Back in 2018, Altidas U.S.A. announced they would be releasing an exclusive cigar to the members of the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA) for the 50 year anniversary of the association. The company made the choice to reach into its vault of classic cigars and blends and chose a cigar that they released two years earlier in 2016. The cigar, the Montecristo Artisan Series Batch 1, was the first in a series of limited edition cigars that used ultra rare tobaccos in the company’s private stock.
The more interesting aspect of the Montecristo Artisan Series cigar is that different groups of Maestros blend different cigars in the series and then the best part is, one experienced bunchero and one master rolero are assigned to one cigar in the series. This way quality is assured. For the TAA Exclusive project, the company produced 50,000 (6 x 54) toros, that were packaged in 15-count boxes and carry an MSRP of $21.00/cigar.
The blend for this cigar is the same as the original 2016 release and is described as:
- Wrapper – Ecuadorian habano
- Binder – Dominican
- Filler – Dominican and Honduran
For this review, I sampled one Montecristo Artisan Series TAA Exclusive that I purchased from Ambassador Cigars and Spirits in Troy, MI as part of the Stogie Press 2020 mission to Help Keep The Lights On.
The Montecristo Artisan Series TAA Exclusive is a medium to dark brown cigar that is a slightly veiny with a mild oily sheen. It is solidly packed and heavy in the hand. A decently applied cap finishes the construction.
Three bands brand the cigar. The primary band uses a cream, brown, and gold motif. The standard Montecristo logo is printed across the top in what resembles the brands cigar ring. On the bottom “ARTISAN SERIES” is printed in gold on the cream background along with golden word “MONTECRISTO” printed on the left and right. The secondary band is placed just below and displays the TAA 50th anniversary logo and “2018 TAA Exclusive”.
A third footer band is applied using the same motif, and describes this as the “ARTISAN SERIES” in gold along with the company’s logo to the left and right. The footer also includes a flap on the bottom that it uses to cover the foot of the cigar using the company’s circular logo.
Running the cigar along the nose, I detected enticing sweet and spicy notes along the barrel, while the foot exuded fresh and invigorating baking spice notes. This really did smell like opening the spice cabinet in my kitchen.
I used my LOTUS double blade cutter to perfectly slice the cap straight across the shoulder of the cigar. I proceeded to take some cold draw puffs, that were spot on with restriction and offered a unique orange honey and pepper spice set of notes.
The cold draw peaked my interest and I quickly moved to warming the foot with my Bugatti Mirage double flame torch lighter and drew in the first puffs that were an introduction to the complexity this cigar may be offering. Follow along as I burn this one to ash, inch my inch.
Cigar Review Notes
- Honey with hints of chocolate and cedar start the journey
- White ash forms on a jagged, thick char line
- Citrus floral aroma add the enjoyment
- Orange notes join the profile
- Off burn developed that required a touch up
- Off centered cone
- Caramel notes enter midway
- Earthy and citrus notes build near the end of the second third
- Moving into the final third, a mild spice and sweetness finish the journey
- Medium in Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 35 minutes
Overall, the Montecristo Artisan Series TAA Exclusive was a uniquely flavorful cigar, especially with the orange and chocolate notes to start. The flavors and aromas continued to develop, down to the nub, keeping my palate interested through the journey.
Where this one gets dinged is in the the burn. It started with a mild jag that eventually developed into an off burn that required a touch up to get it back on the rails. It also had an off centered burn cone when the ash fell. With the price point on this, you may want to check one out. I rate this an 89.
Point Deductions: (-1) Jagged Burn; (-1) Off Burn; (-1) Touch Up Required; (-1)Off Centered Burn Cone; (-1)Maybe Try One