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Montecristo Taste Test

Montecristo Edmundo
Reviewed by Stuart Dixon (December 2005)

Montecristo Edmundo Cigar Box of 10 Last June (2004), whilst working in York, I tracked down the local cigar emporium in the centre of town. This small and well-stocked tobacconist provided 30-minutes worth of "Ooohs" and "Ahhs" as I pressed my nose against the glass door of the walk-in humidor.

I decided immediately upon seeing them that one of the (then) newly-released Montecristo Edmundo's should grace my humidor with its presence, and so picked out the best example.

Substantial in girth, the cigar is dressed in a mid-brown, sheeny wrapper. Solid the entire length, there is a certain toothiness about it, veins evident from top to bottom, and it's double-capped.

It is excellently balanced and feels exceptional in the hand. On the nose, there is leather and fruit, and some pepper to the lips.

It is altogether a very good-looking cigar.

I did read that the cigar was a tad "green" back in the summer of 04 and that it required between 6 months and 3 years to age. I put this single onto the bottom shelf of the humidor and tried to forget about it. A year later, a trip to London with the Mrs, and a visit to Dick's Bar in the Atlantic Bar and Grill in Piccadilly in July (oh, yes, I am aware how this must look, but it was true!), seemed like the fitting occasion to smoke this majestic cigar.

In the art deco splendour, with a Havana Club on the table in front of me, I pulled it out and began the ritual. It took two matches to toast the foot, the girth being so substantial, but I was in no hurry. I then lit the cigar proper and noted the toasted woodiness that wafted into the room.

The opening draws were some of the very best I've had from any cigar. The pull was just excellent, producing bountiful amounts of thick aromatic smoke which were grandly exhaled towards the starry ceiling of the bar.

The flavours were light - sharp cedar and spices, peppery and crisp.

In the hand, the Edmundo feels just superb - significant, ample and generous all spring to mind - and it looks like a serious cigar. It is particularly imposing in its first inch or so, when it still has that square ash.

Strength-wise, it is a gentle-giant and certainly no cigar beginner should be put off by this one. I found it quite mild, perhaps entering the medium spectrum in its latter stages.

The burn was a little disappointing - it quickly became ragged and required correction - and the ash was initially good and square, but later coned, spoiling the "cut" of the cigar, but, these minor gripes aside, I enjoyed the smoke immensely.

Into the final third, the cigar began to go out. I re-lit it once, but some bitterness was evident and I finally dropped it in a Piccadilly gutter, a glamorous end for any Cuban cigar.

They are perhaps young and fresh still, but age can only add to their quality. This is - and will be - something a bit special.

I found this review to be much too wordy for my tastes. I understand that surroundings can play a big part of smoking a special cigar but I would have preferred to have heard more about the cigar and less about the author's surroundings. There was really only the one, one-sentence paragraph that described the actual flavours o! f the cigar. And while the Edmundo is a cigar that I would still like to try, this review did not increase my desire much.
Score: 7 out of 10 (Would have been a 6 if I didn't think the author was really trying.)
Judged by: ScottyJ

I like this review! It read like a story that drew the reader in. I liked the way he/she described the characteristics I want to know about, smoke volume and aroma, draw, weight, ash. Hints of "cherry" and "hickory bark" that are so prevalent in other reviews I can do without. I will try this cigar some day - because of this review.
Score: 9 out of 10
Reviewed by: Darry Rose

Written in more of a formal style, I liked the use of visual imagery but it did not enhance the description of the cigar and took focus away from the subject at hand. I did like description of the burn qualities of the cigar ..I could visualize exactly what was happening.
Score: 6 out of 10
Reviewed by: Chris Cacciotti


Montecristo Double Corona Le Maduro
Reviewed by John Drabinski

Montecristo Double Corona Le Maduro After my excellent, if a bit hesitant, experience with the Montecristo C Edicion Limtada, I decided to turn my attention to his big brother in the Montecristo Edicion Limitada line.

This Montecristo Double Corona Edicion Limitada was nearly perfect in terms of its presmoke and smoking aesthetics. Though just a bit bumpy in the body of the cigar, the wrapper was smooth, oily, and shiny, the cap and head perfectly symmetrical, and, when cut, the draw was absolutely perfect. When Cuba's farmers and rollers collaborated on this cigar, they set a high standard. No doubt. A couple of prelight draws already filled my mouth with sweet tobacco flavor, adding to my anticipation. It lit quickly, burned evenly from beginning to end (no small feat for a double corona), and had the most alluring off-cigar aroma I've ever smelled. The rich sweetness of the cedar filled my nose as I examined the burn and light gray ash, adding just that much more to the cigar. Whatever the flavors to come, I was already pleased with this cigar's performance.

The flavors followed suit.

Much of what I tasted in this double corona matched the flavor collage in the Montecristo C, with plenty of sweet tobacco, cedar, mild coffee notes, nuttiness, hints of vanilla and chocolate, mossy earthy flavors, and something like a cinnamony nutmeg (if that makes sense) clinging to the finish. But this was not the C, having sat for awhile longer (2001 EL release, of course) and showing some of the virtues of age.

This was a much more blended profile, with a subtlety of flavor and developing complexity missing in the C. In the C, there was a pronounced flintiness that accompanied all of the flavors as smoked, but that same flavor had mellowed quite a lot in the Double Corona, reminding me of the ceramic flavors found in a mild Central American coffee.

