It's also exciting because certain Cuban cigars seem to be in short supply lately, as reported by Cigar Aficionado magazine, among others. These are super duper extra in demand, so just getting our hands on some had us pretty stoked. For the record, ours came from England and cost about $35 each. (We'll report on the other Añejados release, the Romeo y Julieta Pirámides, as soon as we smoke it.)
Unlike non-Cuban brands, which tend to stretch the definition of Churchill to mean cigars with a ring gauge bigger than an entire deli ham, this is a 7x47. It's also unique in the Montecristo line and exclusively offered as part of the Añejados program, which is denoted by a second band.
Okay, now that we've got all that out of the way, we can finally tell you how it smokes. And the answer is: uniquely. Frankly, if we smoked it blind, we'd be hard pressed to identify it as a Montecristo. It kinda looks like one, but the wrapper is oiler and slightly darker than we're accustomed to seeing on this brand. Then again, there is generally a good deal of variation with Montes, owing to the fact they're produced in monstrous quantities and also at various factories—especially the No. 4., which is one of the most popular cigars in the entire world.
The first impression is of a very well-aged cigar. Habanos isn't bullshitting and just sticking a second band on so they can charge triple. This Churchill comes right out of the gate as very soft and refined and lovely. But once again, not especially Monecristo-ish. For at least the first half-inch, it just tastes of nice, simple, lush tobacco.
The experience leaves us somewhat puzzled. Is this really just a standard Montecristo? Or was it perhaps blended with a certain end result in mind? Maybe the makers decided to tweak the blend a bit knowing that aging would temper certain aspects. We're just guessing, and the Cubans aren't saying. One of our crew strongly felt the cigar more closely resembled a Ramon Allones than a Monte. We smoked these back to back with newer Monte No. 2s and confirmed there was a noticeable divergence in flavor. Whether that was due to age or the blend is up in the air.
Though our opinions varied somewhat on that last point, one thing we all agreed upon was that these were flawlessly constructed, and the burn and draw was fabulous, offering up a genuinely mouth-filling texture. We believe that extra attention was lavished on them, as befits a cigar costing about as much as a home cooked lobster dinner. With sides. And a few good beers. And a Monte No. 4 for after dinner. And holy crap cigars are getting freaking expensive! You could literally feed a small village in Africa for the price of one of these. Now we feel guilty.
Although this is unquestionably a lovely cigar, it's also not the kind of complex where you're left analyzing every little aspect. All of the flavors we described are subtle but upfront and (we think) pretty easy to pick out. You'll want to pair this with something light and refreshing, like champagne or weak tea. It's easily overpowered by anything from cola to brown spirits. However, it's so fresh and clean on the palate that you won't be hankering for a cleanser.
All in all, given the price, we'd be more inclined to reach for a newer-production Monte than one of these. However, if you're unaccustomed to how nice a well-aged Cuban cigar can be, by all means give these a try. And certainly it's worth experiencing a Montecristo in the Churchill format for the first time. Just be aware that these are unique in the Montecristo range and may not be exactly what you're expecting.