Montecristo 520 Limited Edition 2012

Montecristo 520 Limited Edition 2012

MontecristoOrigin : Cuba
Format : Maravillas No.3 [Robusto Extra]
Size : 55 x 155 mm (6.1 in)
Released in : 2012
Hand-Made
Price : ~12.80 Cuban Pesos (~$46.00 Canada)
More info about purchasing Montecristo cigars...

The Montecristo 520 Limited Edition 2012 is one of the 3 limited edition cigars announced at the 2012 Habanos Festival and was the last one to be released. The name comes from the 520th year anniversary of the discovery of tobacco in Cuba. The wrapper, filler and binder have been aged for a period of at least 2 years. My sample had a June 2012 production date box code. The Ediciones Limitadas are made with the finest tobacco leaves coming from Vuelta Abajo region, considered to be the best tobacco growing region in Cuba.

Appearance : ★★★★★ (4.75)
The Monte 520 is a big, heavy cigar wrapped in a dark brown leaf that almost resembles a Colorado Maduro. It has some visible veining and the seams are very tight and barely visible. The triple cap is nicely applied and the cigar has the familiar Montecristo band and the secondary gold Limited Ediction band. There were some rustic nuances to the overall appearance with some minor imperfections on the wrapper. The wrapper dressing this cigar and other Limited Editions comes from the top leaves of the Tapado which is a shade grown black Cuban tobacco plant. It is a relevant characteristic that identifies these releases. This wrapper is usually darker than the wrappers of regular range sizes of the brand but it’s not a maduro.

Montecristo 520

Construction : ★★★★½
The aged tobacco in this cigar allows it to be smoked right out of the box. However, as with all Habanos, a little time in the humidor, if you have the patience, will do it wonders.

Montecristo 520 Foot

The Montecristo 520 is heavy and packed with tobacco. As you can see in the image of the foot, they certainly used a lot of tobacco for this cigar but this is not always a good thing. I found the draw somewhat tight and at times struggled to get good smoke output but to be frank, for the most part the smoke output was good. The burn was very impressive. Due to the tight draw I did find myself needing to re-light it again just beyond the half-way mark.

I’ve read reviews indicating the draw was very loose considering the amount of tobacco but I found exactly the opposite. The draw on mine was very tight. The ash was firm, not flakey and held on for a good 2 inches before falling off.

Flavor : ★★★½☆
The pre-light aroma had nice hints of cocoa, coffee and sweet cedar. The pre-light draw, while tight, revealed some hints of sweet wood, cocoa, leather and a hint of pepper.

The first third of the cigar was really tough to draw on. As a result, some of the flavors were a tad muted from the get go and the smoke output was not very rich. It took a couple of centimetres to get some of the young cigar flavors out of the way but once they did, the cigar started to taste really nice; not spectacular but enjoyable. The smoke itself wasn’t a velvety creamy smoke but a drier smoke with not much residue on the palate. The cigar had some nice cocoa, leather and chocolate flavors with sweet oak and earthy undertones and spice on the finish.

By the time I reached the second third, the cigar opened up a bit more and started to come into its own. The draw loosened up a bit and the flavors became more intense. I got some woodsy and grassy notes with cocoa and coffee flavors becoming a little richer. The earthiness of the cigar was prominent but it did have some pleasant and rich cocoa and coffee flavors to help balance it out. The pepper on the finish remained and the finish was still medium with pepper lingering at the back of the palate. This unfortunately did not last long.

The second third of the cigar unfortunately started to weaken in flavor until around the halfway point where I got some honey line sweetness and some slight citrus/tea flavor. I expected to get more flavour from this behemoth of a cigar but as the cigar went on, I just got more of the same apart from this burst around the halfway mark. I got very little in the way of flavor transition, complexity or richness. The smoke remained dry and the flavors remained pretty much the same. Coffee, cocoa, leather and hints of sweet wood were the primary flavors. There was a hint of salt on the lips but not that salty “twang” that we normally get from Cuban cigars. The peppery finish remained though.

