|Monte by Montecristo (Jacopa No. 2)|
As we have been discussing over the past two years, Altadis USA has working on making their existing lines more contemporary – not just in terms of the packaging, but also in terms of the blends. This has been seen across the company’s portfolio in terms of blends such as VegaFina, Saint Luis Rey, Trinidad, Romeo y Julieta, Te-Amo, H. Upmann, and Montecristo. While many can debate some of the brand delineations within the portfolio, the Montecristo is generally considered to be the premium brand within the line. Montecristo has already introduced several new cigars fitting this contemporary theme. The latest introduction is the new Monte by Montecristo line. This cigar was launched at the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show. Recently, I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the Monte. Overall, I have found this to be another solid entry into not only the Montecristo brand, but Altadis USA’s portfolio.
The Monte is positioned as a fuller offering in the Montecristo brand. The Montecristo New York Connoisseur Edition and Montecristo Epic Vintage 2007 are two examples of cigars that fall into this category. Last year these cigars finished as our #2 and #11 cigars of the year respectively.
The Monte is also meant to be a more affordable offering in the premium Montecristo line. The cigars in this line have an SRP between $8.95 and $9.50. While these are not in the “value price” range, it still is a lower price point by Montecristo standards.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Monte and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The Monte features a multi-national blend with tobaccos from three countries.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Dominican Olor/Vintage Nicaraguan Corojo (Double Binder)
Filler: Aged Dominican tobaccos
The Monte is being offered in three frontmarks.
Conde (w pig-tail): 5 1/2 x 48
Monte: 6 x 60
Jacopo No. 2 (Box Press Piramide): 6 1/8 x 54
|Monte by Montecristo (Conde)|
For this cigar experience, I went with the Jacapo No. 2 – the box-press piramide. The Monte’s Ecuadorian Habano is medium brown in color. The complexion of the wrapper is somewhat oily. The cigar was actually void in terms of any major visible wrapper seams and visible veins. The box press is well-packed.
There are two bands on the Monte. The primary band is the standard Montecristo brown and white label with the fleur-de-lis logo on the front. There is a second band that is black with gold trim. The name MONTE is in large red font with gold trim. Over the “T” and “E” is a a large gold fleur-de-lis. On the far left and right side of the band is a small Montecristo triangular logo with the name MONTE in red – both in landscape mode.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my smoking experience of the Monte Jacapo No. 2, I went with a straight cut into the tip of the pyramid. Once the tip was clipped off, I proceeded with the pre-light draw. The dry draw notes provided a mix of leather, citrus, cocoa, and some pepper. Overall I considered the pre-light draw to the Monte to be satisfactory. At this point, I was ready to light up this cigar and see what the smoking phase would deliver.
The Monte started off with some red pepper. This was soon joined by some notes of earth, cocoa, and a subtle citrus sweetness. By about the five percent point the earth and cocoa emerged as the primary flavors. The pepper was a close secondary note, and the citrus remained in the background. The red pepper could also be detected through the retro-hale. By the end of the first third, I also detected some caramel and grass in the background.
Later in the first the first third, the cocoa and earth remained primary. The pepper was still a close secondary note. The citrus notes were now more distant and were joined by some notes of caramel and grass.
Each time I smoked the Monte, the middle produced a what best resembled a cinnamon note. It was still more of a secondary flavor, but it was more prominent than the citrus or caramel. From smoke to smoke I had with the Monte, the amount of time the cinnamon lingered varied. In one case, it faded quickly, in another case, it remained for the full second third, and in a third case it faded somewhere in between.
By the last third, the flavor profile changed up slightly. The primary notes became more earthy. Meanwhile while the red pepper transitioned to an herbal spice quality (which could also be detected through the retro-hale) – and moved into the forefront. The cocoa notes significantly diminished and by the close of the smoking experience had dissipated. The final stages of the Monte had notes of earth and herbal spice – with a touch of the caramel sweetness. The resulting nub was cool in temperature and firm to the touch.
Burn and Draw
For a piramide-shaped vitola, I felt the Monte Jacapo No. 2 performed very well. While there was a slight jaggedness on the burn line, overall the burn line was still straight. I never felt this cigar was in danger of canoeing or tunneling. The resulting ash was firm with a nice white color. The burn rate and burn temperature of this cigar were ideal.
|Burn of the Monte by Montecristo Jacopo No. 2|
The draw was outstanding. One thing I liked about the Jacopo No. 2 vitola is that each time the tip never got overly soft while drawing this cigar. The cigar had a tiny touch of resistance on the draw – which is something I like.
Strength and Body
In terms of where the Monte compares with the strength and body of some recent Montecristo releases such as the Montecristo Epic or Montecristo New York, I would say it competes in the same arena. We can split hairs to determine which cigar is the fullest, but I’d say the Monte is right up there.
In other words, the Monte is going to have medium to full strength – pretty much on par of the range of the Epic and the Montecristo New York. As for the depth of the flavors, I’d say they start out medium to full and progress to full by the end of the cigar – similar again to the Epic and New York. In terms of strength versus body, I give a slight edge to the body.
Overall, I found the Monte to be a nice cigar. When comparing it against some of the other comparable Montecristos in the line such as the Montecristo New York and Epic, I do think it is a notch below those cigars. However, it does have a lower price point, and it is still not a bad cigar either. I do believe the Monte has some aging potential and there is some room for improvement over time. At first I did not find this to be an overly complex cigar, but over time I was able to pick up more nuances. The Monte is probably a cigar I’d still steer toward the experienced cigar enthusiast as opposed to a novice. Overall there were enough things going with this cigar that I’d probably still look at picking up a five pack and smoke these from time to time.
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full, Full (Last third)
Assessment 3.0 – The Fiver
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Union Cigar Company in Monroe, NC. Additional cigars were also provided by Altadis USA. The request was initiated by Altadis USA to myself (Cigar Coop) to provide feedback. Cigar Coop is appreciative for the samples, but in no way does this influence this write-up.