Montecristo is easily one of the world’s most recognizable trademarks when it comes to cigars and I’m quite sure you’ll agree with me on that. Ask a few folks to name three brands of cigars off the top of their head and I can all but guarantee you that Montecristo will be one of them along with Macanudo and Cohiba. What I find interesting is that for all of the fame and recognition this brand gets, these cigars have very little to offer the savvy cigar-enthusiast. These days the trend is headed towards fuller-bodied and more complex cigars that are loaded with flavor and spice. This is not to say that there aren’t a great number of people who enjoy the Montecristo brand however. More so, it is an observation of a brand that owes much of its recognition to the fact that its Cuban counterpart is largely regarded as one of the finest cigars ever produced. To validate this I grabbed a 5-pack of the Montecristo #2 size (Dominican version of course) after realizing that I hadn’t smoked this cigar in at least a few years and owed it to the brand to review it objectively.
Out of the box it is worth noting that the Montecristo is a very well-constructed cigar with no soft-spots to speak of. This is true of each of the five I have on my desk. The Connecticut-Shade wrapper is golden in color with a slightly mottled and blotchy appearance. Clipping the head I drew on the cigar a few times before actually lighting it and found the pre-light draw to be reminiscent of freshly-baked bread and very pleasant. The draw itself is perfect and provides just the right amount of resistance. I toasted the foot, took a few puffs and I was off… The first few draws are very smooth and produce large, thick clouds of smoke. The flavor is light with a subtle cedar note and a very short finish. At an inch or so in the burn is impeccable and a sweet, woody aroma has filled the air. The ash is tight and compact and requires a firm tap to dislodge it from the foot. At the half-way mark I find the flavor and strength to be nearly identical to the first inch. Nuances of cedar persist but really not a whole lot else going on with the fabled Montecristo. With just over an inch and a half to go I find myself ready to lay the #2 to rest and hardly impressed with it.
The Monte #2 isn’t a bad smoke by any stretch of the imagination but it does lack the excitement and dimension of many of today’s newer boutique blends. In recent years the cigar industry has become one where the latest and greatest is constantly being redefined by small-batch production that utilizes the very best tobaccos often previously passed over by larger manufacturers due to lack of sustainability. While Montecristo will most likely remain a popular brand name for years to come, the cigar itself is average at best. The sea of mediocre cigars is a large one and if mild to medium-bodied and one-dimensional is what you seek, there are plenty of alternatives to Montecristo that are equally well-constructed and sell for less than half the price.