Montecristo is a relatively young brand given it often is mentioned in the same breath as Romeo y Julieta, Partagás and H. Upmann. Amongst the seven “global” brands in the Habanos S.A. portfolio, Montecristo is the second youngest, with only Cohiba having a shorter existence. (Oddly one could argue that those are the two most popular brands in cigars today, but I digress.) At the 2009 IPCPR show, Altadis, owners of the domestic trademark to Montecristo, introduced the Montecristo 75th Aniversario line, honoring what was once known as the “diamond” anniversary for Alonso Menéndez’ brands.
- Name: Montecristo 75th Aniversario Lancero
- Vitola: Lancero
- Size: 7 1/2 x 40
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Nicaragua Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
- Country: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera de García
- MSRP: $15.00 (Boxes of 10, $150.00)
- Source: B&M ($17.50 with taxes)
- Time in Humidor: 10 Months
- Cut: Wolf V-Cutter
- Light: IM Corona Double Corona
- Beverage: Coke
- Smoking Time: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
This rendition of the Montecristo brand has only been in the U.S. since the early 1990s, so the seventy-five years was an obvious homage to the original founding of the brand by Menéndez when he bought the Particulares Factory in Havana. I’ve been told by my local Altadis rep that the75th Aniversario were limited in production, so once these run out, they are presumably out, allegedly. There were four packaging options: a special edition Montecristo Humidor that featured all five vitolas; the Montecristo 75th Aniversario Habano, a ten-count travel humidor that featured two samples of each vitola; a five-count travel humidor with one of each vitola; or a box of ten available for all five sizes. It’s a mix of Ecuadorian, Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos all assembled at Altadis’ Tabacalera de García in the southeastern portion of the Dominican Republic.
The Montecristo 75th Aniversario Lancero holds the traditional length; but adds an extra two RG, not a particularly odd characteristic. The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper is medium-dark with decent sheen. Sharp angular veins scatter throughout the cigar, not exactly what I would consider the greatest of images. Packing is tight, producing a great resistance. From the Ecuadorian tobacco it’s a mild leather and soft nuts. The foot is hay and nuts, still mild and straightforward.
I place the excuse for a pigtail in the center of my Wolf V-Cutter and cut. Aroma is medium, a bit better from the wrapper itself or the foot: nuts, fruitiness and touches of spice. The cold draw is tight with a mild-medium nuts and orange peel mixture. Lighting isn’t greeted with a tremendous amount of amount of anticipation given how things are going, but there is a nice walnut flavor that fills the air, perhaps a bit more than I expected. The Dominican Lancero begins with a hay and walnut mixture in the medium ranges that transitions into a cocoa bean nut before finishing with hay and a lengthy harsh pepper.
If only things could stay like that for the Montecristo, if only. After the first inch all traces of cocoa are gone. What’s left is a medium natural and sweet tobacco flavor and a touch of pepper, and that’s it. The Lancero gives a similar tobacco finish with a bit more noticeable harshness, building and lengthy. Draw is really tight, but not plugged. Average smoke production gives off a cedar note, like most parts of this cigar, fairly one dimensional.
Without fail, pretty soon into the second third the draw tools become necessary. I tried dryboxing the final of four 75th Aniversario Lanceros that I smoked, but it didn’t seem to help. Massive amounts of tar build-up cripple the delicate tobacco flavors that have perhaps taken on a nutty flavor, but not much else from their original selves. Finish remains the same with the harshness not changing at all from the beginning of the smoke. Three or four pokes usually did the trick, taking the draw to slightly tighter than medium, but still not with great smoke production. I found that in particular, you have to have patience with the draw tool on the Montecristo, otherwise the passages close quick. The medium grey ash occasionally hits the two inch mark, burning to a machine like precision, perhaps helped by the relights that occur thanks to the aforementioned draw issues.
The José Seijas creation adds some creaminess and a touch more spice, but it’s clear that the flavor profile really doesn’t change, it’s sweet tobacco with harshness. I can’t say the finish really ever changed from start to finish. Construction remains the only excitement, and by excitement, I mean trying to get the cigar to draw correctly. The final third is by no means the roller coaster that was the middle portion, but not everything is settled by the end.
For the Novice It’s a bit up the ladder compared to the Montecristo “White,” but this is no powerhouse. Medium in nicotine, mild-medium in body. Definitely smokeable, but I suggest a look at the next paragraph before you decide to buy one.
After smoking this cigar, I’m only left to wonder if the people responsible for choosing the blends (not just the blender) at Altadis smoke other cigars. I know that individuals like Pete Johnson of Tatuaje, Dion Giolito of Illusione, Jon Huber of Crowned Heads, Jonathan Drew of Drew Estate and José Blanco of La Aurora (amongst many others) all smoke cigars other than those they create, because they enjoy a good cigar. Yet, examples like this make me wonder if this is true with those at Altadis. When comparing this to other Montecristos made by Altadis, I guess the flavor is a bit more mature, although I’m unconvinced this is any better. When you compare this to other cigars? Truth be told, this is pretty bad, and that’s before the $15 price tag, which quite frankly makes this nothing short of an abomination within today’s cigar market. When I try to find a singular redeeming quality, I fail. I tried, but I fail to see how this cigar can seem appropriate in today’s market.
56. At some point it doesn’t matter what the score is, it’s just an awful cigar. We’ve reached that point.