When you think of Cuban cigars, the first thing that comes to mind may be “Montecristo.” In fact, 50% of all cuban cigars sold worldwide are Montecristos. Perhaps the reason for this is the brand’s smooth taste; these cigars are easy to enjoy.
The Montecristo brand was created in 1935 by Alonso Menendez and Jose Manuel Garcia, who had just purchased the H. Upmann brand. They started rolling 5 different cigars, numbered 1 to 5, using the best H. Upmann torcedores. The name itself is taken from the Alexander Dumas novel which was often read in the H. Upmann cigar factories. Menendez and Garcia left for the Canary Islands during the revolution, however when opening a new box of Montecristos today their signatures are still displayed prominently on the sheet covering the cigars.
Montecristo No.4’s were the first real investment I made in Cuban cigars. A family member was travelling to Cuba and I requested this size of cigar because of the medium ring guage(42) and shorter length(129mm) which felt appropriate for an amateur smoker like myself. Many of the cuban brands in the petit corona or mareva format seemed to have good ratings at cigar-review.org. There are previous reviews at CigarInspector, Humiblog, and World of Cigars. While at the resort, the salesman in the Habanos store really pushed the No.4’s likely because they were the most expensive of the petit coronas on my list. This was a fortunate decision as these cigars exceeded my expectations and have sparked my interest in cuban cigars in general.
Of my presentation box of 25, labeled December 2007, I have smoked 4 since opening the box in April 2008. The first thing I noticed was how tightly packed and well constructed these were compared to other cheaper cigars I had smoked in the past. After lighting, this tight packing means a bit of a tough draw, which I don’t mind because it allows the smoking experience to slow down a bit and prevents me from smoking too fast which I often do. I smoked two in the first month after receiving them, and one later that summer. The first three were somewhat disappointing because the flavor of the smoke seemed a little too bitter and rough. They were definitely strong. Of course now I know that this is typical for cigars so fresh, and after smoking the fourth one recently I can see what a difference the aging makes, even after a year and a half. Burning very evenly for about an hour, I kept catching whiffs of very sweet smelling smoke, almost like a vanilla flavoured cofee. The smoke was rich and much more balanced than a year ago, still a strong smoke but not overwhelming in any sense. I look forward to exploring the rest of my box as the tobacco gets older, if I can resist temptation.