The flavor body of this double corona was exceptionally dynamic, starting off on the cool and mild side, with the sweet tobacco and cedar leading off. There was an airy quality to the first inch or two of this cigar, though it was alive with flavor. The cedar started with a spicy character, biting a bit into the palate, but very pleasant. This spicy moment in the smoke was fleeting, quickly moving to a smoother and more coherent body of flavors, starting with that 'very Montecristo' tobacco flavor paired with an utterly lovely earthiness. Both were bold in character, yet light in the mouth, leaving plenty of room for the more subtle bean flavors to manifest in hints. These hints grew in prominence as the cigar progressed, transforming the initially mild tobacco flavors into a solidly medium-bodied and complex interplay of bean flavors and tobacco, nicely underscored by the mossy earthiness. The more marginal flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg were more at home in the flavor body at the outset, and they receded nicely (and very gradually) into the finish as the cigar's flavors grew in boldness.

Interwoven with all of these flavors was that pleasant and dry ceramic character, inseparable in presentation from the light coffee and rather oily walnut flavors. I take this to be the maturation of the flinty tastes detected in the Montecristo C (assuming these have very similar blends, which it seems they do) and it confirms my suspicion that great things are on the horizon for that cigar. In the Double Corona, the maturity is there and it comes with a whole lot more complexity. The size of the double corona also lends itself to complex display, with cooler smoke and more time to develop (sales pitch for my favorite vitola).

The ability of this cigar to so gracefully transform itself from a mild smoke to a medium one is noteworthy in itself. However, due to the balance this cigar has already achieved, that very transformation was present throughout the smoke. At its boldest (i.e., in the final 1/3), the initial unfolding of flavors was oily, fairly intense, and complex, but that unfolding also slowly faded on the palate into the light and delicate flavors found in its first two inches. Medium to mild in the long effect of every draw. The cigar reminded the patient and slow smoker of its own history. In fact, it demanded that you take notice and smoke with deliberation. This is a contemplative cigar that rewards attentiveness.

This was my second of a dozen I have on hand. The first was smoked many months back, and already I can see (by comparing tasting notes) how much just this short aging has brought about balance. Already, this is one of the very best double coronas I've ever smoked (and I love double coronas!). I am struck by its maturity and utterly dynamic character. This smoke appealed to all of the palate, coating my mouth with flavors from beginning to end. Truly an example of why the double corona is a decadent vitola: two-plus hours of pleasure.

A little wordy, but very good comments and insightful analysis of this wonderful cigar
Score: 9/10
Judged by: Joe Mazloom

Well, apart from wondering if Dickens had written this one, there were so many adjectives in it I lost count, I really enjoyed reading it. It gave a good sense of what I could expect, when I would best smoke it (i.e. if it's mild/medium may be I wouldn't want it after a heavy red meat meal etc.) and that it exhibits a variety of splendid phases that would be thoroughly enjoyed over the 2 hours these beauties take to smoke. Quite long, but good
Score: 8/10
Reviewed by: Richard Whitwell

This review was difficult to read and way too flamboyant. I did not like the comparisons between the Double Corona and the C. Why would anyone compare a Volkswagen to a Mercedes? In addition, the author used superlatives incorrectly. I especially did not like the laundry list of tastes that he through out there. It was almost like he threw in the kitchen sink.
Score: 5/10
Judged by: Heike Billy


Montecristo Edicion Limitada
Reviewed by Roger Farnsworth (March 2004)

montecristo Edicion Limitada Robusto 2001 Darker than a murderer's heart, this cigar was so seductive with its luscious, practically flawless wrapper that I simply had to pluck it from the box. The smooth, maduro wrapper had virtually invisible veins, and the twin bands slid off smoothly revealing only one tiny imperfection in the wrapper - an oval wrinkle like a small puckered scar. The cap was perfect, and once clipped the cigar exhibited a pleasantly resistant draw.

Slow to toast and light, the smoke poured forth coating my mouth with a rich mixture of hazelnut and cream. Nutmeg and other delectable spices filled out the flavor profile, and the signature Habanos taste of fermented loam provided an earthy background. The finish was impressive, offering a lingering, slightly tart and nutty sensation with a hint of varnish. The cigar burned slowly and steadily lasting well over an hour. A nice light ash fell away after a couple of inches to reveal a slightly ragged tip, and the cigar was so oily I swear I could hear it quietly sizzle as I puffed.

I enjoyed this cigar while sipping a classic Havana Club Anejo ron over a few clear ice cubes with a twist around the rim and the pairing was perfect. Around the magical halfway mark there was in intense burst of cocoa and dark roasted coffee mixed with peppery spices that was amazing. This cigar was so good I wanted to chew on it. It was a solid stick with impressive heft, and produced a spicy aroma full of warmth, in a word, the swirling smoke felt comfortable. I've had few Cuban cigars that measured up to this: A well aged Partagas Presidente, a Cohiba Siglo IV, and a delightful Partagas Pyramide EL, but the smooth richness offered by this distinctively dark wrapper was unique.

Overall this was a truly epic cigar; a classic example of Cuban perfection, stout and robust. I covet the remainder of the box and will enjoy them on holidays and other special occasions for years to come. Run, don't walk to get your hands on some of these. Highly recommended.

