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Staff Reviews

Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua #2 Staff Review

Zack D. D's picture

Zack D.

A few weeks ago, Cigar Aficionado published their annual list of the ‘Top 25 Cigars of the Year’ for 2021, and Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua scored 95 points with a ‘#2 Cigar of the Year’ ranking for the No. 2, a classic Torpedo just over 6 inches long with a 52 ring gauge, and I’m smoking it.

The original Cuban Montecristo No. 2 is one of the most famous cigars in the world. The Dominican Montecristo No. 2, though milder, enjoys a massive audience as well. Aficionados obsess over how to spot a fake versus a real Cuban Montecristo, but the Montecristos made in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua are real.  And you’ll find the iconic No. 2 size in almost every Montecristo blend that’s made by Altadis U.S.A., the parent company of the non-Cuban Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta brands sold in the States. Now that we’ve got a critically acclaimed Nicaraguan Montecristo in the mix, let’s smoke it and see if it lives up to the hype.

Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua is packaged in stately boxes of 10 cigars, each fitted with a shiny gold and black cigar band. The blend is Nicaraguan inside and out, including its rustic, milk-chocolate-brown wrapper leaf which comes to a medium-sharp point at the head of the soft-box-pressed Torpedo I’m about to cut and smoke. A few thick veins poke up from the surface of the wrapper while notes of raisins, barnyard, leather, molasses, wood, and roasted nuts characterize the cigar’s aroma when I pull a fresh No. 2 from the box. I taste hints of sweetened coffee, cedar, and rose hips in the cold draw.  

Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua debuted at the end of 2020 and was blended by rising cigar-maker AJ Fernandez to commemorate the brand’s 85th anniversary. Altadis U.S.A. has tapped AJ to make several Cuban-legacy cigars in recent years, including Montecristo AJ Fernandez and Montecristo Nicaragua. Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua is noticeably spicier than the others as I toast the foot and begin puffing. It’s not quite as intense as accidentally inhaling some powder when you’re refilling the pepper shaker, but it does sting my beak on the retro-hale.

My eyes tear for a second, but the profile eases up a bit when notes of leather, oak, and espresso balance out the cigar’s spicier flavor. Notes of bell pepper, baking spices, and milk chocolate mingle throughout the first half. Thankfully, ample flavors of molasses and roasted nuts save the cigar from overwhelming my senses with its somewhat abrasive, peppery aftertaste.

The Torpedo burns perfectly and draws effortlessly, leaving a strong white ash behind. I haven’t had to touch up the foot after more than thirty-five minutes of smoking, and I’m able to extract abundant clouds of fluffy smoke with ease in every puff. As slip the band off and prepare to devour the nub, it’s apparent I’m smoking a tapered shape, as the heat and nicotine reach elevated levels in the span of a minute or two. Luckily, I’m a seasoned cigar smoker. I can handle some pretty strong cigars, so I know how to avoid becoming nauseous by eating before I smoke, but if I was a beginner, I would easily be green by now. The concentration of heat requires a little extra caution, too, as I pinch the final inch in my fingers.  

The 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua blend from Montecristo finishes with a hot and spicy bang. I think I get why the critics like this cigar. It celebrates an important milestone in the history of Montecristo cigars, and because it’s blended by AJ Fernandez, it offers something different from the traditionally mild Dominican Montecristo cigars I’ve reviewed. Based on flavor and smokability, I’d give this blend 90 points without a doubt.

But at more than $16 per cigar, I’m knocking it back a point, to 89, for being egregiously overpriced. It’s not a bad cigar, but it’s expensive for what it is. Plenty of the best AJ Fernandez cigars for around $8 have already exceeded my expectations. When samplers like AJ Fernandez ‘The Franchise’ Monster Deal include 20 premium AJ Fernandez cigars for under five bucks apiece, these Nicaraguan Montes have some tough competition, considering they’re made in the same factory. Nonetheless, if you’re a fan of Montecristo, AJ Fernandez, or Nicaraguan cigars in general, the 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua is worth smoking. I’d be curious to know if it floats your boat and how much you would spend to get one.


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