The Montecristo 80th Anniversary is limited edition cigar released by Altadis USA to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Montecristo brand. Montecristo traces its roots back to 1935 when Alonso Menendez and José Manuel Pepe Garcia started a brand in Cuba inspired by the Alexandre Dumas novel, The Count of Montecristo. While the brand is still an iconic brand in Cuba, Altadis USA has also long marketed a non-Cuban version primarily for the U.S. market. For the 80th anniversary milestone, Altadis has opted to release a limited edition cigar that features an all-new blend in a box-pressed version of Montecristo’s iconic No. 2 (belicoso) size. One differentiating factor with this cigar is the inclusion of a rare filler tobacco called Dominican Pilotico. The Montecristo 80th Anniversary No. 2 was launched at the 2015 IPCPR Trade Show and has now made its way to retailers. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to smoke this cigar. Overall, I found this to be an excellent cigar that delivered an enjoyable smoking experience.
After Menendez and Garcia established the Montecristo brand in Cuba, things took a turn following the Cuban Revolution of 1959. The revolution led to the nationalization of the Cuban cigar industry. Following the Cuban revolution, Menendez and Garcia fled to the Canary Islands and eventually made their way to Dominican Republic where they re-established the brand. When the duo settled in the Dominican Republic, they met another Cuban refugee named Pepe Mendez with whom they started sourcing tobacco from.
Mendez had also fled Cuba. When he did this he took some seeds with him and set them aside. Recently the Mendez family grew some tobacco in the Navarrese region of the Dominican Republic from those seeds. That tobacco is the Dominican Pilotico tobacco that would be incorporated to this brand. This tobacco is difficult to grow because it is very susceptible to mold resulting in lower yields, so it can be considered a rare tobacco.
For the Montecristo 80th Anniversary No. 2, Altadis USA has allocated 3,000 twelve count dark oak boxes.
They also made 50 commemorative humidors containing eighty Montecristo 80th Anniversary cigars.
In addition to the Montecristo 80th Anniversary, in 2015 Altadis USA has put considerable attention on the Montecristo brand as a whole. Other releases that were unveiled by Altadis USA at the 2015 IPCPR Trade Show include the Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut, the Espada by Montecristo Estoque and the Especial No. 4 size to the Montecristo White Series. The 80th Anniversary was one of the stars of the entire trade show as it sold out on the first day.
One side note, in addition to the Montecristo 80th Anniversary, the Cuban brand is not being overlooked. Habanos SA has released the Montecristo Aniversario 80 – a 6 1/2 x 55 parajo.
Without further ado, let’s break down Altadis USA’s Montecristo 80th Anniversary No. 2 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The Montecristo 80th Anniversary was developed by Altadis’ Grupo de Maestros – a the team representing Altadis’ most skilled cigar makers.
The blend features an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper over a Dominican Olor 2010 binder, and filler that consists of Nicaraguan Criollo ’98, Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 and the rare Dominican Pilotico tobacco.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Dominican Olor 2010
Filler: Nicaraguan Criollo ’99, Nicaraguan Ciollo ’98, and Dominican Pilotico.
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
As mentioned, the Montecristo 80th Anniversary comes in one size – known as the No. 2. This is a box-pressed 6 x 54 belicoso.
The Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper has a medium brown color. Upon closer examination, there is a slight amount of darker marbling. This band is nearly flawless as it is very smooth. The band has a silky complexion to it. Of the 80th Anniversary No. 2 cigars I smoked, there wasn’t much in the way of visible wrapper seams or significant visible veins. The box-press itself has a square shape with a medium taper toward the tip of the belicoso.
There are three bands on the Montecristo 80th Anniversary. The primary band is a variation of the standard Montecristo band. At the center of the band is a black fleur-de-list sitting on a silver circle. A black outer circle surrounds the band with the text “MONTECRISTO” in white font on the upper half with two white initials below it. To the left and right is a black stripe with the text “80th” in white font. The band also a chrome colored trim.
The second band rests just below the primary band. This band is silver in color with the text “80th Anniversary” in black font. Surrounding the text to the left and right is a black fleur-de-lis. The band is finished with black and chrome trim.