Appearance: 9/10
Construction: 9/10
Flavor: 20/20
Finish: 10/10
Smoking experience: 19/20
Aroma: 10/10
Overall impression: 19/20

Total: 96/100

Never have I more wanted to try a cigar after a review than this one! Great notes given on the wrapper, ash, texture and the taste. We are given a short note on his surroundings, drink match-up, and his opinions on what it might compare to. the rest is a review so vived I can taste it here.
Score: 10/10
Reviewed by Michael L

A straight forward review, but I think the taster tried too hard to use verbiage, and missed out on telling me what the cigar was really like. Still there was enough teasing in the review to make me want to go out and try one for myself.
Score: 8/10
Reviewed by Scotto

Another beautiful overall review although I have never got a particular nut taste out of a Havana although I do recognise "nuttiness " in this cigar.
Score: 8.5/10


Montecristo No. 4
Reviewed by Don Ciambotti (February 2003)

Montecristo No. 4 Cigar box of 25I just smoked a Montecristo #4 from Feb. 03. First of all, I admit. I suck at reviews. But, if I was any good at reviews, I could say...

I went to the patio to watch the All-Star game. I poured a glass of wine, an Italian white. A pinot grigio from Mezza Corona to be exact. Then I could tell you about the wrapper. Shiny, oily, a nice reddish brown color. No veins. To the touch, somewhat springy. I punched the signature triple cap. I prefer to punch corona sizes. I get a better taste of the wrapper that way.

I could tell you about the aroma, which was rich, warm and pleasant. I could go on to tell you that the ash was flaky, kind of greyish black. Reminiscent of a piece of charred maple at the end of a campfire.

If I was any good at reviews, I'd tell you that the taste was very complex for such a young cigar. The first third had overtones of caramel with hints of vanilla. The second third changed to sweet cocoa, dark chocolate, and I swear I tasted hints of cinnamon. The last third - WOW- opened up into a very intense cedar taste with the unmistakable 'twang' that we all know.

Now, remember I suck at this...I'll could tell you about the smoke. Not hoards of smoke, but rather a rich, white-grey color. Burn, a slight canoe effect that rectified itself about an inch in then burned very straight.

If I'd done this before, I'd tell you that the strength was more medium than full. The flavor of this petite corona never exploded, but I didn't really expect it to. Give it a year or two and it will.

If I had done a review before, I'd explain that this young cocoon of the leaf will be fabulous in a year, and is very good right now. A sweet mix of flavors that I will have a hard time laying off of, even though I know that I will be rewarded handsomely if I do.

But, since I suck at review I'll just say this. Smoke 'em up boys... they're READY!!

A great review which I would agree with wholeheartedly...covered all the basic clearly strength,flavour,aroma and construction.Well written...humorous and concise -
Score: 9/10
Reviewed by Smokeymo

Wish Don had been more descriptive about the cigar since the Montecristo # 4 is one of my go to cigars. All I could remember is that he sucks at reviews. Possibly a tongue in cheek approach but I found it to be distracting.
Score: 4/10
Reviewed by Stephen Mazzuca

Yep, he sucks at writing cigar reviews.
Score: 4/10
Reviewed by Matt Rousey


Montecristo No. 4
Reviewed by Russell Jones (July 2003)

The cigar was part of a gift from my sister. I have been sort of waiting for a decent occasion to smoke one of these. This was to be my very first time with an ISOM and I wanted it to be perfect. Also, I have been a little concerned with some of the life-altering effects of the ISOMs I have read on this and other boards.

I decided my expectations were unrealistic and threw caution to the wind....The story begins with me on my back stoop on a gorgeous sunny evening around 7:15 pm EST. It was about 73 degrees and a slight breeze blowing almost perfect, but my chair was wet from morning rain so I was forced to stand. I also had a nice cup Kenyan coffee to compliment the cigar.......

The construction was very nice with a few veins, but what the hell do I know about that stuff....The cut, with a cheap-ass two-blade guillotine cutter, was without incident and the pre-light draw was very nice. There was an unfamiliar earthy/leathery taste mixed with a rush of anticipation to fire that baby up! The light went well and I was engulfed with a mountain of beautiful grey smoke.

There was a hint of woody-ness mixed with the leathery earth taste that was surprisingly appealing. As the first third began to melt way with a dark grey ash that refused to crack and fall, I noticed a blue jay dive-bombing my neighbours cats right in front of me, that was hilarious...but I digress... The first half ended with a shift in the taste to a more pepper and spicy taste with only a hint of the leathery-wood remaining.

The descriptions of these tastes always made me think it was not an appealing taste, but as usual I was dead wrong...There was a tremendous volume of smoke that never thought about being harsh, no matter how quickly I drew on that baby.

The spicy flavor began to over power the other flavors by the last two inches or so. I was very much pleased with the smoke to this point. i wish I had taken it a little easier earlier in the smoke as my head was beginning to spin slightly. I noticed the 'buzz' as I was searching for something to hold the cigars as my fingers were charred. I finally decided enough and let the last inch and a half die a quiet death by itself.

I thoroughly enjoyed me very first ISOM. I would rate this cigar itself around an 88. I rate the overall experience and the relaxation a 200. I shall surely have to try more ISOMs, but where does a guy start. I certainly would recommend this cigar to a newbie at ISOMs. It spun my head a little, but probably because I was too impatient with the last couple of inches. It was a medium bodied, full-flavored smoke IMHO. I shall be back with another review real soon.

