In 1935, Alonso Menéndez created the Montecristo brand—that sound familiar? That’s how my review of the Montecristo 80 Aniversario started. Yes, this is a different cigar with a very familiar name.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of Montecristo and as such an anniversary cigar is being made; although, it’s not just one cigar. As I’ve previously explained:
Because of the embargo on Cuban goods in the U.S., there are two Montecristo brands; one is owned by Cubatabaco, the state-run cigar business in Cuba, while the other is sold only in the U.S., owned by Altadis U.S.A. As many know, Habanos S.A., the marketing and distribution part of Cubatabaco, is actually a joint venture partially owned by Imperial Tobacco, the parent of Altadis U.S.A.
Habanos S.A. introduced its anniversary cigar in February at the Festival del Habano XVII, the largest Cuban cigar event annually; Altadis U.S.A. showed off its at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, the largest non-Cuban cigar event in the world.
It’s known as the Montecristo 80th Anniversary and offered in a single 6 x 54 box-pressed belicoso size. While the blend uses an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, Altadis U.S.A. is making a much larger deal about one of the filler tobaccos: Pilotico. It’s a Cuban-seed Dominican-grown tobacco that hasn’t been grown because of disease.
Jose Mendez & CO., the noted tobacco growers, planted seeds brought over from Cuba by the farmer Pepe Mendez in the Navarette region of the Dominican Republic and that tobacco is being used in the cigar. Surrounding the Pilotico filler is Nicaraguan criollo ’98 and corojo ’99 and a 2010 Dominican olor binder from Villa González.
The Montecristo 80th Anniversary is limited to 3,000 boxes of 12 and 50 humidors of 80 with pricing set at $22 per cigar.
- Cigar Reviewed: Montecristo 80th Anniversary
- Country of Origin: Tabacalera de García
- Factory: Dominican Republic
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Binder: Dominican Olor (2010)
- Filler: Dominican Pilotico, Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 & Criollo ‘98
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Belicoso
- MSRP: $22 (Boxes of 12, $264)
- Release Date: Sept. 2, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: 3,000 Boxes of 12 Cigars & 50 Humidors of 80 Cigars (40,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
The wrappers have a great muddy color to them and a wonderful feel in the hand, but the first thing you notice is the box-press, or at least that’s what should be immediately apparent. You very well might notice the three bands used for the release, which is one too many in my book, particularly given each band’s size. Aroma off the Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper is like melted chocolate ice cream with a creamy sweet cocoa note. There’s sour leather, barnyard and earth surrounding it, helping to cut through the otherwise sweet smell. From the foot, I pick up what sells like the bottom of a Dr. Pepper can with a unique mixture of cola overwhelmed by artificial cherries. There’s some earthiness in there as well, but it’s minor. The cold draw is quite different with a big nuttiness, touch of twang and some cedar. The nuttiness is fairly smooth with no saltiness apparent and a semisweet flavor.
It’s a bit muted upon the start, but there’s an interesting mixture of roasted cedar, nuttiness and peach skin. I was hoping for a bit more given the cold draw, but in the end—as so many cigars do—the cold draw was far more interesting. The Montecristo 80th Anniversary eventually settles with cedar, earthiness and some whole grain bread as the core mixture with the Dr. Pepper-like sweetness underneath and some pepper on the back. The finish is short, but offers a different take with the earthy and bread flavors rearranging themselves. It’s not entirely apparent until a few puffs in, but the cigar is extremely mild strength-wise. The flavor is medium-plus and body is slightly above that, but there’s nearly no nicotine. Construction is phenomenal and the burn is good enough for me to make note of it in both samples I smoke.
The nuttiness take on a much larger part of the profile, although it’s still a somewhat generic mixture. This helps in smoothing out the Montecristo 80th as both the whole grain bread and pepper are gone. There’s still some bread flavors, but it’s on the finish and more of a French bread flavor than anything else. The finish is long, going well past the minute mark, and it offers some vegetal flavors at around that point. Otherwise, things are very much the same: it’s still quite mild, medium-plus in flavor and burning extremely well from a construction standpoint.
Things turn toasty for the final third of the Montecristo. There’s a generic toastiness, some burnt nuts and a slightly burnt cedar flavor. In addition, the finish turns meaty. Overall, it combines for a mixture that reminds me of a good smokehouse, which is perfectly fine. Construction remains phenomenal and despite going below the one-inch mark, the Montecristo 80th never gets warm. In addition, the strength stays well into the mild range, showing no desire to change.
- I could have done without the foot band. It’s not overwhelming—and compared to some others—this is almost conservative in regards to how much of the cigar was covered by paper. I do however wonder if the tobacco name is the best thing to put on there. If the retailer selling the cigars knows the backstory, great, but if not, it’s just going to add to confusion.
- My experience with cigars from Tabacalera de García in terms of construction has been mixed at best. The Montecristo 80th Anniversary was one of the best cigars I’ve smoked construction-wise. Draw was right in the middle, smoke production was ample—but not overwhelming—the burn was as even as it could be and the cigar stayed cool to the last half-inch. Bravo.
- Siegfied Mendez-Maruschke, one of the growers of the tobacco, talked about the tobacco used in this cigar during the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.https://vimeo.com/133990612
- This was the mildest cigar I’ve reviewed in some time.
- Altadis U.S.A. is expected to ship the cigar this month. As for when we see Habanos S.A.’s version, who knows.
- On that note, I doubt many would guess how much smaller of a release this is from Altadis U.S.A. compared to its Cuban counterpart. It’s less than 7 percent of the size of the Cuban release.
- I find it interesting that neither company went with a traditional layout for the main band.
- Smoking time was one hour and 35 minutes on average.
- Cigars for this review were given to halfwheel by Altadis U.S.A. at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
Don’t let the color of the wrapper fool you, this is a very mild cigar. I still wait for the day that Altadis U.S.A. really presents us with a much different cigar than its core profile flavor/strength-wise, but for now, I think they’ve done quite well—all things considered. This is a cigar that any smoker of Montecristo White could smoke, and one with a bit more nuance and a bit more character, Construction was superb, amongst the best of any cigar I’ve ever smoked. At $22, many—particularly those that smoke cigars other than mild or mild-medium cigars—are likely to want more. What Altadis U.S.A. produced makes a ton of sense given how it positions the Montecristo brand, both from a premium standpoint and from the brand’s milder profile. It’s my favorite Montecristo from Altadis U.S.A. to date, but I can’t see myself buying any in the future.