The Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch II series is a limited release by Altadis U.S.A. that made its debut in 2016. The Grupo de Maestros team represents some of Altadis’ most skilled cigar makers and they have been involved with some high-profile Altadis releases. In 2015, there was a release called the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch. This was originally a blend that the Grupo de Maestros created for the members’ own private consumption and was later released to the general public. Since then, there have been two subsequent follow-ups to the series. Today, we turn our attention to the second installment of this series, the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch II in the Toro size.
Until Rafael Nodal joined the Altadis U.S.A. team in 2017, Altadis was a company that had not previously relied on a “face” for the brand. Altadis U.S.A.’s approach has been to let the brands in its portfolio speak for themselves. As a part of the story of the brands, the Grupo de Maestros works behind the scenes. Altadis U.S.A has touted this team an experienced group with more than 250 years combined experience. The company describes the group as follows:
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.
Some of the more prominent releases the Grupo de Maestros have been involved with include: Montecristo Epic, Montecristo Espada, Romeo by Romeo y Julieta, VegaFina Master 2012, and the Montecristo Private Batch series.
One common thread seen throughout the Private Batch series has been the cigars have been shipped to retailers in 100-count cedar trunks. Private Batch II also covered the trunk in Burlap.
Blend Profile and Vitolas Available
Private Batch II (2016)
The Private Batch II features an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper over a combination of Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos. The main release was a 6 x 50 Toro, but there also was a Churchill size offered at JR Cigar.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra Crop 2011
Binder: Nicaraguan Crop 2012
Filler: Dominican Piloto Crop 2009 and Nicaragua Crop 2011
Country of Origin: Not disclosed
Toro: 6 x 50 and Churchill: 7 x 52
Production Count: 250 Trunks of 100 Cigars (25,000 Cigars)
For completeness, we list the other installments of the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch Series:
Private Batch I (2015)
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
Toro: 6 x 54
Production Count: 250 Trunks of 100 Cigars (25,000 Cigars)
Private Batch III (2017)
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Dominican (Santo Domingo)
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan, Peruvian
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic (Tabacalera de Garcia)
Belicoso: 6 1/8 x 52
Production Count: 300 Trunks of 100 Cigars (30,000 Cigars)
The Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper of the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch II Toro had a medium brown color. On the surface was a light coating of oil on it. This was a smooth wrapper with any visible veins on the thin side and the wrapper seams barely visible.
The primary band of the Grupo de Maestros Private Batch II 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 an outer gold ring surrounding the white ring and text. The remainder of the band contains gold and white adornments.
There is a secondary band made of cloth and white in color. On the band is the text “PRIVATE BATCH II” in dark brown font. To the left of the text is a dark brown star. Below the text is the “55/250” in red font. This indicates that the cigars I smoked were from box #55 of the 250 box allocation.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch II Toro, I used a straight cut to remove the cap. Once the cap was clipped, I moved on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw delivered notes of dusty earth, wood, and a rich natural tobacco note with a nice sweetness to it. I found this cigar delivered an excellent pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to light up the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch II Toro and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
Out of the gate with the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch II Toro, I was treated to more of the sweet natural tobacco notes. There also were notes of earth, red pepper, and citrus. On the retro-hale, I noticed an additional layer of red pepper.
Throughout the first third, the natural tobacco notes got richer – emphasizing the tobacco flavor. As the Private Batch II Toro moved into the second third, the sweetness component started to diminish. There also was a slight increase in the red pepper.
By the midway point, the natural tobacco notes remained in the forefront. The red pepper, citrus, and earth remained in the background. The background notes were complementing the sweetness and spice. By this point, the sweetness was coming from the citrus component. For the most part, I didn’t detect much change in the profile. At the same time, the flavor profile had settled into a nice combination of flavors.
When the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch II Toro came to a close, the cigar remained flavorful to the end. There was no harshness. The cigar finished with a slight soft nub that was cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Overall, the Private Batch II Toro had a low maintenance burn. There was some jaggedness on the burn line, but for the most part, the burn path remained straight and the cigar didn’t require an excessive amount of touch-ups. The ash had a silvery gray color to it. It wasn’t the firmest ash, but it wasn’t a loose nor flaky ash. The cigar also had an ideal burn rate and burn temperature.
The draw to the Private Batch II Toro had the right balance of resistance and openness to it. Like the burn, it was low maintenance making it easy to derive flavors. There also was a nice layer of smoke produced from this cigar.
Strength and Body
The Private Batch II Toro delivered a profile that was medium in strength and medium in body from start to finish. I found the intensity levels pretty much stayed constant throughout the smoking experience. I also found the strength and body balanced each other very nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
While I didn’t find the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch II Toro to be the most complex of cigars, I did find it delivered excellent flavor. It’s not a cigar that is going to deliver radically unique flavor notes, but the flavors delivered were quite good. This cigar had a nice tobacco taste from start to finish and the flavors were very well-balanced. The medium strength and body of this cigar provided the right intensity level for these flavors. This is a cigar that is ideal for either the novice or experienced cigar enthusiast. It’s a cigar I’d smoke again, but at $15.00 a pop and because the cigar is sold in 100-count trunks, it’s not one I’d really consider for a box purchase. However, it is one worth picking up more than one.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Earth, Red Pepper, Citrus
Burn: Very Good
Complexity: Low to Medium
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy Multiples
News: Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch III Unveiled at 2017 IPCPR
Brand Reference: Montecristo
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where otherwise noted