|Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch by Altadis USA|
The Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch is a new limited edition cigar that has recently been introduced by Altadis USA. The cigar is meant to pay homage to Altadis’ famed Grupo de Maestros team. If one looks at Altadis USA, they are a company that doesn’t have a famed cigar personality. For the most part Altadis has let their famous brands take center stage over any individual personalities. However, the closest thing Altadis has had to starpower since the departure of Jose Seijas has been its Grupo de Maestros team. In a nutshell, the Grupo de Maestros team represents some of Altadis’ most skilled cigar makers and they have been involved on some high profile Altadis releases. The Grupo de Maestros Private Batch is said to have started out as a private blend smoked among the team, but now has been made as a limited edition release under the Montecristo blend. The Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch represents the first time Altadis has used the group’s name on a release. Over the past few years, I’ve found the Montecristo brand to be the strongest one in Altadis’ portfolio. I have recently had an opportunity to smoke the Grupo de Maestros Private Batch. While I wouldn’t say its the best Montecristo released under this brand, it’s still a nice cigar.
Altadis USA describes the Grupo de Maestros as:
Alone, the cigar experience of each member is impressive. Combined, their experience is unparalleled. The group draws from their different individual backgrounds and preferences but is united by one goal: to create the world’s best premium cigars. While each member has the talent to blend their own cigars, this unique structure makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
According to Altadis, there are six members that make up the team. The team is headed by Tabacalera de Garcia Factory Manager Javier Elmudesi. The years experience for each member is listed. Altadis promotes the level of experience of this team and the number of years each member has been with the factory is listed below.
- Javier Elmudesi (16 Years)
- Victor Avila (39 Years)
- Carlos Travieso (38 Years)
- Nestor Rodriguez (34 Years)
- Candido Rosario (22 Years)
- Pedro Ventura (15 Years)
Without further ado, let’s break down the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The Grupo de Maestros Private Batch is highlighted by the cigar’s Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra (2010 Oliva Los Rios Crop)
Binder: Dominican Olor 2010 (Villa Gonzalez Crop)
Filler: Criollo ’98 and Corojo ’99
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
The Grupo de Maestros Private Batch is being made in one size – a 6 x 54 Toro with a price point around $15.00.
As mentioned the 250 100 count boxes will be produced. The boxes are trunk boxes made from the original cedar boxes where the cigars have been aging. Each box stores five rows of twenty cigars. The box itself has a natural weathering effect to it. The boxes will also be individually numbered and come with a certificate of authenticity.
The Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper of the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch has a rich chocolate brown color. The surface of the wrapper has an oily complexion. While there are some visible wrapper seams and visible veins, I’d consider the cigar to be on the smooth side.
The primary band of the Grupo de Maestros Private Batch consists of the classic Montecristo brown band. On this band is a gold fleur-de-lis surrounded by a white ring. Above the white ring is the text “MONTECRISTO” in white text. There is a outer gold ring surrounded the white ring and text. The remainder of the band contains gold and white adornments.
There is a secondary band that has the appearance of a simple factory band. It is a white paper band with the text “CAJA” (Spanish for “box”) in black font. To the right is the text “22/250” in red font. This corresponds to the fact that the cigars I smoked were from box #22 of the 250 box allocation.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
As I typically do, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap of my Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch. Once the cap was removed, I moved on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw provided some notes of earth and light spice. There was a slight sour note that I picked up each time. While this didn’t prove to be a problem during the smoking experience, I thought the sour note did make the pre-light experience somewhat disappointing. However since pre-light draw is not scored, this does not impact the assessment rating and numerical score. At this point I was ready to light up the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
The Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch started with a small blast of white pepper. As the pepper subsided, some notes of cocoa and earth emerged. The cocoa and earth notes became primary. The pepper notes moved into the background and were joined by notes of orang e peel. The retro-hale produced a mix of white and black pepper through the nasal passages.
During the second third, I found the earth notes became primary. The cocoa notes floated between the forefront and background. The pepper remained secondary and the orange peel seemed more distant.
The last third remained similar to the second third, but I found the pepper made its way closer to the forefront while the cocoa remained in the background. Most of the orange peel notes had dissipated. As the Grupo de Maestros Private Batch came to a close, I found a soft and slightly warm nub. This did result in some harshness toward the end of the cigar.
Burn and Draw
Overall I found the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch to perform very well for most of the cigar experience. The burn line remained mostly straight from start to finish – requiring minimal touch-ups. The ash was a darker gray early on, but got whiter as the cigar experience progressed. The ash was not overly tight, but I wouldn’t consider it loose either. The ash still came off the cigar in nice clean chunks. The burn rate was ideal. While the burn temperature was ideal for most of the cigar experience, I found in the last third the burn temperature did get a little warmer.
|Burn of the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros|
The draw performed very well. I didn’t find it too tight, not did I find it too loose. Overall it was an easy cigar to derive flavors from.
Strength and Body
In terms of strength, I found the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch to start out in the medium range. The cigar did increase in strength and before the end of the first third, the strength level moved into the medium to full range. Meanwhile the body started out medium as well and pretty much kept pace with the strength – progressing to medium to full-bodied in the second third. Overall I found the strength and body balanced each other nicely
As I mentioned, the Grupo de Maestros is the the closest thing Altadis USA has to a true “cigar personality”. I really like how Altadis has been promoting “group” over individuals and giving this group some homage for all of the years of service here. That being said, I liked the flavors the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch produced. I’m not ready to put it up there with a Montecristo New York, Montecristo Espada, or Monte – but I still think it’s a pretty good cigar The one negative is that this cigar did burn warmer toward the end. However, the pluses outweighed the minus here. While it is a pricier cigar ($15.00), this is still a cigar I’d recommend trying – especially a more experienced and (non Habanos) Montecristo fan. As for myself, given this is a limited cigar and it’s one I’d certainly pick up a fiver of.
Strength: Medium (1st third), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Body: Medium (1st third), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Assessment: 3.0 – The Fiver
News: Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch by Altadis USA
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