The third band is on the footer. It is black in color with the text “Exclusive Pilotico” in silver font. This band is finished with silver and chrome trim.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up the Montecristo 80th Anniversary No. 2, I used a straight cut to remove the tip of the cigar. As what is now becoming standard practice with me for many figurado-shaped cigars, I used my Credo Special T cutter with the 36 ring gauge hole to get an ideal cut for this belicoso. Once the tip was removed, I moved on to the pre-light draw phase. The dry draw provided a mix of caramel, natural tobacco and cedar. Overall I considered this to be an outstanding pre-light draw. At this point I removed the footer band of 80th Anniversary cigar, lit up the cigar, and moved on to the cigar experience.
The Montecristo 80th Anniversary No. 2 continued the notes I had derived on the pre-light draw – namely caramel, natural tobacco, and black pepper. The caramel and natural tobacco notes moved to the forefront quickly while I picked up some cedar notes in the background. Meanwhile I also detected notes of black pepper on the retro-hale.
Ast the cigar moved through the first third, I found the caramel notes definitely had a slight edge over the natural tobacco notes. The cedar notes remained in the background, but I now picked up some black pepper in the distant background on the tongue. Finally there was also some the caramel sweetness a bit on the after-draw.
During the second third of the Montecristo 80th Anniversary, I found the caramel and natural tobcco notes were still in the forefront. The caramel notes maintained the edge during this part of the flavor profile. The cedar and black pepper remained in the background, but there also was a slight nut flavor.
By the last third, the caramel and natural tobacco notes remained primary. I found the nut, cedar, and pepper notes increased, but didn’t quite eclipse the primary notes. This is the way the flavor profile came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Overall I found the Montecristo 80th Anniversary No. 2 to be well-constructed cigar and this was reflected very nicely on the burn and draw. The burn line and burn path remained straight from start to finish. The cigar also maintained an ideal burn rate and burn temperature. The resulting ash had a charcoal gray color. While the ash was firm, it seemed to flower at the beginning each time I smoked the cigar, but after the first removing the first ash, the flowering did not occur any more.
As for the draw, it performed extremely well. It had a touch of resistance which is something that I normally like on a parejo more than a rounded cigar, but it seemed to work quite well on the 80th Anniversary No. 2making for an enjoyable smoking experience.
Strength and Body
One thing that surprised me about the strength was that for a Sumatra-wrapped cigar, the Montecristo 80th Anniversary No. 2 was on the milder side. I found this cigar started out with mild strength. By the midway point, I found the strength level had crossed into mild to medium strength. The strength did increase during the second half, but it fell short of reaching medium strength.
As for the body, it followed a very similar path. The notes of the Montecristo 80th Anniversary started out mild to medium-bodied. By the second half, the body increased to medium. Throughout the smoking experience, when it came to stength versus body, I gave the edge to the body.
From a flavor standpoint, the Montecristo 80th Anniversary No. 2 delivered very well. The caramel sweetness this cigar delivered was very nice. I liked the fact it was countered by a natural tobacco note that prevented it from getting “too sweet”. I also felt the fact this cigar was dialed back in terms of body, helped make that caramel sweetness shine. On the other hand, when compared to the other notes in the cigar, the caramel /natural tobacco combination dominated and it thwarted this cigar’s complexity a bit. Overall I still found the pluses outweighed the minuses here.
The Montecristo 80th Anniversary No. 2 is a cigar I’d recommend to an experienced cigar enthusiast who prefers a milder cigar. It’s also a great cigar for a novice cigar enthusiast. This cigar does carry a higher price tag ($22.00), so I’d gear this more toward a special occasion cigar. As for myself, it’s a cigar I would smoke again and it’s worthy of a box split.
Strength: Mild (1st Half), Mild to Medium (2nd Half)
Body: Mild to Medium (1st Half), Medium (2nd Half)
Assessment: 3.5-Box Split
News: Montecristo 80th Anniversary Launched by Altadis at 2015 IPCPR
Source: Cigar Provided by Manufacturer and Purchased
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