The final third offered more of the same. Primarily sweet wood, earthy and grassy flavors with the occasional bursts of cocoa and semi-sweet coffee. A little bitterness that I likened to dark unsweetened chocolate entered the profile in the final third and while it wasn’t constant, there were enough bitter puffs for me to take note. The draw remained quite tight and smoking this giant was really starting to become a struggle. Having to take double puffs to get a good mouthful of smoke is not what I prefer. This causes the cigar to burn hotter and can really impact the flavors. I tried to keep it slow but by doing so, I needed to re-light the cigar after the halfway point.

Value : ★☆☆☆☆
It sells in Cuba for approximately 14 Cuban Pesos. I have found it at some duty free Canadian retailers from approximately $28.50 (which is where mine were purchased from). However, I called up 3 local cigar shops in my area and found that they pretty much retailed at between $45.99 to $49.99 (Canada is heavily taxed on tobacco products). There is no way I can recommend this cigar at that price because quite frankly I was somewhat unimpressed with the cigar. Being a limited edition, I expected more but instead, got a cigar with uninspiring flavors and, at times, a struggle to smoke because of the draw. When assessing value I often ask myself a simple question. Would I personally spend money on another one of these cigars and my answer is a resounding no. There are better cigars for the money and if you are truly a fan of Limited Edition releases, I suggest you give the 2012 H. Upmann Robusto LE a try. In my opinion, it is a better constructed cigar with richer flavors.

Overall Rating : ★★★★☆ (3.75)
If you must purchase one and spend the money, go ahead. You would probably get similar flavors out of a Montecristo No. 2 with a better draw and more intensity. The 520 really didn’t stray much from the typical Montecristo flavor profile. Primarily earthy and grassy with occasional undertones of sweet wood and some cocoa, coffee and leather, the flavors were not at all anything special. This cigar may do better with a little more age and perhaps revisiting it in 3 years may be the trick with this one.

My beefs with this cigar were its poor/tight draw, the inconsistent smoke output and the extremely tough work to smoke it as a result of the draw coupled with the muted flavors. It lacked complexity and the connoisseur will definitely know they are smoking a Montecristo. The second half of the cigar certainly outshines the first half but for such a price and for such a size, I don’t want to wait that long before the cigar turns into something enjoyable.

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18 Comments on “Montecristo 520 Limited Edition 2012”

  1. Aldo Mombello says:

    This an other sample of a larger shorter cigar for which I have the same opinion that I wrote ten minutes ago about Montecristo Petit n.2.

  2. Aldo Mombello says:

    Maybe I am too old to appreciate this vitolas with big ring gauge and short lenght or maybe too “aficionado” to tradition that I don’t understand this new cigars. Nevertheless I believe in a gold standard related to my personal experience that a lenght of 12 cm or less could not have a ring gauge larger than 44-46, and for ring gauge larger than 50 16-17 cm of lenght is mandatory…

  3. Aldo, you aren’t the only one who is disgusted by the big ring cigars that arebeing forced down our throats while being told they’re the hot new trend. And I’m a young smoker at 32 with just 6 years in cigars so you aren’t alone. Most if not all regular smokers prefer robusto 50 rg max. At least manufacturers are making more coronas and c gordas, but I still black list manufacturers when they release a 6 x 60rg. Is a joke aimed at bringing in newb smokers who think they appear cool with that behemoth, and it’s an insult to the cigar tradition. End my rant.

  4. Aldo Mombello says:

    Thank a lot dear Jmj_203.
    If I can I say also that market business is determinant to induce the cuban producers to create these not equilibrate kind of cigars,
    The negative thing is that they have discontinued many vitolas de galera and de salida that are pieces of the story of cuban puros such as many lonsdales and other sizes with relative little ring gauge and lenght over 15 cm too difficult to smoke for beginners but that give great pleasure for frequent cigars smokers. I can not think that someone could consider a cigar like a “big cigarette”…..

  5. Aldo Mombello says:

    Hi, to make a logical approach about cigars too short and too large I would like introduce a rule based on the ratio ring gauge divided by lenght in practice RG/L with these results for cigars under 110 mm the gold standard should be a ratio >0,40, for cigars between 110 to 125 mm the ratio should be >0,38, for cigars between 125 to 150 mm. the ratio should be
    >0,36, for cigars over 150 mm. the ratio should be 0,34. If you try to comapared the most famous vitolas de galera this rule is well respected with some exceptions such as Robustos (ratio 0,40 for a lenght of only 124 mm.) but that are well known for their characteristics and history.

  6. I am one who doesn’t mind these type ring gauges on occasion. True a 46-50 is ideal but larger ones every so often is a nice change of pace. Getting rid of the panatelas and lanceros is a concerning trend though.

    I though this cigar was really well constructed and really nice flavors throughout. This is the best constructed LE in 2012 IMO.

    I smoked the Upmann 2012 LE and the 520 right of the truck and the 520 was way better. The Upmann was harsh and the flavors were mediocre.

    I haven’t smoked either since as I am letting them settle but for the Christmas season I will break out another 520 for sure.

  7. Brett, I found the construction on the Monte 520 to be almost perfect. No issues there.

    I just smoked a couple of the Grand Epicure 2013’s LE and my review will be up shortly. THAT was an amazing smoke but then again in fairness, we all have different palates which is why opinions vary. This cigar (Monte) was horrible, I’ve just had better.

    Cheers and thanks to everyone for the great discussion.

  8. I’m also a young smoker at 27 years old I feel like blends shine in the lancero format I don’t really like anything over a 50 RG. I wish more habanos came in the lancero format love trini fundadores and monte especiales. Wish partagas, boils, RA, and RyJ had an offering in a lancero as they are my favorite marcas!

  9. Aldo Mombello says:

    Sorry Gabe215 but Lanceros is not a vitola de galera codified shape and also is not a common name Lanceros is a vitola de salida of Cohiba brands and of other two brand but with different shape. Anyway I woul help you if you intend with the term Lanceros a cigar with a relative little RG and lengt over 16-17 cm there are many cigars in vitolas like laiguiito n.1, cervantes, dalias… also in production of Partagas, Romeo y Julieta, Ramon Allones, Montecristo and also La Gloria Cubana, Bolivar, Saint Luis Rey, Vegas Robaina, Vegueros…

  10. Aldo Mombello says:

    In my knowledge there are more than 20-25 different cigars in production with a ring gauge between 34-44 with lenght over 155-160 mm produced by several different brands with a large choice of main characters. For an example Partagas 8-9-8 varnished box, H.Upmann n.1, Vegueros n.1, Vegas Robaina Classico, Rafael Gonzales Lonsdale, RyJ Cazadores…..

  11. Thank you! I was gonna mention 8-9-8’s but I was specific to the Laguito No 1 and Laguito No 2. Thanks for your info as I said I’m 27 and only been smoking for a few years and have started really getting into Habanos for the last 8 months or so, all knowledge/experience is greatly appreciated!

  12. Aldo Mombello says:

    Laiguito n.1 and Laiguito n.2 are two vitolas with not many cigars, I’ll write here a list of “members” of two vitolas as soon as I can, there is a particular that characterize this two vitolas, the head of the cigar have the pig tail, a sort of end made with a torsion of the last leaf of capa.

  13. Aldo Mombello says:

    Laiguito No.1 38×192: Cohiba Lanceros, Diplomaticos n.6, Trinidad Grand Panatela (Fundadores the most famous Trinidad brand cigar is an other vitola named Laiguito Especial)and Vegueros Especiales.
    Laiguito No.2 38×152: Cohiba Coronas Especial, Hoyo de Monterrey: Le Hoyo du Dauphin and Le Hoyo Odeon, Montecristo Especial n.2, Vegoeros Especiales n.2.

  14. Aldo Mombello says:

    Hey Gabe215 I read your favourite brands Partagas, RA, RyJ if you say to me that you love also Bolivar and H.Upmann we have the same preferences, and we like to smoke mild… ah ah (HU a part that is composite like a pop music song by Genesis for an example) Bolivar, RA, Partagas and some cigars of RyJ, such as Cazadores, are all full strenght cigars, as hard rock songs of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, AC/DC and Pearl Jam….

  15. Purchased a box from LCDH Luxembourg several months ago and smoked one upon arrival. SHould have waited a month- but couldnt resist. While a tad young this cigar was outstanding. Perfect draw and burn. It emitted an intoxiating aroma and flavors of graham crackers and exotic spices. Was excellent first draw to last. I purchased 4 additional boxes to age as in 3 or 4 years this cigar will be second to none.

  16. Rather well done DrFever !
    And thank you.
    As you did, it’s always pretty important to set a comparaison with a vitola that would remind you the one you’re evaluating.

    However, the bad drawn on “new” puros is not merley a problem of contruction. Indeed, in Cuba when cigares are “filled” with the “tripa” (the inside) the chief of galera (kind of “tobacco communist kapo” -I’m fooling around-) wants an inside rather thick which will fade away in time to time because of the loss of water inside the leaves with normal evaporation.

    So what to do ? As you underligned for the quality allow some time and it will get better.

  17. Thx for review. I spent last few days lamenting that I didn’t get some when I bought Monte 2s. The ones I saw were mega money

  18. My review of the Montecristo 520 (2012 Limited Edition)

    The 520 has a massive 55 ring gauge and is 6.1″ long, a new size called “Maravilla No.3″, which follows the current trend of big, thick vitolas. Although I am not a fan of Montecristo cigars, nor jaw stretching vitolas, I am expecting this to be as good as the most recent Montecristo Limitadas, which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

    Montecristo 520

    The 520 has a smooth and shiny wrapper, which has some prominent veins. The bunch is firm and consistent throughout and the cap is a little sloppy. Strong aromas of coffee and earth emerge from the foot of the cigar and the prelight draw is good. Time to light it up…

    After taking a couple of puffs, I have to stop because I can feel my eyes watering. For a moment, it feels like this cigar was stuffed with ground pepper, which is now boiling on my tongue! Its almost aggressive… I put it to rest for a few seconds, while trying to register the distressed signals my palate is sending me! Is it good spice or bad spice? I am not sure yet, but it feels like tasting a vindaloo dish; it tastes great, but you don’t know whether to take another bite or make a run to the nearest water tap! After my mouth has managed to escape the pepper hurricane, I can feel a nice, salty aftertaste. Time for another bite…

    Montecristo 520

    It doesn’t feel as strong any more. I hope it has calmed down, or else it has damaged my tastebuds beyond repair. The pepper is still there, but not as strong as before, leaving some room for flavours of cedar and coffee to emerge. The aftertaste is still long and lingering, with a creamy, salty flavour. The draw is perfect and the 520 produces more smoke than my attic window can extract.

    30 minutes have passed and my tongue is still a little bit tender. The 520 has now calmed down even more, releasing an array of flavours; earth, coffee, cedar, a little chocolate and some pepper reminiscent. The smoothness of the Montecristo Limitadas has also started to appear, making the flavours more creamy and s0othing. The body is still medium to full and there is no worries at all with the draw and burn. The ash is light grey in colour and reaches more than an inch in length before falling off, crumbling on top my keyboard as usual…

    In the final third, the 520 gets a little bit of edge. The sweet chocolatey flavours are hardly noticeable, while earth and coffee have taken the stage. The finish is a little bitter and has a touch of ammonia, but I wouldn’t say that it is unpleasant yet. Towards the end it does require some frequent touch ups tho, which also affect the flavour. 2 hours after lighting it up and its time to be put to sleep.

    Although it caught me by surprise on the beginning, I did enjoy the 520. As I have said before, the Montecristo standard flavour profile wouldn’t be my cup of tea. However, the aged tobacco used for the limitadas seems to work wonders for me… The 520 reminds me of the Montecristo Sublime and Gran Edmundo; rich and strong, but yet smooth and creamy.

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