This was a very nice review. There was a good description of flavors and character of the cigar, with a pleasant background of the cigar. Additional info (time, temp, conditions, etc) was a nice touch.
Score: 8.5/10
Judged by Frodo

ISOM is insulting to some, and the reviewer's repeated use of it, rather than "Cuban cigar" taints the entire review. Score: 4/10
Judged by Van55

I like that someone new to cubans comes right out and says it, and doesn't pretend to have experience with them that he doesn't have. As I look over the description, I find all of the information that I would look for, though it possibly could have been organized a bit better.
Score: 8/10
Judged by James R aka John Shaft


Montecristo No. 1
Reviewed by Bill Liberman

Montecristo No. 1 Cigar Box of 25 Appearance: This was a beautiful . 6 . 5 x 42 cigar with a perfectly flat front and back and ever so slightly rounded sides . The wrapper had some prominent veining but not so bad as to detract from the elegance of this cigar . It had a very nice sheen to it . I'm sure some time spent in the humidor would bring out a nice oiliness to the wrapper . I would categorize the color as a light shade of Colorado .

Construction: I have always heard that torpedo shaped cigars are the hardest to roll because you can't really use a mold on them . But to me, I would think the Lonsdale and Panetela sizes would be harder to roll due to their length and smaller ring gauge . As I said earlier, this cigar was beautifully done . It was very firm the entire length with absolutely no soft spots and a beautifully applied cap that cut perfectly .

Pre-light aroma: This was not like any Montecristo I've had before . This one had a light and sweet floral aroma where all the other Montecristos I've had, had that great "barnyard" aroma to them . Quite a pleasant change .

Draw: As with most Lonsdales that I've smoked, this one had a less than perfect draw that was just a little on the tight side . Even so, it gave an ample amount of smoke with each puff . Usually as a cigar warms up the draw will get looser . Not the case with this cigar as it smoked extremely cool down to the very end . And that was a nice change of pace . I enjoyed the coolness much more than having a cigar get too warm just to loosen up the draw . Another pleasant surprise .

Flavor: Just like the pre-light aroma, this cigar started off with a very light floral taste . A very clean and refined taste . This lasted for about the first 1/3 of the cigar . From there until the halfway point the taste became more complex with subtle tastes of leather and cocoa . Almost a semi-sweet chocolate flavor . From the halfway point to the last inch and a half, the flavors became very earthy and spicy . These are the flavors I so look forward to when smoking a cigar . After that point, the cigar started to turn a little sour . But that's about as far as I usually like to go with a cigar . So laying it down at that point was to be expected . And even at an inch and a half length, it never got hot . The nice thing about this cigar was that it was complex without being too complex . What I'm trying to say is, it was not like smoking a Montecristo #2 where the flavors change with almost every puff . Not that there is anything wrong with that . But it's nice to have a cigar like this that will consistently give you the flavors you are looking for.

Aroma: Again, as with the pre-light aroma, this cigar gave off a very pleasant, floral aroma . I never got that "what are you smoking" look that I sometimes get with other cigars . And that's always nice .

Ash: This cigar had the typical medium to dark gray ash that Cuban cigars have . A nice firm ash with no flaking that took a pretty good tap to knock off .

Finish: A surprisingly short finish for a Montecristo . A very pleasant taste that made me wish for more . And to me, that's better than not wanting more .

Final thoughts: I was totally impressed with this cigar . It burned perfectly straight so no touching up was required . The feel, aroma, flavors, ash, burn and finish were everything I look for in a cigar . The only minor flaw was the slightly tight draw but that was expected . If I were to rate this cigar on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, I would easily give these a 9 . 5 . I think I have found my favorite Montecristo vitola . Yes, even more than the Montecristo #2 .

Montecristo No. 4
Reviewed by Jody Brown (May 2003)

Prelight - nice chocolate brown smooth wrapper that had a semi-oily sheen and no veins. This beauty was perfectly constructed, just the right 'feel' and had an awesome smell!

First light - smacked me on the head with a total full flavor right from the get go and a perfect draw. Very interesting roasted nuts, roasted chocolate and the old blend isom earthy tastes.

First 1/4 - pure full flavor continues and a little more chocolate coffee and more tastes of several spices. Ash is still intact and all I see is black coal. First 1/2 - continues full flavor. The classic old isom blend really comes through on this one. I would call it muddy earthy taste. Also continues with a strong (not harsh) coffee and nutty tastes. Developing more indescribable spices that are simply amazing.

Last 1/4 - nothing has changed - thankfully!!! Final thoughts - it is interesting to me how full flavor these cigars are, and yet not a trace of harshness or bitterness. The ash was coal black and it burnt perfect all the way down. Very consistent and enjoyable to say the least! Overall - by far the best cigar of the weekend or of the year and ranks up with one of the best I've had in my life. Needless to say - it's highly recommend! IMHO simply pure heaven, not sure how this one could be topped for what it had to offer.

NOTE: When I finished this I was 'glassy' eyed and I only wished I had a full box waiting for me somewhere!

Montecristo Double Coronas Limited Edition Maduro
Reviewed by Carl Magnus Uggla

I finally managed to get hold of two Montecristo Double Corona Edicion Limitada Maduro 2001, and I could hardly wait to light them up. However, since the law firm I work at has a "no smoking indoors"-policy, and it still is somewhat cold outside, I had to wait. I looked - almost mesmerised - at the cigars for a few minutes. The colour was very nice to look at: maduro, dark, but still fair compared to many Dominican and Mexican maduros I have smoked. The wrapper was not at all veiny, even though it showed more veins than for example a regular Cohiba Lancero.

