When it comes to iconic brands in the cigar industry, Montecristo is one that stands near the top. Montecristo traces its roots back to 1935 when Alonso Menendez and Jose Manuel Pepe Garcia started a brand in Cuba inspired by the Alexandre Dumas novel, The Count of Montecristo. While the brand is still an iconic brand in Cuba, Altadis USA has also long marketed a non-Cuban version primarily for the U.S. market. For many years the Altadis’ version of the Montecristo line was produced in the Dominican Republic, but for the past 7 years, the company has been producing Nicaraguan-made Montecristos. The year 2020 marks the 85th anniversary of Montecristo and to commemorate the milestone, a new line paying homage to the year the brand was launched was created called the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua. As the name indicates, it is produced in Nicaragua and it was done in tandem with AJ Fernandez out of his San Lotano factory. Today we explore the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua in the Churchill size.
At Altadis and its parent company Tabacalera USA, there have been nine Montecristo branded releases out of Nicaragua since 2014. Two releases are distributed by Santa Clara and the remaining under Altadis USA. The Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua is distributed by Altadis USA.
- Espada by Montecristo (Plasencia SA)
- Espada by Montecristo Estoque (Plasencia SA)
- Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez(Tabacalera AJ Fernandez – Santa Clara release)
- Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez (Tabacalera AJ Fernandez)
- Montecristo Epic Craft Cured (Plasencia SA)
- Montecristo Nicaragua Series(Tabacalera AJ Fernandez)
- Montecristo Espada Oscuro (Plasencia SA)
- Montecristo Volume 1: 100 Days (Tabacalera AJ Fernandez – Santa Clara release)
- Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua (San Lotano)
Without further ado, let’s break down the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua Churchill and see what this cigar brings to the table
Blend and Origin
In addition to being produced in Nicaragua, the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua features 100% Nicaraguan tobaccos. The blend is described by Altadis USA as using aged tobaccos meant to pay homage to the original tobaccos used in the first Montecristo cigar. While the other AJ Fernandez produced Montecristo cigars have been produced at his Estelí factory (Tabacalera AJ Fernandez), the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua comes out of his San Lotano factory in Octatel, Nicaragua.
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: San Lotano
The Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua is offered in four sizes. Each is presented in ten-count boxes except for the Demi, which is presented in a 20-count box. Each of the four sizes was soft box-pressed. The format of the cigars is meant to pay homage to the tradition of soft-pressing cigars.
The Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua is also an ongoing regular production line.
Demi: 5 1/2 x 46
Toro: 6 x 54
No. 2: 6 1/8 x 52
Churchill: 7 x 52
The Nicaraguan wrapper of the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua Churchill had a chocolate brown color. The surface of the wrapper had a slight amount of mottling. There also was a very light coat of oil as well as a slight toothiness on the surface of the wrapper. The surface of the wrapper had some visible veins and visible wrapper seams. While the Churchill had a Cuban soft-press format, the cigar itself had more of a square press as opposed to a trunk press.
The band of the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua has a gold and black color. The upper part of the band is gold with black font. The center of the band features a gold fleur-de-lis surrounded by two black concentric circles. In between the circles is the text “MONTECRISTO NICARAGUA SERIES” arranged in a curved font. To the left and right of the circles is the text “MONTECRISTO” with black pinstripes above and below it. The lower part of the band is black with gold font and had a pseudo secondary band effect. On that portion of the band is the text “1935 ANNIVERSARY.” The bottom portion of the band has gold trim.
A straight cut was used to remove the cap of the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua Churchill. Once the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered earth notes as well as slight natural tobacco and cedar notes. Overall while these weren’t the flashiest pre-light draw notes, there was still enough going on to satisfy me with the pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to toast up the foot of the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua Churchill and see what the smoking phase would deliver.
The Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua Churchill opened up with a host of flavors including chocolate, coffee, natural tobacco, dried fruit, earth, and red pepper. Early on the chocolate, coffee, and natural tobacco notes were more dominant. The coffee and chocolate didn’t develop a “mocha fusion” and remained separate and distinct. Toward the latter part of the first third, the coffee notes took over as the primary note. Meanwhile, there was an additional layer of red pepper on the retro-hale.
The second third of the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua Churchill saw the coffee notes remain primary. The chocolate, natural tobacco, and dried fruit rounded out the flavor profile. There also were some earth notes that surfaced in the background. During this stage, there was an increase in the red pepper notes.
By the final third, the coffee notes remained in the forefront. While still in the background, the red pepper notes had an edge over the chocolate, natural tobacco, dried fruit, and earth notes. This is the way the cigar experience of the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua Churchill finished up. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
During the first half of the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua Churchill, the cigar had a burn that was on “cruise control” – requiring few touch-ups to maintain a straight burn path and straight burn line. As the cigar moved into the second half, more frequent touch-ups were required. The resulting ash was silver-gray. This was an ash that was on the firm side. Meanwhile, the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw to the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua Churchill performed very well. The cigar had a touch of resistance (which is something that I prefer) and wasn’t too open like a lot of box-pressed cigars can be. At the same time, this was a low-maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
Overall the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua Churchill delivered a medium strength, medium-bodied smoke from start to finish. There wasn’t a lot of variance in the intensity levels of the strength and body. At the same time, the strength and body of the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua Churchill balanced each other nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
AJ Fernandez and Rafael Nodal really deliver with the Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua Churchill. It’s a cigar that delivers a well-balanced flavor profile. While there are not a lot of major flavor transitions on this cigar, there are plenty of flavor nuances and that was enough to keep me interested from start to finish. Most importantly the flavors produced were quite enjoyable. In the end, the final product is one that is worthy of carrying the Montecristo name, and commemorating a major milestone like an 85th anniversary. This is a cigar I would recommend to any cigar enthusiast. As for myself, it’s a cigar I would smoke again. At $17.50, it’s not an inexpensive cigar – but the ten-count box makes this attractive for box-worthy consideration. Scoring at 91 points, this cigar exceeds the threshold for Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence.
Key Flavors: Coffee, Chocolate, Natural Tobacco, Earth, Fruit, Cedar, Red Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Complexity: Medium Plus
Finish: Very Good
Value: Box Worthy Consideration
*Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence*
News: Altadis USA to Introduce Montecristo 1935 Nicaragua
Source: Purchased and Altadis U.S.A.
Brand Reference: Montecristo
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop