2017 CA Report: The Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to Montecristo Cigars

2017 CA Report: The Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to Montecristo Cigars

Cigar Advisor’s Essential Montecristo Cigars Tasting & Buying Guide

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 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. Of course, taste is subjective; add your experiences with these Montecristo cigars in the comments below!

Montecristo Espada Cigar Review

By John Pullo

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

montecristo cigars guide montecristo espada

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.

 

Montecristo Pilotico Pepe Mendez Cigar Review

By Gary Korb

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

montecristo cigars guide montecristo pilotico pepe mendez 

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.

 

Monte by Montecristo Cigars Review

By Fred Lunt

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size:  Conde 5 ½ x 48
Strength:  Medium
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Aged Dominican
Binder: Dominican Olor and Vintage Nicaraguan

montecristo cigars guide monte by montecristo

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!

 

Monte by Montecristo Cigars 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

montecristo cigars monte aj fernandez

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.

 

Montecristo Epic Cigar Review

By John Pullo

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

montecristo cigars guide Montecristo epic

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 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
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan, and Peruvian
Binder:  Dominican

montecristo cigars guide montecristo platinum

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 Series Cigar Review

By Tommy Zman

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

montecristo cigars guide montecristo white

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. 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 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.)
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan, Peruvian
Binder: Nicaraguan

montecristo cigars guide montecristo white vintage

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 Classic Cigar Review

By John Pullo

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Churchill (7×54)
Strength:  Medium
Wrapper: Connecticut-Connecticut Shade
Filler: Dominican Republic
Binder:  Dominican Select

montecristo cigars guide montecristo classic

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 Relentless Cigar Review

By Tommy Zman

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Toro (6 x 54)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Filler: Nicaraguan & Brazilian Mata Fina
Binder: Mexican San Andres

montecristo cigars guide montecristo relentless

Draw: Smooth

Pre-Light: Wood & sweetness

First Few Puffs: Very woody with a nice sweet component

Retrohale: Woody & smooth

Aroma: Light & pleasant

Burn/Ash Quality: Gray and white, held up nice for a while at the start

Balance of Flavors: Several core flavors balance nicely throughout

Summary:

Not as elegant as Montecristo Cigars’ White series; I’d say it’s more of a beefier Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade smoke. While it is reminiscent of the Montecristo Classic, the difference is that the Classic is all Dominican while the Relentless hits a bit harder with that Brazilian Mata Fina in the filler and the Mexican San Andres binder. And that would explain the ‘beefiness” that I spoke of. I wouldn’t say it’s an overly complex smoke, but it does give you some really nice solid flavors throughout. Lots of woody sweet cedar immediately hits you and stays pretty constant. And while it displays a nice, pleasant creaminess, those bolder tobaccos inside give it some spiciness and a good shot of oomph. This is definitely an interesting Monte with its own brash identity and works well as an after-dinner smoke. Pair it with a single malt or a bourbon and life suddenly becomes one big old happy place.

 

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
Filler: Dominican
Binder: Dominican

montecristo cigars guide montecristo yellow 

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.

 

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
Filler: Dominican
Binder:  Dominican

montecristo cigars guide montecristo crystal

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.

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