The cigars where also a delight to touch; when I very carefully pinched the head of the cigars they showed great pliability. They where clearly well rolled, not too firmly and not too loosely. The wrappers where quite oily, but did not exhibit any plum (yet - I expect such an oily cigar will do so after spending some more time in a humidor). When putting the unlit tip of the cigars to my nose I knew that I was in for a real treat. The smell was fabulous, a robust earthiness, yet surprisingly sweet, and with only hints of cedar.

Later that same evening I poured myself some vintage port and clipped one of my new Monte's. Before I lit the cigar I tried the draw, which was perfect and reviled a lot of flavours. I could tell that the sweetness I previously smelled seamed to derive form a taste of chocolate. I lit the cigar and it immediately revealed a full and strong range of flavours. The taste was strong, but sweet chocolaty and with a hint of cedar wood - just like the smell promised. All the way through this beautiful double corona the taste sensation just kept on growing, but what made this cigar such a great one, compared to many other double coronas I smoked, is that even though the taste became stronger and stronger it never once revealed even a hint of harshness. It burned perfectly and kept a cool draw all way until I put it down, after smoking ¾.

The next day a smoked the other cigar. It was identical in every way to the first one, but this time I enjoyed it with some Ardbeg 10, instead of with port, which was a good idea since the smoke was sweet in itself. I have since purchased and smoked another two that also where identical. Truly enjoyable to find a great cigar with great consistency. In conclusion, I must say that this is my all time favourite cigar, even better than Cohiba Piramides Edicion Limitada Maduro 2001, and that is saying a lot. I also imagine that it might improve a bit with age, becoming a sure classic, so if you can, get a box or two. I will!!!

Montecristo No. 2 - 1970s
Reviewed by Craig Block (April 2003)

I was given a 1970's Monte #2 as a gift, so last night i decided to smoke this cigar.

Appearance: Very nice looking, a colorado colored wrapper, it did not look frail in anyway. The torpedo look of the #2 is different than the new ones. you can tell if you have an old #2 by the way of the taper of the cigar. This baby was old. i cut the tip off, kinda at the end, not too big of a hole. I try and cut small and cut more off if need be, so I don't get too much of a draw. sometimes i get too hot of cigars if there is a really big draw.

Pre-light: Smells great! what more do i need to say. before i cut the cigar, i put the cigar in my mouth like i was drawing on it. my tongue got a little jolt, kinda when you first put an opus in your mouth, just to tell you, this won't be a weak cigar. LOL

This cigar lit very easily, no wet cigar here. it had a very white ash, somewhat firm. it had good smoke, not too much, not too little.

I will compare this cigar to different chocolates to help you get a better picture in your mind.

The first 1" or so was like a milk chocolate. lighter body with a floral taste bouquet to it. not too shabby. after an 1" or so it changes to a semi-sweet chocolate. little more body to it with none of the floral tastes i had in the beginning. this thing is just starting to warm up some. i had a little problems with some of the binder/wrapper staying lit. i think it was the binder rather than the wrapper. you could tell this thing was packed with ligero as you had to watch it, since ligero does not burn the best.

As I got to about the halfway point, it changed from semi-sweet chocolate to a dark chocolate. and it really did taste like dark chocolate. it was a smoky dark chocolate. whenever the ash fell off, I would get a good deal of smoke and then less when the ash built up. funny.

I put this down a little bit before the band. I gotta say, it was a pretty good cigar. i can only imagine what this thing would have tasted like fresh, I seriously doubt you could have smoked it without a couple years on it. it probably would have knocked you on your ass.

I can see where some people liken the taste of the Monte Millenium Robustos to the Montes of the old. I think the mille has at least a vague flavor profile to the OLD Montes. something which I like very much.

When I first lit this thing up, I thought it would knock me down, as i have read the older Cubans had alot more ligero in it. this one had mellowed enough for me to enjoy its flavors rather than getting knocked around by brute strength. it hadn't lost all of its strength, you could taste remnants of its youth as you as the cigar went along.

All in all a very refreshing cigar to smoke. I could see myself smoking these once in a while.

Montecristo No. 4
Reviewed by Mihai

This review, I'm glad to say, is not based on old tasting notes, nor is it conceived with the proverbial popularity of this cigar in mind. I am writing it while smoking the cigar this sunny afternoon in my garden. This is why the review is written in the present tense. So here it goes: Year of manufacture: 2002 (September)

Wrapper colour: Colorado (aka English Market Selection). In concrete terms, the colour is that of coffee with a touch of milk.

Appearance: smooth wrapper with very few, unobtrusive veins. After four months in the humidor, it feels slightly oily to the touch with a healthy sheen. Unlit, it carries the bouquet of wood and sweet vanilla.

Construction: uniform, no hard or weak spots, with brilliant draw all the way. Its burn is reasonably even (not perfect, though). The wrapper and binder seem to burn slightly faster than the filler.

Flavour/taste: the dominant notes are clearly earth mixed with fresh wood and spice. A touch of salty weed. Its strength is, to me, on the fuller side of medium.

Aroma: roasted nuts, combined with just a touch of vanilla and, perhaps, cinnamon. Rich, hugely pleasing.

Taste at different intervals of smoke. First puffs are satisfyingly voluptuous, the smoke is cool. Solid, round flavour and aroma. 1 inch in, the taste becomes more mature and develops a sweeter (delightful!) note. 2 inches in, the cigar releases a flavour of salty weed which is not at all overpowering. At the beginning of the 3rd inch, a tangy sensation appears, while a slightly stingy feel develops around the cap. Half-way through, there is a distinct bitterness and tanginess. The smoke itself becomes noticeably hot. 2 and a half inches to the end, the draw is indeed hot, harsh and stingy and I'm thinking of abandoning this Monte. I'm in fact doing so about 5 puffs later.

Ash colour: overall, it is light grey sometimes layered with mildly darker shades. In detail, the ash of the wrapper is almost white, while the filler is darker grey. The colour remains consistent throughout.

Finish / After-taste: I can detect the taste of salty earthiness persisting for about 5 minutes.

Overall impression: without any doubt, the Montecristo No. 4 is a prime example of the quality of Cuban petit coronas. It has the famous spiciness of Havana's soil, it is well constructed (it never went out) and benefits from the easiest draw in the world. Its flavour is good, sufficiently complex if not hugely sophisticated: a 'no non-sense' havana, in other words. I find that it also ages reasonably well and the maturing process does improve the whole smoking experience. Due to its medium strength, it appeals to the beginner and seasoned smokers alike (although they must be fans of spice in flavour). If, as a beginner, you like spice, then I wholeheartedly recommend this cigar. And, finally, my rating is 3.8/5

Montecristo No. 4

It was a rainy, fall day when the Cubans arrived at my door. As I unwrapped the complex packaging, I was struck with that 'anticipation' feeling of wondering what cigar I was going to receive. I reached into the box and to my delight withdrew a cigar band that was noticeable to anyone who smokes cigars. I'm referring to the Montecristo band, except this one with the Habana label! The wrapping was perfect with no visible veins or scarring of any kind and had a visible oily hue. It is one of those cigars that the smell (unlit, of course) is enough to start the salivary glands going.

In my haste, I couldn't wait to try one. I did however wait until after I had a nice non-filling dinner to fully appreciate the 'afterglow' of the evening. The Montecristo #4 (5", 42 ring), lit fairly easy. I struggled with the draw though, and attempted to alter my cut just enough to give me a little more. I ran the cigar along my fingers and noted that the foot of the cigar was rolled a little tight, hence, the difficult draw. The flavor however, was just what I expected in a Cuban. Notes of spiciness that continued until I was about half-way through the cigar. The flavor intensified as I smoked it but it still didn't loosen up, to my disappointment. Perhaps #2 would be a little looser. Cigar #2 was everything I had hoped it would be . A beautiful smoke with rich spicy flavors from the shade-grown wrapper. The draw and the burn were equally consistent. Obviously this cigar roller was a true professional. I am always pleasantly surprised by the volume of smoke that a good Cuban cigar has. It is one of the things lacking in Nicaraguan or Dominican cigars, although I have had some full-bodied cigars that were worthy of a Cuban in terms of volume. The other difference of course is the flavor and complexity. One of the qualities of a Cuban that is unlike anything, anywhere in the world. More than likely, it is the soil, rich in minerals just right for tobacco growing. It is no secret that Cuban seeds grow best in Cuban soil!

Cigar #3 was a little like the first although not quite a jaw-buster. The flavor and consistency was there. I enjoyed my last Montecristo with a cup of rich dark coffee that I am sure will keep me up late tonight as there is much studying to do (I'm getting my Bachelor's Degree in Nursing!). I would have preferred a larger size cigar, like a Toro, but this Petit Corona was just enough to top off my evening. I would HIGHLY recommend the Montecristo #4. A fine cigar in terms of great flavor, volume of smoke, consistency and a perfect burn. It will go down as one of my personal favorites. Thanks for this opportunity Cgarsltd! I will not forget it, and I look forward to my next purchase from you!

Montecristo Limited Edicion Maduro
Reviewed by Steve Heath (April 2001)

When this beautiful pair of Montecristo Limited Edition Maduro Robustos arrived in my mailbox, I felt like a little kid at Christmas. At first I was a bit surprised; I expected to see dark brown cigars but these were far from the darkest Havanas in my humidor. I suppose the term "maduro" in this case refers more to the location of the leaf on the plant and the method of growing and harvesting than it means color. Though I've been smoking my share of Havanas lately, I never really thought I'd get a chance to sample one of these. I was tempted to fire one up right away, but I thought it would be best to let them rest in the humidor for a while after their trip across the great pond.

The next thing I noticed was the impeccable construction. Both cigars had a flawless wrapper and a perfectly applied cap. A look at the foot of each cigar showed a first class bunching job, with no sign of booking or soft spots. I had read that some of the best torcedors in Cuba were put to work on these, and I believe it. The other thing I found interesting was the color.

The quality of the construction is where the similarities between the two cigars ended, however. There was a distinct difference in both the color and texture of the wrappers. One cigar had a medium brown, toothy wrapper with very little sheen to it, and looked more Cameroon than Cuban. The other was more classic in appearance, with a shiny mottled reddish brown tone to the smooth wrapper. While I've seen precious few full boxes of Cuban cigars, and certainly not a box of these, I can't believe the two samples came out of the same box.

