As 2017 came to a close, Altadis U.S.A. announced a pair of projects in its Montecristo brand. One of the lines would be the Montecristo Ciudad de Musica, a cigar done in collaboration with Crowned Heads produced at Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s Tabacalera La Alianza. The second is a cigar done in conjunction with the Plasencias at their factory in Estelí, Nicaragua known as the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured. According to Altadis U.S.A., the differentiator about the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured is that it “cures each tobacco component of the cigar together within small pilones. The meticulous process unifies all the components, allowing the flavors of the cigar’s wrapper, binder and filler to marry into a harmonious profile.” Today, we explore the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured in the Toro size.
For many years Montecristo has been synonymous with Altadis U.S.A.’s famed Tabacalera de Garcia, but in recent years Altadis’ has been partnering with many other factories. In Nicaragua, they have partnered with both Tabacalera Fernandez (AJ Fernandez) and the Plasencias. Projects such as the Espada by Montecristo, Espada by Montecristo Estoque, and the Romeo 505 Nicaragua have come out of the Plasencia factory in Estelí.
The Montecristo Epic Craft Cured is the second line under Montecristo’s Epic sub-brand. The original Montecristo Epic was released back in 2011 and was produced at Tabacalera de Garcia. While the Epic Craft Cured is the second branded cigar under the Epic sub-brand, two common denominators are that both use a Vintage wrapper (the original Epic uses a Vintage 2007 Ecuadorian Habano wrapper while the Epic Craft Cured uses a 2006 Vintage Nicaraguan wrapper) and both are intended to deliver a Montecristo with deeper flavor.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured Toro and see what this cigar brings to the table.
In addition to coming out of Plasencia, the Espada, Estoque, and Romeo 505 are Nicaraguan puros. The Montecristo Epic Craft Cured is also a Nicaraguan puro. It is highlighted by a Nicaraguan Rosada Oscuro Vintage 2006 wrapper and tobaccos from the four main growing regions of Nicaragua (Estelí, Jalapa, Condega, and Ometepe).
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Rosado Oscuro Vintage 2006
Binder: Nicaraguan (Ometepe)
Filler: Nicaraguan (Estelí, Jalapa, Condega)
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Plasencia SA)
Currently, the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured is available in three sizes. Each is packaged in 10-count boxes.
Robusto: 5 x 52
Toro: 6 x 52
Belicoso: 6 1/8 x 52
The Nicaraguan wrapper of the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured Toro has a medium brown color with a reddish clay tint. There is some oil on the surface of the wrapper. While there were some prominently visible veins, I still found the surface to the wrapper to be relatively smooth. At the same time, the wrapper seams were not very noticeable.
There are two bands on the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured. The upper part of the primary band features a design that resembles a separate band. It features the signature fleur-de-lis in gold on a beige circular background surrounded by a brown ring. The text “MONTECRISTO” is in white font on the upper portion of the brown ring. Below the circular are the Montecristo initials – also in white font. The sides to the upper portion of the band have a brown background with red wavy-pinstripes and gold trim.
The lower part of the primary band has the look of a pseudo-secondary band. This upper portion of the band has a brown background. The text “EPIC” is prominent in large gold font. The lower portion has an antique white background with a torn look on the bottom edge with the text “CRAFT CURED” in red font.
There is also a band on the footer. It is antique white with gold trim at the bottom and a slightly torn look at the top. On the band is a red badge with a black fleur-de-lis on it. The text “CRAFT CURED 2006″ surrounds the fleur-de-lis on the badge. To the right of the badge is the text ‘2006 Nicaragua Rosado Oscuro” in a dull-gold cursive font.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
My experience with the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured Toro started with a straight cut to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, I proceeded with the pre-light draw. The cold draw of the cigar delivered a mix of cocoa powder, natural tobacco, and some subtle hints of citrus fruit. Overall, I considered the pre-light draw of this cigar to be satisfactory. At this point, I removed the footer band of the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured Toro, lit up the cigar and proceeded with the smoking phase.
The Montecristo Epic Craft Cured Toro started out with a mix of earth, mineral, and natural tobacco. Early on the natural tobacco and earth notes became primary with the mineral notes settling in the background. In addition, there were some notes of cedar and white pepper that surfaced on the tongue. There also was an additional layer of pepper on the retro-hale.
During the first third of the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured Toro, I found the bitter and sour components of the natural tobacco flavors to be more prominent. Toward the end of the first third, the earth notes receded into the background leaving the natural tobacco in the forefront. The second third saw the sweetness component of the natural tobacco emerge. This was more in the way of a citrus note. During this stage, the mineral notes dissipated.
By the last third, the earth and cedar notes emerged as the primary flavors. The natural tobacco notes receded into the background. There also was an increase in pepper during the last third. There definitely was more in the way of spice, but it never assaulted the palate. This is the way the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured Toro came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
The Montecristo Epic Craft Cured Toro maintained a straight burn path from start to finish. There was a slight amount of jaggedness on the burn line, but this was easily remedied with some touch-ups. The resulting ash had light gray color with some darker spots mixed in. This was an ash that was on the firmer side. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both were ideal.
The draw to the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured Toro performed had a touch of resistance to it. I found this to be ideal to my liking. While there was some minor resistance, I was still surprised there was an abundant layer of smoke produced by this cigar.
Strength and Body
While I assessed the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured Toro delivered richer flavor profile, I found this was a cigar that was fuller in flavor as opposed to fuller in strength and body. This was a cigar didn’t overpower with nicotine nor overpower with heavy flavor weight on the palate. The Epic Craft Cured Toro was a medium strength, medium-bodied cigar from start to finish. I found there was a slight spike in the intensity level of both strength and body during the last third, but both attributes still remained in the medium range of the spectrum.
In terms of strength versus body, I found the body had a slight edge throughout the smoking experience.
One thing that I could not assess about the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured Toro is the impact of the curing methods on this blend. In other words, I’d be curious to see how this blend would have smoked using a more traditional method. This isn’t meant to be a negative, but to point out I don’t have a baseline to go by. Overall, the Epic Craft Cured Toro is a nice cigar. I found the middle third of the cigar to be the best. My gut tells me that this is a cigar that, with some longer-term aging, could perform even better.
This is a cigar that I would recommend to a novice or experienced cigar enthusiast. At $15.75 per cigar, it is still a pricier proposition. – however, it’s one that I would buy and smoke again.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Earth, Cedar, White Pepper, Mineral
Complexity: Medium Plus
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy One
News: Altadis U.S.A. to Release Montecristo Epic Craft Cured
Source: Altadis U.S.A
Brand Reference: Montecristo
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted