Origin : Cuba
Format : Maravillas No.3 [Robusto Extra]
Size : 55 x 155 mm (6.1 in)
Released in : 2012
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.