Connoisseur's Corner: A Massive Montecristo Scores 98 Points
(From the April 2012 issue of Cigar Aficionado) Unlike fine wines, which are typically the product of one vintage year, most great cigars are made by blending tobacco from different crops. While that alone makes vintage dating harder to determine in the cigar industry, there are years that are known for higher quality than others. We smoked four cigars from the late 1980s and early 1990s, particularly superb years for Havana smokes, and were quite smitten with the results. A massive Montecristo “A” from 1991 was the most stunning, at 98 points, followed closely by a 1990 Romeo y Julieta Churchill at 97. If you should encounter Cuban cigars from these years, buy them without worry, as you are likely to be quite satisfied with the results. For more on Cuba’s years to seek out and those to avoid, see our Cuba Report.
Montecristo “A” (1991)
A gorgeous cigar with a brown, silky wrapper. No other words for it—just impressive. From its nine-inch length to its perfect smoking performance, this cigar delivers a smooth taste filled with coffee, light leather and a long, white pepper finish.
Romeo Y Julieta Churchill (1990)
This cigar comes from the heyday of the Cuban cigar industry, and has always been one of my favorites. It’s beginning to show some aged qualities, with just a light touch of flintiness on the finish, but it is packed with dark chocolate flavors, and a rich finish.
Padrón Millennium (2000)
This even-colored maduro is beautifully pressed with superb construction. The smoke is nuanced and elegant. Hickory wood pairs nicely with hints of caramel and coffee, gaining intensity as it burns down, finishing with a rich core of caramel.
Punch Punch (1991)
This cigar is at its peak right now. If you’ve got them, smoke them. It is a wonderful balance of leather with hints of pencil lead on the finish. It has a bit of a firm draw, but burns perfectly.
Davidoff Château Margaux (1989)
This cigar is aging well and is beginning to mellow out some of the powerful characteristics of its youth. It has some pleasant tea notes and a light woodiness, and performs almost perfectly.
Montecristo No. 1 (1959)
A beautifully aged, pre-Castro cigar. This is one of the classic sizes of the Cuban cigar industry, a londsale size. It has smoothed out to become a light-bodied, somewhat peppery smoke, with a great draw and burn.
–Marvin R. Shanken