monte by Montecristo Cigars by AJ Fernandez

By Tommy Zman

Country of Origin: Nicaraguan
Size: Toro (6″ x 55)
Strength: Medium to Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Filler: Nicaragua Criollo ‘98
Binder: Nicaragua Criollo ’98 and Dominican Piloto Cubano

Draw: Perfect.
Pre-Light: Earth & cocoa.
First Few Puffs: Slightly peppery and coffee.
Retrohale: A bit tingly from the upfront pepper.
Aroma: Slightly charry.
Burn/Ash Quality: Solid, perfect, light gray.
Balance of Flavors: Complex with excellent balance.

Summary: Just another triumph by AJ Fernandez. This is a dark, delicious medium to full bodied treat, something that normally doesn’t come to mind when you’re talking about Montecristo cigars. It’s a square-pressed stick with a whole lot of complex goodness going on inside. Right off the bat you get a nice smack of pepper that is really prevalent on the retrohale. But that doesn’t last long as a sweet cocoa hits the taste buds. As you get one-third to halfway through, the flavors intensify with notes of roasted nuts and a nice spice. The final third gets even tastier as you get a pleasant hit of what tastes a bit like dark plum. The ash is solid and grows back solid every time you give it a tap. This is a hell of an excellent new AJ creation and I will be back for more.

Monte by Montecristo Cigars Review

By Fred Lunt

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Conde (5 ½” x 48 Robusto)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Binder: Dominican Olor/Vintage Nicaraguan Corojo (Double Binder)
Filler: Aged Dominican

Construction and Overall Appearance: Wrapper is beautifully dark brown and oily, one small soft spot that should be noted around the 2/3. Pigtail cap tops off the whole package.
Draw: Just the right amount of give.
Pre-light flavor: Leather, dark chocolate on the foot and a dark chocolate, earth, and leather on the pre-light draw.
Toasting & Light: Toasty and nutty up front, a pepper bite and with a slight sweetness and leather aftertaste.
Base flavors: Caramel sweetness, cedar wood, black pepper, leather.
Retrohale: Very sweet leather and wood with black pepper.
Aroma: Wood and pepper.
Burn / Ash Quality: Ash held nice and tight, with a snowy white color.
Balance of flavors: Incredibly well balanced. The black pepper never overpowered but complemented the caramel and cedar flavors.
Consistency: Flavor changes were very slow.

Summary: A+ to this cigar. The Monte by Montecristo hit me just right on every point: perfect construction, flavor, strength, and complexity. The oily Ecuadorian Habano wrapper added a marvelous touch to the aesthetics of the cigar.

Upon toasting, there was a great kick of toast and a pleasurable nuttiness followed by dry fruit and a peppery bite with a leathery aftertaste. Once the Monte opened more, I found the smoke very juicy (in a good way) – a sweet dried fruit and caramel profile takes over while cedar and leather remain very strong. By the 2/3 Monte is really giving me a ride, burning very slow and loaded with flavor. While black pepper shifted towards my lips and throat, the main flavors gravitated toward cedar and a caramel sweetness.

As the final third draws near, I detect a little vanilla in the sweetness. By the end, the sweet caramel and cedar wood are the top dogs on my palate while black pepper and leather hit as well. The Monte proved one juicy and meaty smoke. While it leans toward medium-full bodied, I feel as though I’ve eaten a whole meal with this cigar. I feel it in the gut – a very filling sensation I can only describe as perfect!

Montecristo Relentless Cigar Review

By Fred Lunt

Country of Origin: Nicaragua Size: Toro (6″ x 52)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Rosado
Binder: Nicaragua (Ometepe)
Filler: Nicaragua (Jalapa, Condega, and Esteli)

Construction: The wrapper has a gorgeous chestnut brown hue, very finely veined with a nice oily shine.
Draw: Perfect
Pre-light flavor: Foot: Very wood, lightly musty, with a subtle peppery spice. Cold Draw: Toasted bread, earth, and spices.
Toasting & Light: Very easy.
Initial notes: Incredibly toasty and woody upfront. A slight creaminess and nuttiness in the background and a subtle hint of coffee with a peppery finish.
Base flavors: Cedar, toffee, cashews, spice, coffee, and citrus.
Retrohale: A peppery spice, cedar, coffee, and a citrus tang.
Aroma: Cedar wood and vanilla.
Burn / Ash Quality: Perfect, very thin burn line and a snowy white ash.
Balance of flavors: The strength is medium in body, leaving room for a profile that’s heavy in warm spices, rich sweetness, and nutty undertones.

Summary: Keeping in tune with the Montecristo experience (thanks to an assist by Plasencia), the Relentless is richly flavorful right off the bat – jumpstarting the taste buds with notes of toffee, cedar, berries, espresso, and cashews. The profile blossoms into a full-blown smorgasbord from there: tastes of caramel, toffee and rich cream with a buttery mouthfeel, capped off with a cedary finish.

Montecristo Cigars Guide - Montecristo Relentless by Plasencia Cigar Review - Fred Lunt
With Plasencia in the mix, this Monte Relentless has been called “a solid smoke with excellent attributes.”

At the midway mark a subtle floral note chimes in, backed by a honey like sweetness, toffee, and a delectable combination of citrus, earth and coffee on the finish.

This revised edition of the Relentless hums at a medium strength from start to finish; there’s a score of buttery and floral notes, plus cedar and a warm, rich baking spice. With so much to offer flavor-wise, the Relentless lives up to the Montecristo name and then some. Pair this premium with a blonde ale or single malt scotch.

Montecristo Epic Cigar Review

By John Pullo

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Toro (6″ x 52)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Vintage Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos

Construction and Overall Appearance: A nice, slightly mottled brown color – somewhat veiny.
Draw: A bit tight here.
Pre-light flavor: At the foot, barnyard along with a dark sensation of either coffee or cocoa; pre-light draw has wood notes, and was slightly tangy.
Toasting & Light: Quick to take flame, and thick smoke present immediately.
Base flavors: Only a very slight spice, marked by earth, cream and some fruitiness – like cherries.
Retrohale: Tangy, and that’s where the spice is hiding…
Aroma: Sweet and mellow.
Burn / Ash Quality: Ash is grey and layered; burn line is nice and straight for first half.
Balance of flavors: Nice mix that never goes too far in one direction.
Consistency: Base flavors are consistent, but there are a ton of toppings that come and go.

Summary: Upon lighting, thick smoke pours out almost immediately. The mix is a combination of select, vintage Nicaraguan and Dominican leaf; the result is a wild ride of flavors that come and go, all on top of some base notes of tangy cherry, wood and dark, sweet tobacco.

Pepper is almost non-existent, only showing up as the cigar moved past the 1/3 mark – it comes and goes, and is barely noticeable except for that spot in particular. Otherwise, it’s complex for sure: first third is a little bready – not dry, like toast, but like fresh bread; tangy and salty, too. Then, a move towards big woody notes, plus a coffee sensation (the dark roasted kind) booms in; the Montecristo Epic gets leathery, too, and you might even find yourself reminded of toasted nut or even caramel.

A burn issue about halfway through required a touch up to keep it on task, but the Epic remained satisfyingly tangy throughout, and tasting toasty, woody and leathery towards the end. Bonus: a savory sensation builds towards the end, getting a little fuller. Overall, this is a whole different breed among Montecristo cigars – so if you want to see how Monte can do lip-smacking good, grab the Epic (also reviewed here, paired with Pinot Noir) and see what it can do for you.

