Montecristo No. 2 – Cuban (Joint Review)
When most people think of Cuban cigars, they think of Montecristo. The name is definitely one of the most recognized worldwide by cigar smokers and non-smokers alike. The top selling cigar out of Cuba is also a Montecristo, the infamous No. 4. The Montecristo brand name actually comes from the book “The Count of Montecristo” by Alexandre Dumas. The original “Torcedores”, or “Cigar Makers”, who founded the Havana factory in 1935 loved the book and chose it as the name for this line of fine cigars.
Montecristo makes a wide variety of different cigars in a wide range of sizes from the tiny Joyita to the massive “A”. The Montecristo No. 2 is one of the original sizes which were limited to No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5. Next to the No. 4, the Montecristo No. 2 is one of the top sellers and a very recognizable vitola.
The date on the box for these cigars is March 2008, so at the time of smoking they had just passed their two year anniversary. I found age to make a big difference on these as the younger ones I’ve tried tended to have a bit of harshness to them. The extra age definitely added an element of smoothness to the profile and also allowed some of the other flavors I hadn’t detected in the younger cigar to shine through in the aged one. I am fully planning to keep a few of them aging in my humidor for a few more years.
One other thing to note about this particular vitola is that all the sticks I’ve seen are not the best looking when it comes to the wrapper and perfect cylindrical shape with the tapered head. A lot of them seem to have water spots, veins, crookedness, etc… But I have to say, aside from the odd draw problem (common for many Cubans), the cigars have all been exceptional and well worth trying.
(Tony) Daniel pretty much summed it up. This is a stick was actually sent to me by Daniel awhile back and he has been badgering me to add my portion of this joint review on for week, heck maybe even months (sorry Daniel) . I haven’t fallen in love with many of the cubans that I have had the luxury of smoking, and I really hope this one throws a few surprises my way. For something rated so highly amongst the Cigar Community, I am anxiously hoping this one does it for me. Since Daniel was kind enough to stick to my review format in the joint review we teamed up to bring you of Illusione’s ~88~ , I will return the favor and conform to his review style.
Cigar:Montecristo No. 2
Drink (Daniel): Grahams Late Bottled Vintage Tawny Port (2003 Bottle Year)
Drink (Tony):Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre
Vitola:Torpedo/Piramide (6.125 x 52)
Price: $30.00 in Canada, about $10 in Cuba
Burn Time: 1.5 hours
• A few bumps along the wrapper but no major veins
• Cleanly applied cap
• Light brown colored wrapper
• Tightly packed foot
• Evenly packed along the body with a perfect spring to it, some of them had small soft spots
• Nice oily wrapper with a tiny bit of bloom in some areas
• Slightly tight draw, I could cut more but it will likely open up later
• Draw opened up as predicted at the halfway point
• Almost box pressed body and foot
• Nice almost sticky triple cap
• The Wrapper is Slightly oily with a nice soft gleam
• Very tightly packed foot and body
• One large vein running 2/3 of the way through the body
• Very firm to the touch
• No softspots at all
• Color is a consistently milky brown
• A bit of cracking towards the end of the final third, probably due to my over humidification
• Toasting was nice and even with no dark spots
• A little wavy burn at the start, is slowly correcting itself
• Needing some extra attention to stay lit
• The wave stayed to the halfway mark but isn’t getting any worse
• After the ash fell at halfway the burn realigned and is razor sharp now
• Was burning fast for the first half, now it’s nice and slow with no extra attention needed
• Allowing me to slow down the draws and enjoy it a little more
• The quick burn at the start made this a shorter smoke than expected, definitely wish it would have lasted longer
• Lit up very easily with my triple flame torch
• Burn line went all sorts of crazy during the first third but evened out
• Very thin, sharp burn line
• It did tend to go off in its own little tangents here and there but always quickly corrected itself
• I was very surprised on just how extremely fast this cigar burned, not only in the first half but all the way through
• No need for touch-ups or relighting.
Smoke & Ash (Daniel):
• A little less smoke that I’d like at the start
• Resting smoke is quite abundant and smells great, toasted cedar and earthy tones
• Ash is a very light grey
• Ash is holding strong with no flakes or crookedness
• Ash held on for close to 2 inches
• No wind outside and the smoke is dancing in front of me, giving a nice aroma
• Amount of smoke was very full after the halfway point
Smoke and Ash (Tony):
• Decently big Draw, nothing to write home about, but nothing too tight
• Lots of cedar smelling stationary smoke with hints of spice
• Ash is light grey mixed with dark, almost black spots
• Ash is a bit flaky, but holds firm
• Very dry smoke, leaving my throat and mouth very dry. I may need a few drinks to finish this cigar up
• Ash held on for almost 2 inches before falling off.
