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Stogie Reviews: Montecristo 75th Aniversario Lancero

15 Feb 2010

Every cigar has a story. This one is no exception, and it starts way back in 1935.

Montecristo 75th Aniversario LanceroThat was the year Alonso Menéndez founded Montecristo at the Particulares Factory in Havana. A quarter century later, like so many outstanding cigar makers who resented his government’s takeover of the industry, he fled the island to take his popular brand beyond the reach of the Cuban Revolution.

His first stop was the Canary Islands. But Habanos SA, Cuba’s state-owned tobacco monopoly, slammed him with copyright litigation. Cuba had, of course, confiscated Menéndez’s trademark and continued production under the Montecristo name to capitalize on its reputation. So he moved again in the mid-1970s, this time to La Romana in the Dominican Republic. This new location would enable him to sell directly to the U.S. market—where Cuba’s rights to the brand aren’t recognized.

Now owned by Altadis, Montecristo is celebrating 75 years since it was established in Cuba. This occasion, of course, calls for a special Aniversario blend, which was introduced at the IPCPR Trade Show in New Orleans last summer.

The new Montecristo 75th Aniversario line is handmade at the Tabacalera de García factory under the watchful eye of master blender José Seijas. Available in five vitolas with suggested retail prices ranging from $10 to $18.50 apiece, this “super-premium” features a dark Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and a filler blend of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos.

The Lancero (7.5 x 40) starts with a heavy, chalky flavor that’s both spicy and abrasive. Quickly, however, it transitions into a smoother, earthier profile of cocoa and dark chocolate. This is a nice, albeit familiar, taste that’s satisfying on the palate.

Moving past the first inch, the biggest surprise from the 75th Aniversario is that there aren’t any surprises. This 100-minute smoke is amazingly straightforward and consistent in flavor all the way to the nub. If you’re really into the way it tastes, you’ll love it; if you aren’t enthralled, you’ll likely find the Lancero a bit monotonous—even towards the end when it becomes meatier and the finish takes on a peppery spice.

What you won’t find are any problems in construction. The slow burn is perfectly straight, the gray ash holds well, and the draw has just a bit of resistance. This is exactly the way you’d expect a cigar that sells for $15 apiece to smoke.

I remain unconvinced, however, that the flavor profile is worth the cost. At $7, yeah, I could make an easy recommendation. But this price level requires more complexity and development. So, while I enjoyed the two Lanceros I smoked for this review, I can’t give them a rating higher than three and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

3 Responses to “Stogie Reviews: Montecristo 75th Aniversario Lancero”

  1. dmjones Monday, February 15, 2010 at 4:09 am #

    Two Altadis products in a row? How much are they paying you? 😉

    Seriously, though, you hit on the key quality of pretty much every Altadis Montecristo I've smoked (probably about 6 or 8): good, but not complex or interesting enough to warrant the price they want. Unfortunately, I think Altadis trades on the fact that when novice or occasional smokers think "Montecristo" they imagine the Cuban variety and make purchases based on the assumption that this may be something like that. I can't remember the last time I saw a cigar enthusiast smoking an Altadis Monte…unless it was a freebie.

  2. Patrick A Monday, February 15, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    Altadis must not be paying us enough given the less-than-glowing verdicts on these two cigars…

  3. dmjones Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    Funny thing is, your reviews weren't really any better than those in the magazine everyone loves to hate. They do much better in "Cigar" magazine (which happens to be owned by the same corporate parent of Altadis).