The first to be lit was the cigar with the rougher wrapper. The initial puff was unlike anything I've experienced in a Cuban before, and was definately maduro. I immediately tasted a full tobacco flavor with a distinct cocoa sensation. The draw was a bit on the tight side, but the cigar still delivered enough smoke to enjoy. As I passed the first inch, the chocolate flavor subsided somewhat and was replaced by a tangy herbal type of taste. The intensity grew until just past the halfway point, where it once again turned sweet. Throughout the hour it took me to finish the cigar, it burned well and left behind a firm, dark gray ash.

I held off another week until I could resist no longer, and on a beautiful Saturday afternoon I clipped and toasted the second cigar. This one had a flavor profile very similar to the first, but was a bit more intense and complex, and I detected a bit of cedar behind the bittersweet chocolate. The smoke flowed more easily through this sample, which allowed me to smoke a bit more slowly. The slightly cooler smoke held nothing back; it was pure enjoyment from start to finish. I smoked this one until my fingertips were about to burn, then grabbed a pick so I could make it last just a little longer. Even though there was little more than a quarter inch left when I finally put it down, the taste never got too hot or bitter. This was one of the tastiest cigars I've ever had the pleasure to light. Thanks, Mitchell, for letting me participate in the taste test challenge, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Montecristo C Edicion Limitada 2003
Reviewed by Joe Gellman (May 2004)

Montecristo "C" Edicion Limitada 2003 - Every once and a while the Montecristo brand hits on a winner. The 2003 Edicion Limitada "C" is one of those times. At 5 5/8 x 46, this vitola is just what I like. It is firm, even, rolled to perfection, and a delight to handle. The wrapper is matte, silky to the touch, with some oils already showing. The hue is a definite Maduro, without any blemishes. Before lighting, the cigar has a fresh smell. It lights well, and burns cool at all times.

The cigar never was less than firm, even to the last puff. The ash is a light to medium gray, stays on the body until flicked off, and shows itself to be fully burned. You get everything this cigar has to offer. As with the pre-lighting, this cigar has to be described as "fresh." True, it is young, but still provides you with exactly the blenders sought to produce. It was an unusually overcast day in Los Angeles when I decided to smoke the "C".

I got a cup of dark French roast at the local Coffee Bean, sat by the open fire pit, and lit up. At first I noticed a musky, warm, and slightly toasty flavor. I recalled the day at Alejandro Robaina's farm, when I was handed a dried cocoa berry to suck on. Go ahead and laugh, if you must, but I never pass up a chance to experience new tastes; it certainly helps me in my cigar reviews (I recall referring to saffron and cardamom in a few reviews). In any event, I was reminded of the flavor of that cocoa berry almost from the first puff.

The draw was easy and plenty of satisfying smoke was had with each light puff. Unlike many cigars, the aroma was very pleasant, and nobody around me screamed, held their nose, or moved away.

Before I go on, I must warn the reader of a serious problem with this cigar: it will be sold out before you can stock up! Do so, NOW. There was a very subtle spice to the cigar, nothing pronounced enough to pin a name to, however. There was a hint of warm raspberry about half way through the cigar, but even that was faint. Without doubt, the term "creamy" applies to this cigar. In addition to the above, I noticed a bit of floral undertones to the cigar.

So, what you can expect is a very new twist to the Cuban cigar industry. This is not an in-your-face cigar. Rather, it is a fully enjoyable smoke, with churrigueresque subtleties (yes, that might seem a contradiction, being both subtle and churrigueresque, but there you have it). I was distracted, for a few moments by two of the 'regulars' at the Coffee Bean. One guy was trying to explain how they are producing salmon by farming them, and his solution to the problem of fish food falling to the bottom of the fish beds they are raised in.

The other, Jennifer, a massage therapist (hmm) cum UCLA psychology student, discussing 'problem solving.' Actually, she was more of a distraction. I have a simple suggestion for those of you who will be fortunate to purchase these cigars from Mitchell - try the first one without food or drink. It really is one of those cigars whose enjoyment comes from the smoking experience, alone.

Likewise, I believe you will be able to experience the subtleties of this cigar if you are not distracted by food or drink (by the way, I think Mitchell believes Mojitos are a subcategory of food). The cigar is fresh and has an easy, soft, finish. If Mitchell would send a few more, I would be more than happy to do a review of the cigar every 6 months or so. It is not possible for this cigar to do anything but get better with age.

Montecristo A
Reviewed by Joe Gellman (October 2001)

The entire Montecristo line is somewhat new to Cuba, first begun in 1934 by the Menendez and Garcia families who began the line with five vitolas. It was first known as the H. Upmann Montecristo, but that lasted only for a year. The family needed distribution for their cigars and approached what is now Hunter & Frankau. The brand was renamed "Montecristo" and the logo was designed by a director of H&F. Thus, we have the crossed swords associated with Dumas' The Count of Montecristo, from which the name originates. The Dunhill company started a marketing push on the brand and is responsible for its wide distribution, even in todays market.

The "A" is a mighty cigar, and as far as most Cubaholics are concerned, the paradigm of what a Gran Corona ought to be, with good reason. Since this cigar is unique in size, it is important to understand the process by which its leaves are selected.

The wrapper of the cigar is called the âeregazo', and are graded on their size and quality. The best leaf is classified as a #10 Regazo. The individual who handles this classification are called rezagadoras and the best can discern over 40 types. It is said that only the best of the best go into making the "A".