Tasting Notes (Daniel):
• A light cedar and earthy aroma on the wrapper
• Stronger cedar aroma on the foot along with a light sweet spice, close to cinnamon-sugar
• Pre-light draw definitely has the cedar and the spice, but the sweetness isn’t there
• Initial draws were of smoky burning wood, more of that spice, along with some leather and earthy notes
• Retrohale is very mild with a smooth cedar finish
• Slight dryness on the back of the throat, Port is taking care of it!
• At the halfway mark, the leather has disappeared and is replaced with a black licorice flavor, smoky cedar and spice are still there
• Throughout the first half, the cigar was fairly mild and had a smooth creamy finish to it
• After the ash fell off near the halfway mark the licorice flavor really came out
• Still can’t quite pinpoint the exact spice but this cigar definitely has some complex flavors that I’m enjoying!
• Body started quickly ramping up to medium-full past the halfway mark
• Flavors are bursting out of this cigar now, super cedar, spice, earthiness, licorice and a great creamy finish
• Got some espresso notes making their way in during the last 1.5 inches or so
Tasting Notes (Tony):
• Very cedary aroma from wrapper
• Light cedary and more earthy aroma from the foot. Very Dirt and Grass smelling
• Very salty start from the wrapper
• Great cedar Aftertaste
• Very Earthy, with notes of hay and grass
• Spicy notes at the beginning with hints of Cinnamon that mellowed out very quickly
• Retrohale is very smooth and contains lots of cedar with a bit of fruit and earth tones
• Earth and hay flavors ramp up big time in the second half.
• The saltyness on the wrapper is now becoming sweet, making for an interesting changeup.
• Now the creamy, almost milked coffee flavors are coming into play during the last third
• Not a lot of body in this cigar. I did find a slight spike close to the end of the second third, but nothing stronger than medium.
• The final third did end up with quite a few unexpected flavors. Although finishing off a bit harsh there was a ton of cedar, spice, earth, cinnamon, coffee, fruit, and even an uproar of the saltyness that I encountered at the start of the smoke
Final Thoughts (Daniel):
I love this cigars attitude. It was all kind and friendly/mild at the start and then BANG! Flavor + body came out of nowhere and made this smoke even more amazing. The creaminess and espresso flavors at the end were almost like a heartfelt farewell. I did not want this cigar to end! Simple as that. If you have a chance to get some of these, they are definitely a must try. As with most Cubans, be prepared for some bad construction or draw on some of them. If you are buying singles, try to pick ones with no soft spots and a clean wrapper. The well balanced flavors and multiple dimensions while still staying true to typical Cuban cigars flavor were exceptional. I enjoyed every draw from this cigar and will definitely be seeking out more.
Final Thoughts (Tony):
This was classic cuban through and through. Mild body, with a ton of earthy flavors, and a crappy burn. If you are fond of earthy cigars, or cubans this is a great stick. Don’t let the burn mislead you. Almost every Cuban I have had to date carries similar characteristics in construction and burn. Its like a trade mark for them. This was a good stick, but it left me craving more. More body, and a longer burn. All together it only took me about an hour to tear through this one. One thing to keep in mind is I have not yet read Daniel’s review on this stick. Again, he’s been pestering me for weeks, if not months (Sorry again man) now to add my piece to this review and I really wanted to go in here with a completely biased approach. Hopefully our findings matchup.
For me, this Tawny port was an absolute perfect pairing. It would also go amazing well with a nice glass of wine or a smooth scotch/cognac. For non-alcoholic, I think a strong coffee such as a Cuban or Americano would go very well and match better than sweet tea or soda. This cigar definitely deserves a good pairing that allows the flavors from the cigar to really shine. Try not to overpower with something very strong or palate altering to truly enjoy this.
The Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre proved to be a charming mix and actually helped me battle my way through the random notes I picked up in this cigar. Raison D’Etreis a deep, mahogany Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins, and Belgian-style yeast. Not to mention it carries with it a nice 8.0% ABV tag. The sweetness gave a lucrative balance to the saltyness I picked up on an off from the Montecristo while the boldness and strength made up for the mild body of the cigar. I honestly think something even sweeter, such as cola, or sweet tea would be a perfect match.
On a side note (Tony): After adding my portion to this review I found it extremely interesting how different Daniel’s and my experience was. Although many aspects were similar, the flavors seemed to be on different spectrums. Maybe it was the saltyness that I kept picking up in this cigar that gave me a different perception of the cigar, or maybe Daniel purposely stored my cigar with his condements before sending. Whatever it was I love the fact that we had totally different experiences. It goes to show just how different my taste’s and his really are.
Daniel’s Side Note: After weeks of waiting I never thought we’d get this posted due to Tony the slacker! hehe. I did store this cigar with onions and sea salt, attempting my own infused cigar (just joking!) I think the pairings affect flavors as well but even considering that it seems we were fairly close on most things. What does everyone else think about the comparisons between the two?