Cigar Aficionado

Havana Corner: Smoking Edmundo in Milano

The launch of the Montecristo Edmundo may be one of the most anticipated events in a long time in the Cuban cigar world, considering that just about everyone I spoke to in the last month who was interested in Habanos seemed to want to smoke one. So, it wasn't a surprise that the five people at my table during the launch dinner of the new vitola on Sunday night in Milan could barely hold themselves back as we waited for close to two hours to finally light one of the big smokes. There were just too many awards, plates of food and glasses of wine to get through before the Edmundos arrived at the table.

The 400 or so guests were elegantly dressed and in a festive mood from the good smokes, tasty food and fresh wines served at the Villa Torreta hotel on the outskirts of the city. There was also plenty of live Cuban music as well as a Havana-produced video describing the launch of the new Montecristo size. Italian importer Diadema Spa of Genoa, the exclusive distributor of Cuban cigars in Italy, organized the dinner as well as various other events during the day, which is billed as "Habanos Day."

Andrea Vincenzi, president of Diadema, told the crowd that the Edmundo "was the first new size for Montecristo in the last 30 years." In fact, I think it might be more like 40 years. The most recent commercial launch of a new size -- not including smokes found in special humidors -- was the slender Montecristo No. 1 and No. 2 in the late 1960s.

In any case, you are going to love the Edmundo size. It's like a super robusto, measuring about 52 ring gauge (slightly thicker than a robusto) by about 5 3/8 inches long (and slightly longer). It's a shorter rendition of what I think is one of the best new cigars from the island, the Cohiba Siglo VI. Unfortunately, the Edmundo does not have the richness or class of the Siglo VI.

I smoked about eight Edmundos during the Milan event, and I only found one that reminded me of the same cigars I smoked earlier this year in Havana. The keen cigar smokers around me were passing around their Edmundos like a fine joint, with everyone commenting on the differences in the particular cigars smoked! There was a big difference between one and another. Some were excellent, others rather raw and unbalanced.

The best Edmundos I have smoked this year have a wonderful cedar, tea and almost vanilla aroma and flavor, with a medium body and a fresh aftertaste. I stick with my score of 92 points -- even if my neighbor at the Milan dinner harshly compared his Edmundo to a giant cigarette.

I have seen this before. The cigars were made at the Partagas factory last autumn and boxed in December. They arrived in Genoa, Italy, only a month ago. So I suspect they were simply too young. The same was true for many who attended a launch of the new Trinidad sizes last autumn in London. They found them harsh and of poor quality. But I have since been smoking the new sizes -- the Reyes (4 3/4 inches by 40 ring gauge), Coloniales (5 1/4 inches by 44 ring gauge) and Robusto Extra (6 1/8 inches by 50 ring gauge) -- and one of the latter, which I smoked during a seminar I co-hosted for Trinidad during the afternoon of Habanos Day, was sublime: refined, sweet and refreshing.

In any case, the Edmundo should still be a great success and I plan to buy some. I love the size, and the cigars should be substantially less expensive than the Cohiba Siglo VI. In fact, Italy is planning to offer the Edmundo at a very attractive price, 10.50 euros a stick (or about $12.60). This should be less than the price of the cigar in Switzerland or France, said Vincenzi. Some retailers on the web were selling them for about $400 to $500 a box!

The Milan launch of the brand was the fourth party in Europe for Edmundo. The Cubans had already visited France, England and Germany. And they were planning on doing the same in Spain a few days later and then to Lebanon in July. Regardless of some of the negative comments about the cigars we smoked in Milan, I am positive about the potential success of the new size. Moreover, the Montecristo brand needed a good kick in the pants after decades of doing nothing new.

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Posted: Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Enter Edmundo

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