As has been mentioned many times on this website, anniversaries are oftentimes a big deal in the cigar industry; therefore, it hardly comes as a surprise when a new blend and/or line is announced to commemorate a specific occasion.
Thus was the case back in October 2020, when Altadis U.S.A. announced it would be releasing Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua to coincide with the 85th anniversary of the Montecristo brand. The new line includes four different vitolas, all of which are box-pressed and are being produced by someone who is well known to Altadis U.S.A.—namely Abdel Fernandez—after he had previously made a number of cigars for the company.
“To honor the age-old tradition of soft-pressing cigars, the Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua will be introduced as a soft-pressed series of four sizes,” said Rafael Nodal, head of product capability for Tabacalera USA, in a press release. “The cigar offers a luxury showcase from seed to smoke that combines classic craftsmanship and extra-aged estate tobaccos from Nicaragua’s best growing regions.”
Blend-wise, the Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua is a Nicaraguan puro made with tobacco grown on Fernandez’s farms. It is also being rolled at Fernandez’s San Lotano factory located in Ocotál, Nicaragua. Three of the four box-pressed vitolas in the line are packaged in 10-count boxes, while the 5 1/2 x 46 Demi is being sold in 20-count boxes.
- Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua Demi (5 1/2 x 46) — $10.40 (Box of 20, $208)
- Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua No. 2 (6 1/8 x 52) — $16.43 (Box of 10, $164.30)
- Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua Toro (6 x 54) — $15.95 (Box of 10, $159.50)
- Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua Churchill (7 x 52) — $17.50 (Box of 10, $175)
My colleague Charlie Minato explained the relationship between Altadis U.S.A. and Habanos S.A. vis-à-vis the Montecristo brand as follows:
Altadis U.S.A. owns the trademark for Montecristo in the U.S. Habanos S.A. sells the brand in all other markets. While both companies produced specifically branded 80th anniversary cigars, Habanos S.A. has announced a new Montecristo for 2020, but not one that specifically references the 85th anniversary.
- Cigar Reviewed: Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua No. 2
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: San Lotano Factory
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 1/8 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Belicoso
- MSRP: $16.43 (Box of 10, $164.30)
- Release Date: November 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua No. 2 is covered in a deep, dark brown wrapper that is extremely rough to the touch and also includes a number of major veins as well as plenty of oil. It is fairly hard when squeezed, but the soft box-press is a very nice visual touch. Aroma from the foot and wrapper is a combination of peanut shells, sweet earth, leather, barnyard, hay and oak, while the cold draw brings flavors of creamy oak, leather, earth, clay, espresso beans, almonds and a touch of floral sweetness.
I am taken aback by the first 10 puffs or so of the Montecristo 1935 Anniversary, as a punishing combination of aggressive black pepper on the retrohale and spice on my tongue almost blows my head off whenever I try to retrohale. Thankfully, both die down fairly quickly, leaving behind distinct flavors of freshly brewed black coffee and leather as the dominant combination, followed closely by notes of creamy oak, popcorn, earth, hay, cinnamon, and a very slight vegetal flavor bringing up the rear. I also pick up some very distinct caramel sweetness and black pepper on the retrohale as the first third burns down, the former seems to be increasing in strength while the latter continues to recede. In terms of construction, the draw is excellent after a simple Dickman cut and the burn line is almost perfectly straight so far, while the smoke production is off of-the-charts high. Strength-wise, the Montecristo 1935 shows its hand early on, easily hitting a point closer to medium than mild as the first third comes to an end.
The cinnamon note from the first third increases in strength a bit as the second third of the Montecristo 1935 begins and there are other major changes in the profile, specifically in the dominant flavors which now include a combination of oak and creamy leather. Secondary notes of espresso beans, hay, powdery cocoa nibs, buttered popcorn and baker’s spices flit in and out in various amounts. I notice a significant increase in the black pepper and caramel sweetness notes on the retrohale and both of are now strong enough to be major parts of the profile. The draw and burn continue to give me no issues whatsoever while the smoke production continues to pour off of the foot like a house on fire and the strength ramps up enough to hit a solid medium by the end of the second third and is still increasing.
Although the flavors of oak and creamy leather continue to dominate the profile of the Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua during the final third, there is even more cinnamon on the palate than ever before, and the retrohale features a bit more of both the caramel sweetness and black pepper compared to the second third. Additional flavors in the profile include vegetal, hay, gritty earth, espresso beans and sourdough bread, while the finish actually features a generic citrus note that comes and goes. Construction-wise, both the draw and burn finish with no issues, while the overall strength stalls out just below the full mark right before I put the nub down with about an inch remaining.
- The Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua line should not be confused with the Montecristo Linea 1935 from Habanos S.A. that debuted at the XIX Festival del Habano in February 2017, although both brands celebrate the first year in which Montecristo cigars were released.
- “Frontloaded” does not even begin to describe the first 10 or so puffs of this cigar. I am far from a wimp when it comes to retrohaling—in fact, I retrohale at least a bit on just about ever puff of every cigar I smoke—but this cigar had me rethinking that practice until it calmed down.
- While I did not notice it at first glance, the black section of the band actually features fleur-de-lis symbols that can only be seen in the right light.
- As mentioned above, AJ Fernandez has made a number of Montecristo releases for Altadis U.S.A. before, including the Montecristo Nicaragua Series and Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez.
- If the San Lotano factory sounds familiar to you, it may be due to the fact that most of Espinosa’s brands are currently made there.
- A not insignificant part of the final score on this release is due to the amazing construction, which gave me virtually no issues from the first puff to the last on two of the three samples, while the final cigar I smoked only needed to be touched up once in the final third.
- Altadis U.S.A. advertises on halfwheel.
- The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel. After we had purchased cigars, Altadis U.S.A. sent additional samples which weren’t used for this review.
- Final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 38 minutes.
- If you would like to purchase any of the Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua No. 2 cigars, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Corona Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigars and STOGIES World Class Cigars all have them in stock.
After almost getting my head blown off by the overwhelming combination of black pepper and spice in the first 10 puffs, the Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua No. 2 calms down nicely in the final two thirds which in turn allows some very enjoyable flavors to emerge, including freshly brewed black coffee, oak and cinnamon as well as a nicely integrated caramel sweetness. While the profile is almost too bold at certain points—which has the effect of reducing the balance in the blend enough to hurt its overall score—the overall construction was amazing for all three samples I smoked, with only one touchup needed in almost five total hours of smoking time. Due to the high price this will not a cigar from everyone, but if you are looking for a full strength, bold blend with some decent flavors that you literally don’t have to think about after the first light, you have found it.