Montecristo

Edmundo Dantes Conde 54 Edición Regional México 2011

With it having been nearly ten years since my last trip to Mexico and with sadly no plans to go back soon, I jumped on the opportunity to purchase an Habano brand created solely for the Mexico market – Edmundo Dantes. With its primary brown anilla embossed with the eponymous protagonist of Alexandre Dumas’ arguably most famous novel, trademark issues and Habanos S.A.’s own internal designation of Montecristo as a “global brand” were the reasons that this cigar was not simply sold as a Cuban Montecristo cigar. This was the second regional edition, with only 1,000 numbered boxes each containing 25 cigars having been produced, making this a rare cigar only four years on.

For a while, I had heard much praise concerning this cigar, with the Sublimes vitola de galera being one of my favourites. Moreover, the rarity, originality and mild ageing proved too tempting to pass up on. The Montecristo Edición Limitada 2008 in the Sublimes size would be a very high benchmark to live up to, and for that reason I tried to be as objective as possible whilst tasting this puro.

I carefully caressed the boquilla with the scalpel-like fine point of a blue flame cigar lighter and drew the first few puffs full of expectation. A couple of minutes into the tasting, the erratic burn was as displeasing as the lack of both flavour and smoke. Expecting big, earthy Montecristo flavours mingled with spice left me wondering where they had escaped to. I carried on into the final part of the first third to at last perceive a modicum of spice and depth which finally appeared after an almost entirely herbal prelude.

A gentle massage of the body of the well-filled cigar improved the volume of smoke and a nutty creaminess started to permeate. Some clove spiciness on the retrohale was a welcome addition to what seemed too bland for a supposed Montecristo blend, particularly of this grand a vitola.

Without great need of relighting, at least the composition of the volado and capote leaves and combustibility generally seemed very good. Some complexity finally emerged in the final third along with until now, a critical lack of Montecristo earthiness. Regrettably, it was too little, too late with what I presume to have been overexposure to prolonged, dry conditions for the taste was far too lacklustre to be a Montecristo. Nonetheless, with one more example in the humidor, I will be able to certify my current view of this cigar – not worth it.

Tasting notes and details:

Edmundo Dantes Conde 54 Edición Regional México 2011

Factory NameSublimes

Size54 x 6.5”  (21.43 x 164)mm

Box code and dateNot available

Wrapper – Smooth, colorado wrapper.

Draw – compact to the touch and draw a little too tight. Pre-light notes exude a hint of woodiness and earth. No ammonia or spice.

First third – Very mild almost herbal and aromatic first inch. Very faint Montecristo taste in the distance. Finally a hint of spice appears well into the tasting.

Second third – Draw improves and a nutty creaminess starts to permeate. Some clove spiciness on the retrohale. Earthiness not quite there.

Last third – Aromatic with subtle floral spice. Very late on with only two inches left, some earthiness intensifies along with a hint of dark cocoa.

PairingHavana Club Selección de Maestros Cuban rum 45%. Refraining from putting a customary ice cube in the glass may have hampered the experience. That said, it proved to be a good quality rum to sip straight and also to pair with a medium-strength, earthy cigar.

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© 2015, Harmic Davidkhanian. All rights reserved.

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Montecristo Churchill Añejados

Montecristo is the most ubiquitous of all Cuban cigars brands, with the majority of Habanos S.A.’s revenue coming from sales of the soon to be octogenarian brand (having been established in 1935). This is the first documented release of Montecristo cigars for public sale of this vitola – a parejo of the Julieta No.2 factory appellation, commonly known since 1947 as the “Churchill” size, and showcased with great fanfare at this week’s Festival del Habano XVII as part of the new line of Añejados (rolled and boxed Habanos aged between 5-8 years before release).

At first glance, its sturdy structure certainly makes it look like a flavoursome cigar to enjoy after a grand meal in the evening with a worthily paired digestif. On closer inspection, the light and somewhat speckled colorado shade of wrapper exhibited in all the boxes when they were first made available in the UK may not be that impressive – especially to those like me, who prefer a darker shade on the capa.

Contemplating an accompaniment to this aged Montecristo left me concerned not to choose anything overpowering, yet still embodying a crucial sweetness and long finish to compensate the expected earthiness the brand is famous for. A bottle of Rémy Martin Reserve Cellar Selection Cellar N°28 cognac that I shrewdly purchased in LAX duty free (set for first European release in April 2015) came to mind. Rémy Martin’s twenty-nine ageing cellars in Domaine de Merpins in the Cognac region of France each have different layouts, temperatures and humidity levels to induce different aromatic impressions to their respective maturing liquid gold. The Maître de Chai (Cellar Master) selection of Cellar N°28 celebrates the unique aromatic style of the eaux-de-vie from that particular cellar with its “rich candied fruit notes”. Designated as an XO (above 20 years old), using some of the rarest blends available, I hoped that this would be the right match.

The good pre-light draw without any bitter ammonia notes turned out to be a misjudged indication as to what came next. The first few puffs had expected earthiness but certainly more spice than I anticipated. Barely an inch into the tasting, a sudden kick of white pepper flashed on the retrohale. Furthermore, the somewhat ‘meagre’ cepo felt awkward to begin with, as the volume of smoke was not as generous as I have grown accustomed to, principally smoking much thicker cigars.

Nonetheless, a sip of the Selection du Maître de Chai refreshed my palate with rich dried fruits and a wonderfully long finish. The Churchill may have sensed my plea for more subtlety and mellower and creamier, milk chocolate notes graciously came to pass. With the second third starting to showcase the complexity of the aged tobacco, a hint of anise on the retrohale was satisfying. The last third developed further with darker chocolate notes veiled with complex earthiness and spice. With barely an inch left, my Añejado experience concluded with the promising thought that only a few more years of ageing would refine the balance and pleasure of a future tasting.

Tasting notes and details:

Montecristo Churchill Añejados

Factory NameJulieta No.2

Size47 x 7.0”  (18.65 x 178)mm

Box code and dateASB  JUL06

WrapperColorado capa with no protruding veins. A few faint beauty spots present.

Draw – Good draw. Box age very apparent as pre-light notes exhibit complete lack of ammonia. Faint nuances of earthiness.

First third – Earthiness from the start but also a burst of white pepper which thankfully mellows out to some delicate milk chocolate notes.

Second third – Starts to further show its age with greater complexity coming through. A hint of anise in addition to more milk chocolate and earthiness on the retrohale.

Last third – Darker chocolate veiled by earthiness and stronger spice. Still smoking well with only an inch left.

PairingRémy Martin Reserve Cellar Selection Cellar N°28 (travel retail exclusive) cognac – 40%. Nose of red candied fruits does not disappoint with the silky texture wrapping the taste buds with a lingering finish and refreshing the palate for the later complex flavours of the cigar.

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© 2015, Harmic Davidkhanian. All rights reserved.

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