If you follow Cigar Coop, you have probably noticed we have greatly reduced coverage of single-store and event-only cigar releases. While I understand the importance of these releases in terms of manufacturer and retailer relationships, the interest levels simply have not been there with our audience. There still are some attractive candidates to cover, and one of them was a release that Altadis USA did with Smoke Inn for the retailer’s “The Great Smoke” event – and that was a special limited edition exclusive Montecristo cigar. Montecristo is one of the most iconic brands out there, and Smoke Inn has done an excellent job with its exclusives from manufacturers. In this case, it was a no-brainer to cover this release. That cigar was dubbed the Montecristo Nicaragua Series – The Great Smoke (TGS) 2023 Exclusive. The cigar was originally a limited release made available exclusively to attendees of the 2023 edition of the Great Smoke. After the event, the remainder of the cigars were made available exclusively through Smoke Inn. Today, we take a look at the Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS Exclusive.
In terms of the project, it is described as an extension to the current Montecristo Nicaragua Series. The original Montecristo Nicaragua Series is a regular production line in the Altadis USA portfolio. It is a Nicaraguan cigar made in Nicaragua at AJ Fernandez’s factory. Like the original Montecristo Nicaragua Series, the Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive is a collaboration between Fernandez and Altadis USA’s Rafael Nodal.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
While the Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive is a Nicaraguan puro, the specifics of the blend and how it differs from the regular production Montecristo Nicaragua Series have not been disclosed.
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
The Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive is offered in one size – a 6 x 52 Toro. The cigars are presented in nine-count boxes. A total of 300 boxes were produced. Smoke Inn has also been selling the Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive in five-packs.
The Nicaraguan wrapper of the Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive had a milk chocolate color. This was definitely one of the darker wrappers I’ve seen on a Montecristo cigar. Upon closer examination, there was some subtle mottling. There also was a very light sheen of oil on the surface. The surface of the wrapper had some visible wrapper seams as well as some thin visible veins.
Prior to lighting up the Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive, a straight cut was used to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, it was time to commence with the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered notes of cedar, natural tobacco, and cocoa. Overall, this was a satisfactory pre-light draw experience. At this point, it was time to toast up the Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive footer and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive opened with sweet cedar and natural tobacco notes. Early on the cedar and natural tobacco became the primary notes. I usually do not like dominant cedar, but the cedar and natural tobacco had a nice synergy. Citrus, black pepper, and coffee bean notes also surfaced in the background. Later, there were some notes of chocolate that also emerged, as well as additional layers of black pepper and cedar.
The second third of the Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive saw the cedar notes slowly push the natural tobacco into the background and take over as the primary note. The natural tobacco joined the citrus, black pepper, and coffee bean notes. The chocolate notes that were present early on dissipated by the midway point. During this stage, the background notes completed the cedar quite well.
The final third saw the cedar increase in intensity. Now, the cigar took more of a cedar-forward profile, and the cigar lost some of the synergy of the flavors. There still were notes of citrus, black pepper, and coffee bean, but the cedar notes eclipsed them. As the Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive came to a close, it finished with a soft, cool nub.
The burn of the Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive performed quite well. This cigar maintained a straight burn path and straight burn line with minimal touch-ups. The resulting ash was a medium to dark gray. This wasn’t the firmest ash, but it wasn’t loose nor flaky either. Meanwhile, the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw of the Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive also performed quite well. It had a touch of resistance to it – which, if you have read my assessments, you know is a personal preference of mine. At the same time, this was a low-maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
The Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive started out with medium and medium strength. There was an increase in the intensity levels of both attributes, but in the end, the Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive stayed in the medium range for strength and body. Both the strength and body balanced each other nicely, with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
BANDING AND PACKAGING NOTES
I was pleased with the banding and packaging of the Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive. The cigar uses the same primary band as the regular production Montecristo Nicaragua Series. The difference is that this cigar uses a different secondary band, indicating it is THE GREAT SMOKE edition. I found the nine-count boxes to be unusual. I can’t think of many cigars are packed in nine-count boxes.
While the boxes aren’t overly elaborate for a Montecristo, I still found them pleasing and do the brand justice.
The Montecristo Nicaragua Series TGS 2023 Exclusive delivered a solid smoking experience. For the first two-thirds, this is where the flavors really shined. The cigar didn’t score quite as well when the final third became more cedar-forward. And it had a different profile than the regular production Montecristo Nicaragua Series. This isn’t quintessential Montecristo, but it shows another side of Montecristo. I’d be curious to see if this cigar returns as another installment of the Montecristo Nicaragua Series regularly – and I’m also interested to see how this performs in a different vitola. Ultimately, this is a cigar that will most likely have to be purchased in five-count packs ($82.50) or nine-count boxes ($165.00). Since this is not an inexpensive proposition, my recommendation is if there is any way to try a sample, then do so.
Key Flavors: Cedar, Natural Tobacco, Citrus, Coffee Bean, Chocolate, Pepper
Finish: Very Good
Value: Try a Sample
Price: $165.00 (Nine Count Box)
Brand Reference: Montecristo
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop