If I offered a cigar lover a Montecristo, the chances are that he (or she) would almost certainly assume that I was talking about either the legendary No. 2, the most popular pyramid outside Egypt, or the ubiquitous No. 4, the much-loved petit corona.
For reasons seemingly unfathomable, Nos. 1, 3, and 5 never enjoy the same love.
No. 5 is an even smaller version of 4 and, to be honest, of such diminutive stature that it must almost seem like smoking a cigarette (in fairness, perhaps I should not comment on that as I have never had a cigarette in my life).
No. 1 is a personal favorite, and those few remaining dinosaurs among us, me included, still enjoy a good Lonsdale (think slim and long).
No. 3 is a corona (yes, an ugly word these days, but one hopes they remain uninfected). Technically, a ring gauge of 42 mm and a length of 142 mm. The trend to jawbreakers led to many a good corona being left to wallow in the dust.
And the Montecristo No. 3 is most certainly a good corona.
That said, I must confess that it had been a few years since I had tried one. They really do sneak under the radar. But when a friend offered me one recently, I quickly remembered why they should be in everyone’s rotation and what I had been missing.
In recent years, regular-production cigars have slipped a peg or two as all the Limited Editions, Regional Releases, Añejados, one-offs, jars, books, and vintage releases take center stage. So we thought it might be a good time, with everyone locked away, to suggest a cracking cigar that is great value and usually readily available.
Come on down, the Montecristo No. 3!
A little Montecristo history
Established in 1935, Montecristo is one of the most admired cigar brands in the world.
Alonso Menéndez was a Spaniard who worked in the United States in the tobacco industry before moving to Cuba in the early 1930s. In 1935, he purchased the Particulares factory and added a new brand, Montecristo.
So successful was the new brand that it allowed him to purchase the Upmann Factory from J. Frankau & Co./J.R. Freeman & Son in 1937. He then transferred production of the Montecristo cigars to that factory, although it didn’t take long before a larger site was required. The tobacco comes from the elite region of Vuelta Abajo.
The name Montecristo comes from the book The Count of Montecristo by Alexander Dumas, which was a popular favorite among the books read in the factory to the rollers as they worked. More correctly, when read by the lector to the torcedores.
Originally, just the 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 were made, but these days the range is considerably increased. New cigars were introduced from 1969. More recently, Montecristo has added what is known as the Open range, which are apparently, good sellers, but a long way from my favorites.
The character of Montecristo is for medium to medium-full cigars with lots of chocolate, cocoa powder, and richness.
Tasting notes on the Montecristo No. 3
For me, Montecristo No. 3s offer lovely chocolate notes with cocoa powder – exactly as mentioned above – with good intensity and richness, which carries throughout. The key is balance.
In addition, creamy coffee notes are likely to emerge fairly quickly, but we are talking a dash of cream in strong, dark coffee. The texture is velvety and cushiony. If you are a lover of Montecristo No. 4s, imagine a Monte 4 on steroids. It will take a pleasant hour, give or take, to smoke.
One point – we talk about the desirability of evolution in a cigar throughout the journey. The Montecristo No. 3 does not offer much evolution, but that is hardly an issue. The flavors are powerful, balanced, and rich. More than enough.
A benefit of Montecristo No. 3s is that they tend to be very consistent from one cigar to the next, something rarely said about most Cuban cigars.
Remember that these cost around $255 (AUD$750 if you are so unfortunate that you have to buy in Australia), so it is not as though you should be expecting the glories of a pre-Revolution smoke. They are simply delicious cigars, offering terrific flavors and fabulous value.
There is no reason for these not to be a part of your regular rotation.
For more information, please visit www.habanos.com/en/marcas/montecristo.