Montecristo Platinum Series Cigar Review

By Fred Lunt

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Toro (6″ x 50)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: San Andres Cubano
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Peru

Construction and Overall Appearance: No soft spots, construction is on point like you’d expect from Montecristo cigars.
Draw: A little tight but not enough to affect my smoking experience
Pre-light flavor: Leather and wood on the foot and sweet; the cold draw is almost fruity with notes of leather, cedar, and black licorice.
Toasting & Light: Leather and cedar are heavy in the initial puffs with a semi-sweet oak flavor.
Base flavors: Honey, cedar, pepper, and leather.
Retrohale: Pepper, cedar wood and honey.
Aroma: Cedar.
Burn / Ash Quality: Very white ash that holds well, only ashed twice.
Balance of flavors: Overall a very sweet cigar with complementing flavors in the background.
Consistency: A tasty, sweet cigar that was well balanced by its subtleties – medium bodied but full of flavor.

Summary: The Montecristo Platinum Series is easily one of my top 10 cigars and for damn good reason. Let’s start with the blend, an oily red-brown San Andres Cubano wrapper that adorns the Dominican binder and a flavorfully blended filler mix of Nicaraguan, Dominican, and Peruvian tobacco; leading to a hefty cigar, medium in body and rich in taste. The pre-light featured leather and wood on the foot with a vaguely fruity cold draw and notes of black licorice, cedar, and leather.

The Platinum starts off heavily with a very sweet cedar flavor, toast, and a leathery finish. As it opens up more, the rich sweetness of the Mexican wrapper dominates over notes of toast while a cool pepper takes the finishing note. With the second third came a change in the sweetness as it moved from vague to a very honey-like richness. Notes of molasses and an herbal note even became apparent as well. Although the draw is a tad tight, the construction is flawless and the ash held tight enough that I only ashed this cigar twice.

At the last third the intensity picked up more as the pepper became a bigger flavor with a distinct cedar and leather following suit. The pepper did add a bit of a scratchy feeling in the back of my throat. I can really only sum up the finale as one flavorfully sweet experience with a rich cedar and peppery flavor.

Montecristo White Vintage Cigar Review

By Gary Korb

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Double Corona (6¼” x 50)
Strength: Medium-Full
Wrapper: Vintage 2008 U.S. Connecticut Shade (Grown on Montecristo’s exclusive farms in the Connecticut Windsor Valley.)
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Peru

Construction and Overall Appearance: Ideal. Even-hued milk-chocolate colored wrapper with no protruding veins, a seamless roll, and a perfectly applied triple seam cap.
Draw: Excellent.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Leather and figs.
First few puffs: Sweet and salty.
Retrohale: Smooth with a dusty cocoa element.
Base flavors: Sweet cream, cedar, vanilla toffee, roasted nuts
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn / Ash Quality: Very good. A bit wavy at first, but after a quick touch-up it presented no issues. Ash was mostly grey in color and moderately firm.
Balance of flavors: Perfect.

Summary: Was totally blown-away by the amount of sheer sweetness this cigar had – talk about a “dessert cigar.” The final third offered a more full-bodied smoke as the flavors intensified (stronger notes of wood are revealed), but the balance remained dead-on. A great cigar for those who appreciate the finer qualities of U.S.-grown Connecticut Shade wrapper and the complexities found in finer cigars.

Montecristo White Series Cigar Review

By Tommy Zman

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Especial No. 4 (7″ x 50 Churchill)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Draw: Perfect.
Pre-Light: Clean, slightly sweet.
First Few Puffs: Very nutty and naturally sweet upfront.
Retrohale: Intense cedar.
Aroma: Woody.
Burn/Ash Quality: Solid white.
Balance of Flavors: Great balance of different flavors.

Summary: The Montecristo White Series is truly an elegant smoke, one that is meant to be savored when you’ve got some down-time and you have time to sit and enjoy. This is a very rich and creamy stick that has great balance and is wonderfully complex – no surprise it’s one of our 10 Top-Rated Dominican Cigar Brands. From the moment you take your first puff, a naturally sweet nuttiness covers your palate that has a dessert-like quality. Hints of honey and cream come through as well as a light coffee flavor. And man, does this thing draw and burn perfectly as it lets off a ton of billowing white smoke. And while I’ve noted this is a great dessert cigar, a hearty steak or pork might overwhelm it a bit – I’d recommend it after something like grilled chicken or shrimp. Pairs wonderfully with your after-dinner coffee and a tawny Port wine.