The cigar measures 47 x 19 ½, and is usually presented in a varnished box of two layers of 25. The cigar is also sold in an individual 'coffin'. In either case, the container should be opened to allow the cigar to breath and age properly. I am luck to have saved an "A" from the original shipment, which I found in my father's humidor after he died; a present from the grave, so to speak. This is not one of the cigars I smoked for this review. I intend to keep it until my daughter marries and, if she remains single, pass it on to a friend.

The cigars I tested were from two sources, MO and a gift from Kelly Kimura. Both were firm but not overly so. The wrappers were perfection, akin to the Trinidad's I recently reviewed. The color of both cigars were âemaduro' and did not have a flaw. The one from MO was gifted when one of his clients complained that the foot was broken as was part of the head. Frankly, I did not care since the foot quickly goes up in smoke and the head was easily fixed with a dollop of saliva (mine, of course). There were no soft spots on the 9 ½ inch shaft and the cigar was somewhat hefty. At 18.6 grams it ought to be heavy, and each cigar weighed the same. The cigar had a rich, smooth feel to it with very little oil showing.

The cigar lit well and produced a very heavy aroma, in the room. The initial taste was quite earthy and rich, yet not overpowering, at all (sorry, Vahe Gerard, you are wrong!). The cigar smoked very cool and did not lose any flavor nor become tedious to smoke. All through the smoke I was able to get just the right amount of smoke with a very easy draw. The cigar never ran and the ash showed a complete and even burn.

I was unable to point to the exact taste and can only say that there was a hint of exotic spice for the first half which became more pronounced in the last half. I cannot say that this cigar was spicy though it did have ample spiciness to it which did not overshadow the undertones of wood and a creamy, light, sweetness. I kept thinking of sweet peas whenever I got a hint of the sweet aroma, but this might just be my mind playing tricks on me. At the last three inches the cigar's flavors became more pronounced but never too strong to handle. While many "experts" on the subject tell us that the cigar is for the experiences smoker and can make one dizzy, I did not find this to be the case. Frankly, I would be happy to suggest this cigar to anyone. The fact is, the entire Montecristo line is of medium strength, and can be enjoyed by all who can get one.

Montecristo & Hoyo Minis
Reviewed by Joe Gellman

I was a little concerned about buying several boxes of Mini's from C.GARS Ltd but, on their word that they were good, I followed their suggestion...and am happy for it.

Both cigars measure approximately 8.73 x 83 (the Hoyo is a fraction larger in the ring size) and are nice to look at. The Monte is not packed as firmly as the Hoyo and, thus, burns faster. The Monte lasted 6 minutes and the Hoyo 8 minutes. Both are made of 100% Cuban tobacco and fabricated in Spain, by Tabacalera S.A., under the supervision and license of Habanos S.A.

The Monte is soft to the touch, matte, has an ambered, aromatic aroma (not offensive in a closed room), quite mild, and sweet.

The Hoyo is firm to the touch, has a matt finish, and looks more promising than the Monte, perhaps due to the impression that it is thicker. This cigar is not as sweet as the Monte, has a fruity subtle taste, and possesses just a hint of spice.

I had to smoke several of each Mini before I noticed that the Hoyo also had a woody taste.

Both Mini's are a blessing to the smoker who had a few minutes to get a whiff of Cuba and does not want to smoke the harsher Cuban cigarettes.

Tabacalera calls these little friends a "cigarrito" and I call them, simply delightful.

I would not hesitate to recommend either brand to either a novice or seasoned smoker of Cuban cigars. You will not be disappointed in the cigar, the price, nor the pleasure derived from smoking one.

Montecristo Joyitas
Reviewed by Joe Gellman

This is the smallest vitola in the Montecristo brand. It measures 4 1/2" long with a 26 ring gauge.

While this short smoke has been described as lacking in flavour and bouquet, I defy anyone to smoke a few of these and tell me they are not worth the price. I usually smoke this cigar on the way home from the office (luckily I live a few minutes away from the office) or on a rare break in court (just enough time to run outside and light up for a delightful short smoke).

The day just began and I found myself up a tad before my wife. Not being allowed to smoke inside the home, I quickly grabbed a Joyita and went out to see where the newsboy threw the morning paper. Right at the front steps, damn! I lit the cigar and, as usual, it flamed to a bright, sweet, start. A hint of vanilla wafted around and the sure, solid taste of a Havana leaf grabbed me right away. By the time I walked around the house the cigar was history.

How and why would I bother to describe such a little smoke, an almost insignificant period to adjust to the flavour and aroma? Why not? This little gem was dark, oily, had a delightful sheen, and was rolled in the usual manner of the Montes. Both selections I enjoyed this day lit quickly and provided sufficient smoke for my enjoyment. Both (oh, did I forget to say that I had time for a second Joyita while coffee was being made?) had a telltale dark ash and on the second cigar I never got to flick the ash off, it hung on down to the band (which, due to aging and poor eyesight, I had to wear glasses to read).

The flavour did not linger, nor did the memory of the smoke beguile me from my next delight. The New Connoisseur's Guide to Havana Cigars book has a rather low opinion of this cigar. Perhaps the factory has added to the blend, perhaps my taste buds are shot. I agree that this cigar smokes hot, but, what the hell are you expecting from a 'quickie'?