Origin : Cuba
Size : 152 mm (6") x 15.08 mm
Format : Laguito No 2 - Long Panetela
Origin : Cuba
Price : ~ € 12,90 / $ 15.40
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An uneven cigar from Montecristo in the preferred vitola of some of the 20th century's most legendary stogie smokers, the Montecristo Especial No 2, despite rough edges, nonetheless gives you a long, truly Cuban smoking experience.
Would you like Comandante Fidel's personal favourite cigar at one-third off the price? If so, this is what Habanos itself can provide you. Indeed, this precise vitola here, was the personal favourite cigar type not only of Fidel Castro (1926-2016), but also of Zino Davidoff (1906-1994), and Zino's late partner & successor who orchestrated the post-Cuban Davidoff, Ernst Schneider (1922-2009). Fidel made it clear in interviews that the Cohiba version of this vitola, sold as the 'Coronas Especiales', was his personally preferred stick.
The Montecristo Especial No 2 is the least expensive of the now four in total, Cuban & Davidoff offerings of this vitola from which we can choose. In my local pricing, this Monte is about € 12,90, the Davidoff No 2 at about € 16,90, the Cohiba Coronas Especiales at about € 18,90, and the new dark-wrapper Davidoff 702 Series No 2 at about € 20,90.
Though not so currently fashionable in today's more 'Robusto' cigar era, there is much to be said for the long panetela cigar format, the 'panetela extra' as it was long called. Much like some in an earlier generation, I myself tend to feel the most elegant when handling a longer, slender cigar, though I feel this classic vitola is a bit too lengthy, with the long panetelas most attractive to me at about 120-140mm (4 3/4" to 5 1/2").
The panetela thickness - roughly 30 to 39 ring gauge - has a certain pleasantness in the mouth for some of us, plus the virtue that even a strongish long cigar that is slender, is never really overwhelming. You can combine serious flavour and strength in what yet remains to some degree a lighter smoke. It's also said that new smokers tend to more easily come to love cigars if their first dozen or so sticks are panetelas.
The downside of the panetela, is that the stick can overheat more easily if you puff & 'herf' too strongly, risking some loss of flavour and quality of experience. Another downside is that for hand-made cigars, it is more difficult for the torcedora cigar rollers to get a narrow cigar 'right' in terms of not being too tight or plugged, and this is a particular problem with thinner Cuban cigars, at times needing a saving poke with a cigar-piercing tool.
Tho in ease of draw, this Montecristo Especial No 2 has never been a major problem any time I have had one. The Monte Especial No 2 is, however, a bit of a rougher sibling to its 3 pricier sisters.
In looks this one in particular was not so smooth, with a bit of colour contrast on the pigtail cap. An older cigar at the shop, part of the pigtail fell off while handling it before lighting, tipping me off to how it had uneven storage at some point, showing further in the crumbling ash on the initial part of the cigar.
Pre-draw aroma was mild, but with a beautiful taste on the inhale, old forest with a bit of spice. After lighting there was a taste of walnut along with a burning wood fire, a bit of a harsh side showing itself, then it settled down after a few minutes to being a bit smoother and more nutty.
After the initial couple of centimetres of ash crumbled, the ash then held quite well, to 3cm or so, before falling off. The ash did however turn twisty with some funny big 'ears' at one point. Burn was fairly uneven, and a few touch-ups were required. A funny thing about this very long panetela, is that in early stages it takes much more effort to purge the cigar, which here was needed to stave off some incipient harshness.
The middle section after a good purge, got quite softly flavoured, though with some interesting roasted-chestnut tastes, followed by the flavour almost generally fading away. This stick had gotten a bit too mellow in its long sojourn in the store's humidor room. The final third of my hour with this cigar remained pleasant, though also unremarkable flavour-wise. There was a bit of nuttiness, bits of slight harshness, and moments of flavour just missing.
Toward the end, however, I realised I still had the involuntary smile on my face, the feeling of having smoked a decent Cuban cigar at length, a bit of that uniquely dreamy mental condition one associates with Cubans. I chuckled a bit thinking of another somewhat rough long Cuban panetela, the Por Larrañaga Montecarlos Deliciosos (33 x 159mm), often very crudely assembled but an enjoyable Cuban smoke & a terrific bargain, under € 6 when I've been able to find one.
For a refined cigar in this vitola, one would look to this Monte's sisters, either the Cohiba Coronas Especiales or the Davidoff No 2 ... but for its price the Montecristo Especiales No 2 has its place despite the rough edges and flavour fade. It struck me as a good long cigar to light when you have some big project, a long report to do or some numbers to crunch, and you just need to relax your mind with some Cuban tobacco whilst not worrying about the funny-looking ash ears at the end of your stogie.