Montecristo Classic Cigar Review

By John Pullo

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Churchill (7″ x 54)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: U.S. Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican Select
Filler: Dominican Republic

Construction and Overall Appearance: Beautiful caramel colored Connecticut; a couple of ripples, but mostly smooth. A few water spots on the leaf.
Draw: Decent draw.
Pre-light flavor: A whiff of barnyard, tobacco and honey from the foot; pre-light had a mellow flavor that was a little sweet, with hay and tea.
Toasting & Light: Decent smoke production right off the bat.
Base flavors: The base was super mellow – light earth, nut, bread, oak. The Montecristo Classic adds a little pepper and leather later on.
Retrohale: A little bitey here, with hints of charred wood and black pepper.
Aroma: Light and floral.
Burn / Ash Quality: A nice white ash, a bit flaky. The Monte Classic got off to a wavy start, but straightened out.
Balance of flavors: Very well balanced atop that “Connecticut” taste prevalent in most of the core Montecristo cigars.
Consistency: Sweet throughout, with very smooth transitions. “Steady as she goes…”

Summary: This big-ass Montecristo Classic Churchill is a mouthful, and the biggest size in the bunch – easily expect that you’ll set aside a smoking time of nearly 2 hours. A bit mushy to the touch, this stick might have benefitted from a little time out of the humidor before lighting.

The transitions are very slow and subtle, except for the moments when the pepper and leather notes drop by. Otherwise, the Monte Classic moves from mild flavor to mild flavor on top of a mellow sweetness all throughout; that’s a nice change, as my experience with milder Connecticuts has had them taste a little dry with occasional flashes of bitterness.

Some consider Montecristo cigars (in general) to be creamy smokes. For me, not so much – while the Classic certainly puffed big, the smoke was a bit on the thinner side. But then, a nice shift about halfway through: the thickness of the smoke beefed up, toasty flavors came on, and the cigar’s sweetness was replaced by hints of green tea and mellow roasted coffee. The retrohale was a surprise, and actually somewhat intense.

If you’re looking for wild and exotic flavors, this isn’t the Monte to pick; instead, I’d consider this a connoisseurs’ cigar, where nicely refined flavors slowly mature. It would probably pair very well with some equally decadent hobbies, too: artisanal coffees, aged rums or wines, you get the idea. Let’s just say that if you’re a foodie, I think the Montecristo Classic is worth a try.

Montecristo Crystal Seleccion Cigar Review

By Fred Lunt

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Churchill (7″ x 50)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: U.S. Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic

Construction and Overall Appearance: Uniform looking CT wrapper with a slight crack at the foot. A fairly heavy cigar, seems to be well packed and no soft spots.
Draw: Fairly easy.
Pre-light flavor: Strong sensation of dried fruits, wood and leather.
Toasting & Light: Popcorn toastiness, leather, and a white pepper aftertaste early on.
Base flavors: toast, leather, white pepper and cedar wood.
Retrohale: Leather and white pepper.
Aroma: Very woody.
Burn / Ash Quality: Razor sharp burn line with a snowy white ash.
Balance of flavors: Very well-balanced smoke – the sweetness complements the wood and other supporting notes well.
Consistency: A fairly straight forward smoke.

Summary: The Crystal Seleccion may be the only Monte I had never smoked. Like all Montecristo cigars, this was expertly rolled and had a nice heavy feel to it while the true Connecticut wrapper is remarkably handsome with very fine veins. The pre-light reminded me of dried fruits with leather and a white pepper aftertaste.

Crystal Seleccion started off nice and sweet, the notes of dried fruits from the pre-light were in the background as flavors of toast came through, with a pleasant white pepper aftertaste. Around the first inch the cigar picks up a very pleasant sweetness with a toasty note. A bit of pepper, and fruity and peppery aftertaste; at this point, the Crystal is very balanced with a sweet woodiness with notes of toast, leather, and a hint of dried fruit.

