For as much as Cuba’s Habanos S.A. would like to be isolated from all non-Cuban cigar companies—and in many, if not most ways it is—one obvious trend that has gone from non-Cuban cigars to Habanos S.A.’s portfolio is large ring gauge cigars.
While Habanos S.A. has so far stayed away from anything above a 60 ring gauge—and the only 60 ring gauge cigar so far is not likely one you’ve ever seen—there’s been a plethora of 55-58 ring gauge parejos introduced over the last handful of years, all while the company has reduced the number of smaller ring gauge cigars.
In 2019, Habanos S.A. announced the Montecristo Supremos, an Edición Limitada release that is also amongst the thickest ring gauge Cuban Montecristos ever made in a non-parejo size. It measures 5 1/8 inches (130mm) x 55, a size known as the Montesco and which debuted in 2010 with the Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills. There have been a variety of other 55 ring gauge Montecristos—like the 80 Aniversario, 520 and Maravillas—and thicker sizes in perfecto and pirámides shapes.
It’s part of Habanos S.A.’s annual Edición Limitada series, which I’ve described before:
While certainly priced at a premium, it’s not remotely close to the level of the Reserva or Gran Reservas. Furthermore, the cigars are produced in much greater quantity, making them much more readily available. Officially, the Edición Limitada sees Habanos S.A. produce non-regular production sizes of a particular marca with all tobacco aged for a minimum of two years.
What’s unique about the Edición Limitadas as compared to the aforementioned Reservas or red-banded Edición Regionals is that all Habanos brands seem eligible for the program. Local brands (Ramón Allones), multi-local brands (Punch), global brands (Cohiba) and niche brands, like Trinidad, have all been part of the program.
Edición Limitadas are made using tobacco that has been aged for at least two years and in general, there are three released per year.
For 2019, the three releases were:
- Montecristo Supremos (5 1/8 x 55)
- Quai d’Orsay Senadores (6 3/16 x 48)
- Ramón Allones Allones No. 2 (5 1/2 x 52)
The Supremos was the first of the 2019 trio to arrive on shelves. As far as I can tell, it didn’t show up until early 2020 when it arrived in Italy.
- Cigar Reviewed: Montecristo Supremos Edición Limitada 2019
- Country of Origin: Cuba
- Factory: Undisclosed
- Wrapper: Cuba
- Binder: Cuba
- Filler: Cuba
- Length: 5 1/8 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 55
- Vitola: Robusto Extra
- Est. Price: $22 (Box of 25, $550)
- Release Date: January 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: Undiscloed
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
As is often the case with Edición Limitadas, the wrapper is quite dark. It’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibilities for a regular Montecristo, but the box we got is on the darker end of what I’d expect from the brand. Unfortunately, its also not the prettiest wrapper, with plenty of gnarly veins and overall roughness that isn’t what you would expect from most cigars at this price point. The aroma from the wrapper is medium-plus with leather, a foul barnyard sensation, and faint hints of sweetness. The foot is stronger with chocolate, beef fat, artificial cinnamon flavoring, creaminess and some spice. Each cigar has a tight cold draw that provides a classic Cuban twang on top of some tangerine, sweet chocolate and a tart flavor that I can’t fully identify.
The Montecristo Supremos begins with a flavor that isn’t particularly pleasant. There’s some nuttiness, sourness, a petroleum-like sensation, and some bitterness. It sort of reminds me of what happens when I confuse baking powder with baking soda—some of it makes sense, but some of the profile is very off. On one hand, the cigar changes after 10 minutes or so; on the other hand, I’m not sure it gets that much better. Meatiness is the dominant flavor over nuttiness, white pepper and some floral flavors. If that was it, things would be fine. Unfortunately, it’s quite bitter and there’s a harshness that sits at the end of each puff. Once the smoke has left my mouth, the finish shows a bit more floral flavors and something that seems like garlic powder, though the trio of meatiness, nuttiness and leather is stronger. At the very end of the finish, the nuttiness morphs into a more defined peanut flavor, but I’m not sure how relevant that actually is. Retrohaling produces even more meatiness, and unfortunately, even more bitterness. That meaty flavor is a bit gamier than the initial puffs, but it’s all sort of secondary to the bitterness. The gamey meat flavor continues into the finish of the retrohale, though I also get more sweetness. On one cigar, it’s a very peculiar grape soda flavor, but otherwise, it seems more generic. The flavor is medium-full, body is medium-full and strength is medium. Construction-wise, things are a mess. All three cigars have tight draws, though one is substantially worse than the other two. None are plugged, but when I look at the cigars, it looks like the filler is arranged into a half dozen or so tightly bound groups instead of the more sporadic seams that I normally see. That’s not to say there aren’t seams—there are plenty—but there are much more defined groups than normal. That doesn’t help the burn, which is an outright mess and needs multiple touch-ups to help it burn down as the first third progresses.
A vibrant nuttiness takes over as the main flavor, ahead of paprika, peanut butter, a touch of chocolate, and some lingering meaty flavors. The bitterness is still there and still a big part of the flavor, but either because it’s reduced or I’ve gotten more accustomed to it, it doesn’t seem to be wreaking as much havoc as before. The finish is a spicier version of the main flavor, though there’s no real pepper to identify. Retrohaling produces nuttiness over creaminess, sourness and cinnamon. Fortunately, the bitterness is greatly reduced here—particularly compared to the retrohales of the first third—but the Montecristo Supremos is still not all that pleasant. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium. If the cigars you are smoking are anything like the ones I am smoking, I’m guessing you have either attempted to help things with a draw tool or are probably done smoking. It’s not plugged, it’s not wet, it’s just a mess. The draw is bad, the burn is worse, though the smoke production is fine as long as the entire cigar is lit, which is a struggle.
Much like how harshness accented the entire profile in the first third, the final third of the Montecristo Supremos now has an underlying saltiness that seems to touch every part of the profile. I should be clear: that’s different than the bitterness, which was its own isolated flavor. Beyond that, there’s a muffin-like bread flavor, nuttiness, meatiness, green grapes and touches of sweet ketchup. I can feel some irritation on my cheeks, but I’m not able to pick up any pepper. The dryness—which had greatly dissipated from the first third—is a bit more prevalent on the finish. Some of that might be due to the chalkiness that dominates that part of the cigar, though there’s also some meatiness and herbal flavors. Retrohales have a meatiness that reminds me of a mustard-fried patty from In-N-Out: definitely meaty, but with some interesting acidity. There’s also nuttiness and some more of that herbal flavor. It finishes with liquid smoke, leather, earthiness, chalkiness and cinnamon. Construction remains a problem with the new problem of the smoke getting increasingly hotter, no doubt due to the poor draw.
- One of the best cigars I’ve ever smoked was a 57 ring gauge Montecristo.
- Habanos S.A. hasn’t announced the 2021 Edición Limitada releases yet. It’s unclear whether there will be three, something that is especially notable given that in 2020 the company opted to announce only one Edición Limitada, the Partagás Legado, which has not made it onto shelves.
- The packaging for this release is awesome. Obviously, it helps to have a classic brand like Montecristo but the simplicity is a sight to behold. The irregular shape of the box adds just enough dimension that avoids this from being outright boring.
- More so than most cigar boxes I see, the box that we got had wrapper colors that went from light to dark, left to right. I’m not sure many people would notice it, but up close it’s apparent that the minute differences in shade were ordered that way.
- Here’s a photo of what the Montecristo Supremos’ ash looks like.
- The above photo is of an Illusione Fume d’Amour. Many years ago, Illusione’s Dion Giolito told me that one of the things that he looks for in a cigar is for the ash to look like a stack of dimes. I’ve had plenty of cigars that have burned fine with ash that doesn’t have the dime-stacking, but the Montecristo looks like a papier-mâché project gone bad.
- And for those of you that are thinking, “well that just looks bad because the ash isn’t fully formed.” Please see the picture of the first third’s ash above.
- There are times in which the review schedule gives me consecutive great cigars, and then there are my last three reviews. None of them have had draws that are remotely close to what the standard for cigars in 2021 is.
- I suspect that if these cigars were rolled properly, I would probably enjoy it given some of the non-harsh and non-bitter flavors that it otherwise provided. That being said, I’m guessing that the draw isn’t going to remove all of those flavors and I suspect that this cigar will need a handful of years before it hits its peak.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel. We paid $705 for a box of 25. The box code is TUE JUN 20.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 10 minutes. I suspect without the draw issues, it would be about 30 minutes less.
I enjoyed the flavor the first two thirds that the cigar provided and I think with time, the flavors of the Montecristo Supremos will develop into something that is right in my wheelhouse. But the draw isn’t something that logically gets better with time and that’s a huge problem. I don’t know how anyone can rationally think after the three cigars I smoked there’s any case to be made that these problems will go away with however long you think Cubans need to sit before they reach their peak performance. That being said, I gave another cigar out of this box to a friend a few weeks ago and watched him smoke it and he seemed to enjoy the cigar. And if the cigars smoked for review didn’t have draw issues I very much believe I’d be telling you this is one of the examples of when Habanos S.A. put out a cigar that is rather enjoyable without tons of rest. Unfortunately, that’s entirely not the case.