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Cuban Cigars

Famous Cuban Cigars: Montecristo No. 2

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

The Montecristo No. 2 is the most iconic Cuban cigar. There, I said it. No, the Cohiba is not. The Cohiba, I would argue, is a super-famous Cuban cigar, but is something apart. The Montecristo No. 2 is the best and the most widely recognized exemplar of the traditional, medium-bodied Cuban cigar. It is widely considered the best-selling Cuban cigar in the world.

THE MONTECRISTO NO. 2 FLAVOR BOMB

The Montecristo is easily the most popular cigar of a most legendary Cuban brand. The Monte 2, as it’s commonly referred to, is technically a Pyramid vitola, but often called a Torpedo. Call it what you will, it is in the Figurado family of cigars that are not straight from head to foot. The taper at the head makes the 6.125 x 52 Montecristo No. 2 easy to hold between your lips and savor smoke that, when the cigar is right, full of deep coffee notes and earthiness. But the flavor is balanced by significant floral and cedar notes.

BE CAREFUL

The Montecristo No. 2 is simply one of my favorite Cuban cigars. That said, and I have lived this, there can sometimes be problems. As there have been with many Cuban brands. Even when you buy from a reputable shop. In 2000, I bought a box of Montecristo No. 2s from a cigar shop in Hong Kong. I was on my way to Singapore, where, at least at the time, there wasn’t much of a cigar culture. When I opened the box to share with some friends, the color of the top row of cigars varied tremendously. We picked three of the best looking cigars, the ones with a toasty brown wrapper, and enjoyed them. They tasted okay, perhaps a bit young. When I returned to Hong Kong the following week, I took them back to the shop and received a full exchange for another box. This one I opened in the shop. It turned out fine. Buying Cuban cigars lesson number one learned yet again.

A LITTLE BROTHER

In 2013, capitalizing on the popularity of the Montecristo No. 2, Habanos introduced the Montecristo Petit No. 2, 4.75 x 52. This is generally considered a Belicoso because of its length. This is a delicious cigar and offers more flexibility if you don’t have the time to smoke the original Montecristo No. 2. The ones I’ve recently smoked are, again, solidly medium in power, but they were a bit toastier and nutty with some citrus and ultimately some sweetness.

BUYING THE MONTECRISTO NO. 2

At the venerable James J. Fox tobacco shop in London, the Montecristo No. 2 sells for about US$39. You can find it for around US$350 for a box of 25 in many duty free shops. Buy this cigar on the ground in Mexico, and it’s more than $18 at its most reasonably priced. The Montecristo Petit No. 2 goes for about US31.50 in London. I’ve seen this cigar in boxes of 10 for about US$110. 

BEWARE

One alert. Do not buy the Montecristo Especial No. 2 if you’re looking for the classic. The especial is a Panetela, 6 x 38, and runs about US$19 in London. I don’t really understand why it’s called a No. 2, but it could cause some confusion. You are warned.

A LITTLE HISTORY

The Montecristo cigar was launched in 1935 in Cuba. The name comes from the novel written by Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo. Monte Cristo means mountain of Christ. Today, in addition to the Montecristo No. 2, the brand boasts the Montecristo Linea Dumas, named for the author.

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