Bite Size Review: Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez
Ah, Montecristo. At some point in your cigar journey you most likely enjoyed at least one Cuban or non-Cuban Montecristo. Perhaps a Cuban No. 2 or maybe a Classic. Maybe you’re like me and cut your teeth on non-Cuban originals. Whatever your preference, one thing is certain: you can’t go wrong with a “Monte.” Altadis USA, who owns the non-Cuban lines, has introduced many blend variations over the years. Most of the Montecristos you’ve enjoyed are blended by the Grupo de Maestros, a consortium of the finest blenders based in the Dominican Republic.
After the success of shaking up it’s non-Cuban Romeo Y Julieta line in 2012 (think Romeo), Altadis decided to spice up its flagship Montecristo lines, beginning with the first “Monte” iteration in 2013. Released to wide acclaim, the bolder Monte gave Montecristo lovers the tastes and kick in the pants they desired. Three years later, Altadis connected with tobacco wunderkind, AJ Fernandez, on 2 projects: the Sumatra-skinned Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez (2016) blended exclusively for their JR Cigars chain and the 2nd gen Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez (2017), designed for a demographic looking for a stonger, bolder Montecristo.
Our box-pressed toro is more of a demi-press, but the aesthetic is pleasant and construction, solid. The cold draw, a bit tight at first, opens nicely in short order. The fragrant mocha and prune aromas carry over to the dark fruit and chocolatey profiles. The complexity is wonderful throughout all transitions, featuring a light spice with notes of graham cracker, nougat, coffee, candied nuts complemented by warm espresso finishes. The blend becomes bolder as you smoke, but is well-balanced imparting zesty oak, charred wood and earth notes. Combustion is excellent but the char becomes irregular close to the end requiring one touch up. Without question, this IS a full Monte, and if your palate leans more to the bolder side, you will enjoy this cigar. A lot.- In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: This Monte was intended, and is considered, to be the “boldest” of the non-Cuban Montecristo line.
- Profile: Full
- Vitola: Box Press Toro
- Length / Ring Gauge: 6.0″ x 55
- Purchased: B&M
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo ’98
- Filler: Nicaraguan Criollo ’98, Dominican Piloto Cubano
- Cutter: Colibri ‘V’
- Lighter: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $10.00
- Humidor Age: 12+ mo.
- Box: 20
- Other Vitolas: Corona [5″x44], Robusto [4.25″x54], Belicoso [6.125″x54]
Smoke Time: 1:27
Draw: Firm initially, but opens nicely
Construction: More of a demi press; good uniform firmness; semi-veiny; light tooth; nice seams; solid cap; milk chocolate-colored habano wrapper; holds strong, 1″ salt-pepper ash.
- Wrapper – Mocha, prunes
- Foot – Floral
- Cold Draw – Dark fruit
- Initial: Creamy nougat and candied nut notes surround a light spice; Hints of graham cracker and toasted almonds on retro; Finish is moderate with coffee notes and graham cracker; becomes oaky with a bolder espresso finish.
- Transition: Earthy accented by dark fruit and lingering graham cracker notes; charred wood and light mocha intonations;
- Transition: Dark chocolate on draw; bolder earth and coffee profile with cedar notes on finish; hints of toasted nuts on retro; savory;
Balance: Very good
Touch ups: 1
Combustion: Very good (becomes irregular in final transition)
Recommendation: 1. Boxworthy
- Go-to (boxworthy)
- Yard ‘gar
- Smoke a banana instead