As part of its new releases for 2015, Altadis U.S.A. is celebrating its farming operations in Connecticut with an extension to its well-known Montecristo White Series, a cigar called the Vintage Connecticut.
Altadis U.S.A. is the only cigar manufacturer with its own farms in Connecticut, a point it emphasized as part of the cigar’s announcement. The Gershel Farm in Somers, Conn. is home to huge spreads of shade-grown Connecticut tobacco, and the company also has a significant number of fields that produce Connecticut broadleaf. For this release, Altadis U.S.A. tapped into a supply of 2008 vintage shade grown Connecticut wrapper, while making some tweaks to the Montecristo White Series blend to create a unique cigar.
The first of a couple key differences between the regular Montecristo White and this Vintage Connecticut extension is the wrapper itself. It comes from the company’s farms in Connecticut, whereas the regular White Series comes from Ecuador. While the binders in both the regular Montecristo White and this release are Nicaraguan, this version adds Peruvian tobacco to the filler.
The cigar is being released in three sizes: No. 2 (6 x 50 belicoso, $12.50) No. 3 (5 1/2 x 44, $10.50) and Double Corona (6 1/4 x 50, $14.50). In addition, the boxes and cigars feature artwork depicting the tobacco fields and one of the company’s big red barns, a new presentation format for the well-known brand.
- Cigar Reviewed: Montecristo White Series Vintage Connecticut No. 3
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera de García
- Wrapper: Connecticut Shade Grown (2008)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua & Peru
- Size: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 44
- Vitola: Corona
- MSRP: $10.50 (Boxes of 20, $210)
- Release Date: August 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 4
I will unabashedly say that I love the entire presentation of the Vintage Connecticut, from the boxes to the sizable bands that cover nearly the entire cigar. While I generally like seeing as much wrapper as possible, I also really appreciate the artwork on the middle band, and that it takes me back to the Gershel farm. With the bottom two wrappers removed, the cigar presents a light, honey colored wrapper leaf, matted and very smooth with just a few small veins and clean roll lines. It’s generally rolled firm but not hard, though one sample was on the soft side, and shows no visual issues. As you might expect, the pre-light aroma is mild with a leading note of buttered white toast and a touch of maple sweetness. The cold draw is a bit inconsistent, ranging from a bit loose to a bit firm and shows that same buttery, almost oily texture, while the bread note is generally present but had a bit of variance among the samples.
Given the focus on the aged Connecticut shade grown wrapper and the blend of tobaccos used underneath, I’m not quite sure what to expect, but the Montecristo quickly sets the tone with a mild flavor and medium body smoke that shows an approachable, buttery note out of the gate with a bit more fullness in the first few puffs. Pepper is reserved for retrohales in the first inch, and there’s more than you might expect from this cigar. The cigar begins to pick up notes of popcorn and a touch of lattê, though the sweetness isn’t quite forthcoming, at least yet. While not a quick burning cigar, the burn line makes steady, even progress and ash that holds on very well.
While I’m hopeful that the Montecristo Vintage Connecticut will take my palate on some twists and turns, I’m not counting on it, as given the line’s heritage it’s not likely to dabble too much in the strength category. The first puffs of the second third stay largely the same course that was established in the first third, though I can detect a bit more pepper starting to enter the equation, as a retrohale suddenly becomes a bit fuller and more stimulating, and the palate picks up a bit more as well. The subtle sweetness has dropped off almost completely, and in its place comes a bit of the sourness that is often associated with USA-grown Connecticut shade wrappers, though age seems to have mellowed it out quite significantly, something that helps keep the cigar in near perfect balance. Just as another sizable clump of ash begins to break off in preparation for the final third, newfound pepper enters the equation and takes the Montecristo Vintage Connecticut in a new direction and to a new level of strength, upping it to a level I’m sure most people would call medium.
It’s a predominantly white pepper note that brings about the final third, though there seems to be just a touch of black pepper as well, a component that is geared more towards the nose than the palate. The cigar has performed flawlessly with the home stretch quickly approaching, something I note because of my concern over the wrappers holding together, in addition to wanting to heap some more praise on the burn line and combustion. In its final inch the cigar picks up just a bit of char as heat becomes a factor, though one that can be mitigated a bit by a slower burning rate. Assuming you can do that, the Montecristo White Series Vintage Connecticut can be smoked pretty far down without issue.
- I really think Altadis U.S.A. hit a home run with the packaging; it captured the essence of the farm beautifully and offered a unified presentation between both the Montecristo brand, the White Series, and this particular project. I’ve already got in on my nomination list for a packaging award.
- I usually drink club soda during my reviews to keep the palate clean and fairly neutral (Canada Dry, in this particular instance), but for some reason it just did not pair well with the first cigar smoked for this review.
- Even with the dry, Phoenix summer, I had no issues whatsoever with the wrappers holding together. I was expecting each one to burst open at some point, and not a single one did.
- Similarly, there’s a fair amount of glue used to secure the three bands, but not a single drop made it onto the wrapper as I was able to remove all the bands from all four cigars smoked for this review with no damage to the top leaf.
- There were a few cigar blogs who noted the increased use of Connecticut wrapper in new releases this year, but they often failed to distinguish between varietals and where it’s grown. The word Connecticut seems to get tossed around fairly loosely; just know that there are huge differences between USA-grown Connecticut and Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut, as well as sun grown and shade grown, which tend to be some of the more common varietals mentioned.
- Case in point: while the wrapper for the regular Montecristo White Series is an Ecuadorian Connecticut, the Montecristo Classic uses a Connecticut shade grown wrapper from the USA.
- The cigar that had the tightest draw was the one that scored the worst, something that may not come as a surprise, but I bring it up in case you happen to get one that is rolled a bit too tight. If you do, I’d really implore you to try another as the subtle flavors really stand out when the draw is a bit freer.
- Also, if you aren’t retrohaling while smoking this cigar, you are likely going to miss a good amount of what it has to offers.
- Brooks Whittington and I covered the Altadis U.S.A. booth during the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 25 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Altadis U.S.A.
There's no doubt that the Montecristo White Series Vintage Connecticut falls on the mild side, so let's just get that out of the way. Yet it's not a truly mild cigar thanks to a surprising amount of pepper that is picked up mainly through the nose in the first half before sharing the love with the palate in the second half. There are points where it lacks a dynamic flavor profile and complexity, something that is likely attributed to both the age of the wrapper and the overall blend, but there are subtleties in there just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. Much like any milder cigar, you could easily breeze right through this and call it bland, yet give it some attention and I think you'll find some very interesting and engaging flavors and aromas highlighted by a surprising amount of peppery strength that will keep you and your senses engaged.