|Montecristo Epic Vintage 2007|
The Montecristo Epic is a cigar that it at the center of an expansion of the Montecristo line by Atladis. In the past 18 months, Altadis has seen many changes at the top with the departure of general manager Jim Colucci and master blender Jose Seijas. With Javier Estades moving into to Colucci’s role, Altadis has been one of the big stories of the cigar industry as the company has clearly moved into a direction to re-connect with a consumer-base that has now been embracing the boutique cigar market. At the center of this renaissance has been the Montecristo brand of Altadis. Montecristo has been long known as a premium brand within Altadis. The Montecristo Epic Vintage 2007 is at the core of the what is going on with the Montecristo. This introduces one a fuller strength, fuller bodied Montecristo to the brand. This cigar fires on all cylinders and delivers a simply outstanding cigar experience.
The renaissance within Montecristo started at the end of 2011 (and beginning of the Cigar Coop cigar year which begins Thanksgiving each year) with the release of the Montecristo New York Connoisseur Edition. This cigar is a new blend of Montecristo that is regional release for the New York market only. It was at the 2012 IPCPR where Altadis announced the Montecristo Texas Titan Edition– a regional release for the Texas market (also a different blend). The release of Montecristo New York almost seemed like the beginning of Altadis’ comeback as we scored it a 94. Since then, the releases of the VegaFina Sumum 2010 and Romeo by Romeo y Julieta have been widely embraced by the marketplace and (we) have scored 93 and 91 respectively. The Montecristo Vintage Epic 2007 appears poised to continue to take the baton forward for Altadis.
A skilled team is called “Grupos de Maestros” is involved in the production of the Montecristo Epic Vintage 2007. Let’s break down the Montecristo Epic Vintage 2007 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
As the name indicates, the Montecristo Epic Vintage 2007 uses a crop of tobaccos from 2007. It leverages the red-hot Ecuadorian Habano wrapper that has become a staple of the 2012 cigar market.
Wrapper: Select Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Special Selection of Vintage Nicaraguan and Dominican Tobaccos
While the tobaccos may differ, the profile of the Montecristo Epic has some similarities to the Montecristo New York. The Montecristo New York also has an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. It also has binder and filler from Nicaragua. The Epic does also leverage Dominican tobacco. I draw this comparison simply because I found the Montecristo New York to be one of the best smokes of the 2012 cigar year. This immediately raised the bar with the Montecristo Epic.
There are three core offerings in the Montecristo Epic Vintage 2007 line. The cigars are packaged ten per box.
Churchill: 7 x 56
Toro: 6 x 52
Robusto: 5 x 52
For 2012, Altadis is also making a limited edition vitola in the Montecristo Epic 2007 blend in the No. 2 (pyramid shape). The packaging will differ for this vitola.
No. 2: 6 x 50 (Pyramid)
For this cigar experience of the Montecristo Epic, I went with the Robusto vitola. The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper has a medium-brown color that almost resembles a dark caramel. The wrapper itself is oily in complexion. There are a few veins and a few wrapper seams that are visible.
There are two bands on the Montecristo Epic. The first is the familiar brown and white Montecristo band. There is also a secondary band. This band has a yellow stripe on the top half and a brown stripe on the bottom half. Above the yellow stripe and below the brown stripe is gold trim. On the yellow stripe is the text “EPIC” in gold font. On the brown stripe is “Premium Selection ’07” in white cursive font.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Before beginning my smoke of the Montecristo Epic, I went with a straight cut into the cigar. For those regular readers of this web-site, this is pretty much the norm for most cigars I assess. As I commenced with the pre-light draw, this one was tougher to build a flavor analogy. It seemed like dry draw flavor profile had a combination of leather, mild cherry sweetness, as well as a touch of cedar spice. Overall, it still was a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to fire up the Montecristo Epic and see what the cigar experience would bring to the table.
When I broke down the Montecristo Epic blend, I mentioned the similarity to the Montecristo New York. While I got a peppery stat to both cigars, after that I found a different flavor profile with the Epic when compared to the New York.
As I mentioned the Epic starts out with a blast of pepper. The pepper could be detected on both the tongue and through the nostrils. This gave way to some flavor notes of grass and earth. The pepper had more of an “exotic spice” quality to it. The grass and earth seemed present on the draw, while the spice was more present on the after-draw/finish. I also detected some cream notes as tertiary flavors. This flavor pattern held for much of the first third.
At the start of the second third, I started to pick up some subtle notes of coffee. These started out as tertiary notes with the cream, but slowly built up in intensity. By the midpoint of the smoke of the Montecristo Epic, the coffee flavors joined the earth and grass in the forefront. Meanwhile the exotic spice remained present on the after-draw.
Toward the end of the second third, the earth and grass notes dissipate, and the cream notes also increased in intensity. The Epic now has a profile of coffee and cream flavors. At the same time, the spice has morphed into more of a classic baker’s spice.
In the last third, some notes of orange citrus emerged. These notes along with the baker’s spice joined the coffee notes in the forefront. The cream notes returned to a background role. This was the flavor profile as the cigar experience of the Montecristo Epic comes to an end. The finish was not harsh. The resulting nub was firm and slightly warm in temperature.
Burn and Draw
|Burn of the Montecristo Epic|
Strength and Body
This Montecristo was billed as one that was going to be more full in terms of strength and body. I definitely found this to be the case. At the same time, this isn’t going to be a cigar to overpower in terms of these attributes. The Montecristo Epic starts out medium to full strength from a nicotine profile. It is toward the end of the Epic where the strength crosses into full-strength territory. The body of this cigar follows a similar profile. There is some nice depth to the flavor notes as the Epic starts out medium to full-bodied. Toward the end of the cigar, I found the Epic cross into full-bodied territory. Throughout the smoking experience of the Epic, the strength and body have a nice balance between them.
The Montecristo Epic 2007 solidifies the 2012 reniassance by Altadis in the cigar market place. As mentioned the Epic lives up to its billing as a “fuller” Montecristo experience. This cigar also delivers a highly complex flavor profile that makes for an enjoyable cigar experience. This cigar will be in the $12-$14 range (depending on where you live). While we don’t factor price into our assessments or ratings we mention this for informational purposes. This is certainly a cigar worthy of this higher price tag. Because it is a stronger smoke, this is a cigar I would steer more toward an experienced cigar enthusiast as opposed to a newer enthusiast. As for myself, this is not only a cigar I would smoke and purchase, but one I would consider picking up a box for.
Strength: Medium to Full (Full at end)
Body: Medium to Full (Full at end)
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Edwards Pipe and Tobacco in Englewood, Colorado.