May 8, 2018
Origin : Cuba
Size : 5 5/8″ x 42 ring gauge (142mm x 16.67mm)
Format : Corona
Price : ~ € 12,00 / $ 14.75
Draw : [rating:5/6]
Burn : [rating:4/6]
Flavour : [rating:4/6]
Aroma : [rating:4/6]
strength : [rating:4/6]
The Montecristo No 3 is a classic Cuban full-length Corona, providing superbly consistent rich flavour and smoking progression, along with good cigar strength. More flavourful than refined, this satisfying stick is sadly at a price disadvantage versus its best-selling but less consistent little sister, the Montecristo No 4.
The Monte No 3 is the centre item in a key piece of cigar history, the original Montecristo line of 5 cigars – four coronas and a pyramid – which changed the cigar world after Montecristo’s founding in 1935. In some recent years, Montecristos are known to have been more than 25 per cent of all Habanos cigars sold around the world.
With their flavour richness and quality, Montecristos not only became a premium Cuban name, they are credited with making the straight-sided, round-head or ‘parejo’ shape the dominant cigar format, versus the double figurado or ‘perfecto’ stick – fatter in the middle – which was more common in older cigar catalogues. Montecristo made the straight-sided cigar seem the more elegant and refined choice.
The corona thickness was dominant in cigars for much of the 20th century, and we see this reflected in several classic cigar line-ups – the original 5 numbered Montecristos (4 coronas and a pyramid); the Davidoff Grand Cru series (5 coronas); and even the Cohiba Siglo line (5 coronas and a robusto extra).
The Montecristo No 3, for all its virtues, is neglected today due to a pricing anomaly. It is only 13mm (half an inch) longer than the Montecristo No 4 (42 x 129), the best-selling Cuban cigar in the world. But in my neighbourhood, tho the Monte No 4 is priced at about 9 euros, the Monte No 3 is at 12 euros – a 10% longer stick, but 25% more in price. On the other hand, for a tiny bit more, at €13,50, shops in my area give you a glorious 6 1/2″ Montecristo No 1 Lonsdale (42 x 165). So the price-point on the Monte No 3 seems odd and discouraging.
Some say, though, that the odd pricing helps make the Montecristo No 3 to be a better and more consistent cigar, given it is produced in much lower quantities, and perhaps mostly or entirely at the same cigar-rolling factory. The lower-price Monte No 4 Mareva, is rolled at a number of different Cuban factories to meet demand, and is well-known for being usually very good, but somewhat unpredictable, as a result.
And besides the consistency, there is just the fact that a roughly 5 1/2″ corona – the classic ‘full-size’ corona such as the Montecristo No 3 – can simply look right and feel right for your just-short-of-an-hour smoking session.
There is always a great set of flavours in a Montecristo No 3, tho the particular way they cycle through the smoke can vary from stick to stick. But it is never dull, always with good flavour and well-paced progression. It tends to be a fine-looking cigar too, with a smooth, well-chosen wrapper, and I have not seen draw problems with any No 3.
Aroma from the end here, included a sense of honey in the air above the base of tobacco sweetness. Pre-draw was honey and pepper. Lighting introduced the classic rich, darker-toned Montecristo flavours, with the echoes of espresso coffee and a touch of cocoa. Soon some strong cedar tones came in, and bits of spice that seemed to catch fire, tingling the back of the throat as well as the nostrils.
Flavour changes are frequent and interesting with the No 3. For a time here there was also some sense of a starchy, rather potato flavour, then some roasted vegetables, moving to a kind of toasty hay filling the nose, all quite enjoyable. The flavours are rich, but not all that subtle or refined – and thus the Monte No 3 is a great complement to your drink of choice, even a strong one.
In the middle third there came more of that sensation of spice on fire in the frying pan, and the stick began to flirt with the edge of harshness, tho that was easily managed, by slightly easing on the puffs, and an occasional cigar purge (exhaling through the cigar).
Strength of the cigar was pleasing. These Montecristos are rated ‘medium to full’ or 4 out of 5 on the Habanos strength scale, and that seems right. As the headiness compounded in the middle, the flavour eased slightly to make room for it, and at points a kind of creaminess filled the moments between other flavour surges. Pepper came in and out. The end of the middle third had a kind of flavour peak matched with the accumulating strength, very satisfying.
With this particular stick, the ash was not so elegant, flat-faced and falling off early, tho burn was fairly even.
The final third continued with an eased level of flavour whilst one enjoyed the strength and variety of the cigar. Here some roasted nuts and honey showed, along with more creamy moments. The Monte No 3 is not a cigar for the nub; all the rich flavours rather catch up with it, and the potential harshness finally expands towards the end.
The complaint one might make here, is that the Montecristo No 3 is not really a refined cigar, given what one could experience in this higher Cuban price range. If one is spending this kind of tariff on a Cuban corona, there is a good argument to prefer, at a very slightly higher price, a Cohiba Siglo II Mareva (42 x 129), or the curly-cap Trinidad Coloniales (44 x 132), both of which are elegant cigars of great subtlety. Tho neither is as strong as the Montecristo No 3, which has a certain ‘fire and punch’ to it despite being on a lower level in the subtlety sweepstakes.
In the end, the Montecristo No 3 is a very satisfying, enjoyable, very good tho not really high-end-great cigar, which would be even more super if Habanos could notch down the price a little to reflect how it is closer in size to the Monte No 4 Mareva than the Monte No 1 Lonsdale.
But with the Montecristo No 3 full-length corona, you can feel thrown back in time to that era of say the 1950s, when the corona was king, Montecristo was the great Cuban name, and the rich Monte flavour was there to round off a gentleman’s evening.
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