Cigar Review – Montecristo No. 4, Oct 2009 “RAS” box code; Final Score – 88

So, here’s my (long-delayed) third cigar review to start off this blog.  Since I had initially decided to get this blog off the ground and running, I had decided which cigars I wanted to review first.  My initial three?  Romeo y Julieta Coronitas en CedrosRyJ Romeo No. 2 tubos, and this Montecristo No. 4.  Back to basics, so to speak.

The Coronitas en Cedros that I had was damn good.  The Romeo No. 2 tubos was not as good as I was hoping, as the first half was generally disappointing, but the end blew it out of the water, considering.   What about this Monte 4?

The Montecristo No. 4 is the most produced cigar coming out of Cuba, for many years running now.  It’s been reported that something in the nature of 20 to 25 million out of the 100 million or so Habanos rolled every year is a Montecristo No. 4.  The brand is one of the most well known among aficionados and newcomers alike, lent in part due to the strong history of the brand since it’s creation in 1935, and the tie in to Alexandre Dumas’ hero in “The Count of Monte Cristo”, a novel much loved by the torcedores of the Particulares Factory, where the brand was created.

However, due to the international popularity and sheer market dominance, the high production numbers are also unfortunately it’s downfall.  That’s why, although many newcomers and experienced cigar smokers alike enjoy the Montecristo flavour profile, there can be some dreaded Monte’s out there as well.  It’s so overproduced at multiple factories that there’s a plethora of box codes and production runs out there for them, and such a huge variance in quality and flavour profile.  And that’s truly unfortunate.  You really need to get a stellar box of these to enjoy the best of the flavour profile, which shouldn’t be the case with fine Habanos, but it is with Montecristo especially.

Is this a great one?  Let’s see how it rolls along…

On to the review:

Reviewed Cigar:  Montecristo No. 4

Box Date:  Oct 2009

Factory / Manufacture Code:  RAS

Packaging:  25-box, standard dress box

Price per cigar:  $6.76 USD (online vendor, 2010 purchase)

Length:  5 1/8″, or 129 mm

Ring Gauge:  42

Format:  Petit Corona

Weight:  8.5 grams / 0.3 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This is from a box bought in 2010.  For the reasons I described above, Monte 4’s (and 2’s) are ones that I will not “buy blind” – if I can’t hand-select my own boxes at a brick & mortar store, at a LCDH, or down in Cuba directly, then I’ll only buy these from a vendor that I trust to make a proper quality grading and hand-pick of these as well.  This cigar, when you get a great one, is well worth any premium incurred for that.

This sample cigar is a great example of that.  Great aroma at cold, excellent dark and mildly oily wrapper, great bunching at the foot.  With a wonderful triple cap, these have a slight box press, and sport the glossy re-imagined bands (not the newer style with gold embossing, but nicer than the original matte dull brown bands).

After clipping, the draw on this one was perfect.  Tasting it at cold, I was getting decent amounts of cappuccino notes, and some faint leather aromas.

Opening Impressions:  After lighting up and initial draws, the draw was just perfect when lit as well.  The body/density of the smoke was about medium – not as dense and creamy as I like to have, but still tantalizing.

First Third:  Into the first third, it was okay.  Definite hits of that cream and coffee Montecristo essence.  But it wasn’t as bold or rich as I was kinda hoping for.  Kind of like if you order a rich coffee with cream and sugar, and instead get a mildly watered-down coffee with milk and sweetener.  For those of you who are cigar or coffee buffs, you’ll get this analogy – while you kind of get what you ordered, it seems like it’s been cheaped out on, like you’re getting a faint cousin to the item that you wished for.

The ash was holding meekly as well.  Only about 1/4 of an inch before it would easily fall off.

Second Third:  Into the second third, some improvement.  Seemed to get hints of fresh leather and mild cedar sweetness mixing in there.  Smoke slightly and slowly started to thicken up.  Then…

Final Third:  Into the last third, and it developed into what I wishes for from the start.  The richness was there in heaps.  Thick, creamy smoke, rich coffee with cream and sugar, some leathery complexity in there, and just a very well-rounded flavour profile.  Unfortunately and surprisingly, no unsweetened cocoa in there in the mix.

But overall, wish it was like this from the start, with the 2nd half making it all worthwhile, and “good to the last drop.”  Gladly ended up smoking it down to it’s screaming end.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  Wish this one was better from the get-go.  I’ve smoked through most of this box, and most have been quite good.  Looking through past notes, none from this box have dropped below an 86 I believe, but I’ve had a few reaching 93 or so too.  This one sample was just missing that ooomph in the first half.  While there was nothing wrong with it, per say, in that first third and a bit, there was nothing overwhelming either.

All that said, the second half was wonderful.  Monte 4’s aren’t overly complex, like a La Gloria Cubana or a nicely aged Cohiba or Trinidad.  But they’re a well-rounded flavour profile that most seem to love (who doesn’t like a nice coffee with cream and sugar, and a hint of cocoa?!), and form one of those “basic stepping-stones” for those new to Cuban cigars, and hold a special place for most.

Final Score:  88

Total Smoking Time:  52 minutes

Paired Beverage:  Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos and Coke Zero

Last Meal:  BBQ’d angus steak dinner, 3-1/3 hrs previous

Date & Time Smoked:  September 24th, 2014; lit up at 9:50 pm, done at 10:42 pm

Smoking Conditions:  Clear and cool night, light breeze at 12 km/h, 10 degrees Celsius, 76% RH

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

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