By the 2/3 mark, the notes of pepper have died off and this premium cigar was fully open as a smooth buttery-sweet smoke with loads of toast, wood and leather. This proved a very straight forward smoke with a lot of sweet, creamy, and woody flavors – while not overly complex it paired with coffee better than I could have hoped. If you want a smooth Dominican cigar, medium in body but full of flavor – crack a tube of Crystal goodness.

Montecristo Cigar Review (Montecristo “Yellow”)

By Gary Korb

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: No. 2 (Torpedo, 6″ x 36/50)
Strength: Mild-Medium
Wrapper: U.S. Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic

Construction and Overall Appearance: Excellent. No soft spots. Wrapper is seamlessly rolled, very silky with no sign of veins, and even in its caramel color with a perfectly applied cap.
Draw: Excellent.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Leather & cedar.
First few puffs: Smooth and woody.
Retrohale: Peppery.
Base flavors: Cedar, oak, sweet spice, white pepper.
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn / Ash Quality: Burn was slightly wobbly with a thin carbon line. Ash is grey with black marbling and flaky when ashed.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.

Summary: The definitive “relaxation” smoke, brought to you by Montecristo cigars. Brimming mostly with wood, spice, and a nip of pepper on the finish. The cigar gets off to a woody start and transitions to a slightly more complex smoke as it works its way through the midsection picking up more defined notes of oak, spice and some sweetness. Overall, the smoke was smooth, creamy and perfectly-balanced throughout. Go by past experience and pair this classic with a crisp, clean-drinking pilsner.

Montecristo Pilotico Pepe Mendez Cigar Review (Discontinued)

By Gary Korb

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Robusto (5″ x 50)
Strength: Medium-Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Nicaragua, Dominican Pilotico

cigar advisor essential guide to montecristo cigars - pilotico (discontinued) Construction and Overall Appearance: A handsome little devil of a cigar that’s well packed and quite hefty for a 50-ring Robusto. Wrapper is entirely even in color with a seamlessly applied multi-seam cap. (I suggest removing the oversized second band prior to lighting.)
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Leather and raisins.
First few puffs: After an initial pepper shot, the smoke turns creamy and woody with some lingering pepper on the palate.
Retrohale: Piquant, but not peppery.
Base flavors: Cedar, raisins, sweet spice, coffee bean.
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn / Ash Quality: Burn is slow and even with a micro-thin carbon line. The ash is mostly grey with some darker patches, a bit on the flaky side, but holds firm while on the cigar.
Balance of flavors: Perfect.

Summary: This robusto wastes little time revealing a wealth of chewy smoke brimming with creamy, complex flavors. Flavors of sweet spice mingle with caramelized flavors of coffee, cedar and dried fruit for most of the ride – and a perfectly-balanced ride it is, too – right down to the last inch. The Montecristo Pilotico Robusto should prove to be a very satisfying selection for cigar smokers with more developed palates.

Montecristo Epic Craft Cured Cigar Review (Discontinued)

By Fred Lunt

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Toro (6″ x 52)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Rosado (Aged 11 Years)
Binder: Nicaragua (Ometepe)Filler: Nicaragua (Esteli, Condega, and Jalapa)

cigar advisor essential guide to montecristo cigars - epic craft cured (discontinued) Construction: Comes with some serious heft, a well packed cigar. The wrapper is a fine, chestnut brown specimen with plenty of oils.
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light flavor: Foot: Musty, woody, leathery and pepper. Cold draw: Toasty, leathery, earthy and sweet with pepper in the background.
Initial notes: A papery start quickly blows out to toast, leather, peanuts, and a red pepper spice.
Base flavors: Aged cedar, honey, leather, red pepper spice, and coffee.
Retrohale: Woody and sweet, with a nice rush of red pepper spice.
Aroma: Cedar wood, toast, and tobacco.
Burn / Ash Quality: The burn has a shaky start with a very wavy burn line. Ash is a beautiful marbled white.

