|Montecristo Epic No. 2|
Prior to the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show, Altadis launched a new blend in the Montecristo family called the Montecristo Epic Vintage 2007. At the trade show, a special limited edition version of the Montecristo Epic was announced called the Montecristo Epic No. 2. The No. 2 vitola is a pyramid shaped torpedo that has been made famous in the Cuban and Non-Cuban Montecristo lines. For the Montecristo Epic No.2, in addition to introducing a new shape, it also brings a slightly modified blend to the line. I recently had an opportunity to smoke a pre-release sample of this release. While I’ve never been a huge fan of the shape of the No. 2 vitola shape, I found the Montecristo Epic No. 2 to be an outstanding cigar and one that works extremely well in that shape.
The launch of the original Montecristo Epic Vintage 2007 series introduced a fuller strength, fuller bodied Montecristo to the brand. A skilled team is called “Grupos de Maestros” is involved in the production of the Montecristo Epic Vintage 2007. There has been an underlying theme with Altadis in 2012 and that has been to reconnect with their consumer base (who have been embracing boutique cigars) by reinvigorating their existing brands. The Montecristo brand has been at the center of this strategy.
The Montecristo Epic No. 2 is being positioned as a limited edition cigar. According to an interview with Altadis’ Janelle Rosenfeld on the 8/4/12 Cigar Dave Show, she indicated that this would be a one time release and once supplies are gone, they are gone. Rosenfeld also indicated there could be more limited editions coming down the road.
Let’s take a closer look at the Montecristo Epic No. 2 and see what this cigar brings to the table. Since we are basing this analysis on a pre-release sample, we will default to a pre-review. A pre-review will allow us to share some thoughts and perspectives. When the final cigars make to retailers, we will revisit this cigar and provide an assessment rating and score at that time. Finally, this cigar analysis is based on a single cigar smoking experience.
The Montecristo Epic No. 2 will have the same tobacco composition as the Montecristo Epic line, but (as mentioned at the start) the blend itself is slightly tweaked. All tobaccos will be from a 2007 vintage crop.
Wrapper: Select Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Special Selection of Vintage Nicaraguan and Dominican Tobaccos
No. 2: 6 x 50 (Pyramid)
For completeness, here are the core Montecristo Epic vitolas:
Churchill: 7 x 56
Toro: 6 x 52
Robusto: 5 x 52
|Montecristo Epic Vintage 2007 Core Line – Robusto|
This particular sample of the Montecristo Epic No. 2 seemed a little darker than the core line Montecristo Epic. While the core line had a dark caramel color, the Epic No. 2 had more of a chocolate colored wrapper. Color variations of wrappers is not uncommon, so this is no surprise. While there was a variance in color, the texture of the wrappers between the No. 2 and core line seemed consistent. Both the No. 2 and core line had an oily complexion.
|Montecristo Epic No. 2 with secondary band
(Photo courtesy of Outland Cigars)
|Montecristo Epic No. 2 packaging
(Photo courtesy of Outland Cigars)
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my smoke of the Montecristo Epic No. 2, I went with a straight cut through the tip of the vitola. It was then time to begin the pre-light draw. When I smoked the core line Montecristo Epic, I had a little difficulty drawing flavor analogies to the notes of the pre-light draw. I still had some difficulty with the Epic No. 2, but it wasn’t quite as hard. The dry draw notes yielded notes of chocolate, pepper, and some mild cherry sweetness. Overall I considered this an enjoyable pre-light draw. At this time, it was time to toast the foot of the Epic No. 2 and see what the smoking experience would bring to the table.
Overall there were some parallels to the flavor profile between the core line Montecristo Epic and Montecristo Epic No. 2. At the same time, I believe there are enough differences that can validate this is definitely a tweaked blend.
The start to the Montecristo Epic No. 2 was similar to the core line Epic in that there was a blast of pepper to start. The pepper seemed to subside quicker with the Epic No. 2. Once the pepper subsided into the background, there was an emergence of coffee, grass, and earth notes. By the five percent point, the earth and grass notes were primary while the pepper and coffee notes became secondary.
Toward the end of the first third, the coffee notes morphed into more of a classic chocolate flavor. These flavors moved into the forefront and were joined by some nut flavors. The grass and earth notes diminished and moved into the background with the pepper notes. These background flavors complemented the sweetness up front very nicely. As the Epic No. 2 progressed into the second third, some cream notes joined the chocolate and nut in the forefront.
As the smoking experience moved into the second half, the pepper notes moved back into the forefront. In the last third, the earth flavors would replace the chocolate sweetness in the forefront. The cigar experience would close with a peppery and earthy flavor. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
If you have read many of my assessments, you know when it comes to burn and draw, I often feel the torpedo/belicoso shape usually is inferior to a classic parejo. At the same time, I give every cigar a clean slate when assessing these attributes.
In the case of the burn, I found the Montecristo Epic No. 2 to score quite well. The burn line was very sharp from start to finish – requiring minimal touch-ups. The resulting ash was solid and white in color. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
In terms of the draw, I thought it was pretty good for a pyramid-shaped vitola. From a personal standpoint, I still preferred the classic parejo shapes of the core line Epic. However, there isn’t anything wrong with this draw and it still scores relatively well. I imagine if you like torpedo, belicoso, and perfecto draws, you will like the draw of the Epic No. 2.
Strength and Body
In terms of strength and body, the core line Montecristo Epic cigars started out as a medium to full strength/medium to full-bodied smoke that progresses to a full strength/full-bodied smoke at the end. In terms of the Epic No. 2, I didn’t see too much of a difference with these attributes. Specifically with the Epic No. 2, the transition from medium to full strength/body to full strength/body occurs by the beginning of the final third.
Like the core line Montecristo Epic, the Epic No. 2 does a very nice job at balancing the strength and body. Neither attribute has a significant edge over the other – making for a good equilibrium between these attributes.
Back when I assessed the Montecristo Epic Vintage 2007, I wrote:
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.
I subscribe to the same theory for the Epic No. 2. In a lot of ways, I felt the flavors were more developed with the Epic No. 2. 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, while I still would have loved this tweaked blend in a parejo, the No. 2 vitola is one I would not hesitate to pick up again.