Monday, January 9, 2012

Montecristo Original Collezione Cristalli

Montecristo Original Collezione Cristalli

Fatal Halo Rating

Price: Part of a gift set collection ($10.50 per stick online price)
Burn Time: 2 hours
Dominican binder and filler
Connecticut shade wrapper

Montecristos are an exceptional brand for a lot of reasons, but for me they are personally special because they remind me of my father.  I grew up watching my father enjoy a cigar now and again (I remember Cohibas and Macanudos were a popular choice of his for some time), and it wasn’t until many years later that I came to appreciate them in the same way I believe that he does.  Due to all my tattoos, piercings, music preferences and the unconventional lifestyle that sets me apart from my parents and siblings, there is not a lot I share in common with my family, but a good cigar has become the means by which my father and I have ultimately found our mutual interest.  Over the course of the last year, I’ve sampled many different cigars and have learned more than I thought was possible to know about them.  I’ve found some choice “favorites” among the many, but I will always enjoy a Montecristo not only because of their reputation, but more importantly because of that very personal connection I have to them.  Montecristo is my father’s brand of choice and the cigar I am reviewing today comes as part of a gift set collection that he sent me – and therefore this review is dedicated to him as my way of saying thanks.

Pre-Smoke Analysis

I have to say that most of the cigars I analyze before lighting up really don’t have much to offer.  They may look appealing, but they often fall short of giving away any clues as to what the smoking experience is going to be like.  Not so with this cigar.  After removing it from its glass tube, I checked the feel of construction and found it to be essentially flawless.  Handmade in the Dominican Republic, this cigar was undoubtedly rolled by a master of the trade – a true Artisan.  There were no soft-spots whatsoever and the wrapper itself was silky smooth with a triple-capped head.  Though impressive in design alone, the real reward was the aroma.  The cigar smelled as if it were infused with a fine cognac with the bouquet becoming more pronounced at the foot.  Odd as it sounds, I spent a good few minutes just twisting and running the cigar under my nose to savor its perfume.  I’ve never appreciated this part of the analysis as much as I have with this cigar.

The First Third

The cap clipped cleanly with no fraying and a dry draw on the stick let me know that it would be a little tight toward the cap but should smoke evenly as long as I applied some modest pressure on the pinch.  The foot took the flame like kindling and I quickly had the ring of fire glowing well-enough for me to take my first couple of draws off of it.  Definitely a light to medium-body cigar, the flavor and aromas were not over the top and were actually quite gentle on my palate.  No hint of the spice or pepper that I was anticipating, the flavor was buttery and smooth and I even had to check it once or twice to make sure it was burning strong which, of course, it was.  I suppose I am used to more full-bodied cigars, but the gentleness of this cigar really allowed me to pass the smoke over my palate a bit more than I’m usually accustomed to and was able to pick up on strong essences of wood (cedar perhaps) and nut.  The burn was flawless – producing a flaky, light-gray ash that broke off with minimal effort yet retained the cigar’s shape almost faultlessly.  I was able to just lean back and really enjoy its subtle nuances.  I was doubling up on each draw to produce thick and creamy smoke.

The Second Third

By the time I reached midpoint of the cigar, I was thoroughly enjoying it.  The flavors and aromas stayed pretty consistent throughout as did the evenness of the burn.  I was picking up on a definite sweetness now and the nutty flavor was becoming a little more “roasted” and pronounced.  I was also noticing a “leather” piquancy that remind me very specifically of the aroma on my family’s back porch looking out onto the South Carolina  ocean while my father enjoys an “end of the day” cigar.  It’s a very specific scent that triggers this memory for me and something that I’ve found is wholly unique to Montecristos.  There was a very modest increase in pepper that stimulated my sinuses and balanced out the overall tone of the cigar.

Burning Out

As I expected from my dry draw before lighting, it became a little more difficult to draw off of the cigar as I approached the end of it, so I had to pinch a little harder around the cap to get a good pull of smoke.  The flavors and aromas remained fairly consistent and I didn’t pick up on any notable changes for the duration of the final third of the cigar.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I felt this cigar was a little mind for my taste – but still undoubtedly a masterpiece of a cigar in both construction and burn.  As part of the Cristalli collection, the smoke was about as perfect as one you’re likely to find having been sealed in a glass tube immediately after construction and, of course, bearing the Montecristo band.  This cigar truly looked as if it should be on display somewhere and I felt a slight twinge of guilt as I cut and torched it, but nevertheless a remarkable cigar and one I would highly recommend to those new to smoking cigars or just looking for a real mild to medium-bodied smoke.  In fact, at my first cigar social event, I recommended these cigars specifically.  I would very much like try this cigar again – but perhaps a shorter, thicker version to see if it packs a little more punch.  The gift set this cigar was a part of also includes the Montecristo Afriques, Platinums, Whites and Negras, so I am looking forward to reviewing each one of those in the near future.

Thank you Dad for sending me this incredible gift set and I look forward to another night on the porch with you soon overlooking the ocean, admiring the blanket of stars in the sky above, listening to Jack Johnson, cracking a bottle of wine and sharing another fine cigar!

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