Summary: After the pepper fades, the Epic warms up with an abundance of aged cedar, cream, toasted bread, leather and lemon zest. Each puff is sweeter than the last with a savory, meaty finish. Over time, aged cedar and a new honey sweetness become the dominant notes with leather and coffee rounding out the smoke. Strength remains medium with an incredibly rich and creamy profile. Though the smoke production is a bit thin, there’s a pleasant mushroom-like mustiness that’s to die for; the addition of peanuts, lemon and a touch of spice make it pop all the more.

Montecristo Cigars Guide - Montecristo Epic Craft Cured Cigar Review - Fred Lunt

By midway through, this cigar is open for business: there’s a rich, dark rum-like flavor, plus leather and aged wood – creaminess abounds, with a string of spice and coffee on the finish.

The cedar takes on a toasty note, enhancing the savory leather and earth components as the Epic Craft Cured chugs on to the end.

In all, a finely complex addition to the Montecristo lineup – and one that’s stacked with sweet and savory flavors to fit the “Epic” nameplate. Pair with a hardy Rye whiskey or stout.

Montecristo Ciudad de Musica Cigar Review (Discontinued)

By John Pullo

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Sublime (6” x 54 Toro)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic

cigar advisor essential guide to montecristo cigars - ciudad de musica (discontinued) Construction: Rolled firm, it’s a heavy smoke. The huge band makes it hard to judge the wrapper’s appearance – but I can see a few veins, mottled chestnut coloring and a nice oily finish.
Draw: Good – firm.
Pre-light flavor: Slight spice, earth and bakery flavors – like cookies.
Toasting & Light: Starts with pepper, dark roast coffee and a bit of sweetness.
Base flavors: Sweet citrus, creamy, pepper, earth and wood.
Retrohale: Sweet, with a taste of crackers and laid-back pepper.
Aroma: Roasted nuts and woody.
Burn & Ash Quality: Solid burn performance, no touch ups; salt and pepper ash holds strong.
Balance of flavors: Hold firm on the base flavors, with some nice flavors at the edges.

Summary: A Crowned Heads-Montecristo mashup that means “the Music City,” in honor of Crowned Heads’ Nashville home. This is a combo effort, putting the blending skills of Ernesto Perez-Carrillo with the Crowned Heads vibe to make a smoke that honors the Montecristo cigar legacy. It’s quite a project…let’s smoke it.

Generous amounts of smoke from the outset, filled with a really dark coffee sensation. Within a few puffs, the Ciudad de Musica gets a gloriously sweet taste around the fringe, that’s a lot like powdered sugar. Then some sweet citrus comes in – put it all together, and I can’t get the impression of lemon bars out of my head. More tangy notes slowly seep in, with some earthiness; this is a super-creamy smoke, by the way.

Montecristo Cigars Guide - Montecristo Ciudad de Musica Cigar Review - John Pullo
Ciudad de Musica: it’s where Crowned Heads, Montecristo and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo collide in a lush, sweet smoke.

Halfway through, and the shift is on…the pepper is gone; the citrus dials back to a sweet and subtle taste. Cedar and earth come to the front of the line, along with a coffee-and-cream flavor. At this point, I’m inclined to say you should take your time and smoke this Monte slowly – there’s an undercurrent that’s kind of peaty, and it feels like it could jump up and wreck things if your rush it. This Crowned Heads Montecristo finishes woody, although still slightly sweet with a bit of leftover pepper and earth.

While Ciudad de Musica is a collaboration, I’d say this cigar leans more Crowned Heads than Montecristo; so if you’re a Crowned Heads fan, you’ll enjoy the change of pace that the lush and creamy flavors brings. If you’re a Montecristo devotee, this adds a delicious coffee and sweetness that you might be missing with some of those other blends. Smoke it and see for yourself – I’d recommend with a cup of coffee.