Montecristo Línea 1935 Leyenda Cigar: The Closest Thing To The Second Coming?
by Ken Gargett
The long-awaited, much-hyped, and very much debated line of premium cigars Línea 1935 from the house of Montecristo is finally hitting the shelves.
It has been a long wait – they were originally announced at the XIX Habanos Festival back in February 2017. Such delays are not uncommon when dealing with Cuban cigars.
Havana does have a history of hits and misses with newly released cigars (in fairness, many more hits than misses), and as this line has been trumpeted as the closest thing to the second coming, much is riding on its success.
The last time a new series was added to the Montecristo range was the Open program. These have proved popular, especially in travel retail apparently, but regarding quality, for me, they were very much a miss. Granted, they were intended for a different sector of the market as they were easy smoking and well priced.
The Línea 1935 range is very much aimed at the pinnacle: these are high-priced cigars for special occasions.
Montecristo Línea 1935 Leyenda: an exciting smoke
The aim for this trio was premium cigars with Montecristo “DNA,” but a slightly fuller flavor.
To date, my experience has been limited to just one of the trio – the Leyenda – but I’ll confess to being so excited by it (and I can’t wait to see the other two) that I wanted to record just what a stellar smoke this is. If the other two new cigars are as good as the Leyenda, then Havana should have a smash hit on its hands.
The trio consists of the Maltés (53 x 153 mm), Dumas (49 x 130 mm), and the Leyenda (55 x 165 mm). The first two are new sizes for the house, but the Leyenda replicates the limited edition Montecristo 80 Aniversario, which was launched in 2015 to commemorate Montecristo’s eightieth anniversary.
For me that was a seriously impressive smoke, but there have been mixed opinions (one wonders if they may have suffered some inconsistency in construction). The three will become part of the standard production for Montecristo; they are not limited editions.
Montecristo is perhaps the best known of all cigar houses, and the ubiquitous Monte 4, a delightful petit corona, might be the most popular cigar on the planet.
Monte 2, a pyramid, is the go-to cigar for many looking for something a bit special. Not all Montes have been so successful – for me, the first “fail” in the Limited Edition program was the Monte C from 2003. And Monte Opens leave me cold.
The Count of Montecristo’s favorite cigars
This cigar house was named after the famous French tale The Count of Montecristo by Alexandre Dumas, one of the most popular of the novels read to the rollers at the H. Upmann factory in Havana while they worked. The house was founded in 1935 at that very factory.
All three cigars in the Línea 1935 are named in connection with the famous novel: Dumas, obviously, the writer; Leyenda is “legend” in Spanish, and Maltés is the nickname of the main character.
The cigars are described as totalmente a mano con tripa larga (“totally by hand with long filler”). The wrapper, filler, and binder are all from Vuelta Abajo (Pinar del Rio), and the intent was to source the finest leaves with a fuller flavor.
The cigars, coming in boxes of 20 with a Carmelite lacquer finish, have three bands (one can almost hear the collective rolling of eyes): the usual Monte band featuring the symbolic fleur-de-lis; a special one to identify Línea 1935 cigars; and a third one at the foot (the place you light).
It looks odd to me, but makes sense as cigars can easily suffer damage during handling and this will help protect them. Now that we have one three-banded cigar, expect to see many others.
How did the Leyenda smoke?
The cigar itself, the Leyenda, has not followed the current fad of chocolate/maduro wrappers, but it is more of a Colorado light honey/brown with a lovely sheen of oils. It has, however, followed the fad of jaw crackers: monster cigars are all the rage, as hard as it is for many older cigar lovers to understand.
But when a cigar is this good, much can be forgiven. The construction was immaculate.
There are the traditional Monte flavors of spices, cedar, nuts, coffee, some warm earth, dry hay, leather, and possibly even a hint of vanilla. But the flavors are on steroids. There were also some lovely cherry notes emerging along with some milk chocolate and even caramel, though just a whiff. Fortunately, all is in balance.
It is richer than the usual Monte, with plush smoke and great length – which is very much a highlight with plenty of intensity. There is some of that “young cigar” heat/burn right at the finish, but that is unavoidable at this stage and will not be a problem for anyone putting a box or two into their humidors for the years to come.
For me, it is a 94 at this stage, but I would expect it to improve on that score over the next couple of decades. Fingers crossed the Maltés and Dumas are just as good, but there is no reason to suppose that they will not be.
I mentioned that there had been much debate about these cigars. Unfortunately, most of that debate has focused on the probable pricing and just how high Montecristo might go.
As it turns out, very high.
Prices will depend on each market and local taxes, but as a guide, in Australia (although very heavy taxes are imposed on cigars here), they will come out between AUD$60 and AUD$90 per stick.
For me, the new Montecristo Línea 1935 series is very much a hit!
For more information, please visit www.habanos.com/en/noticias/montecristo-linea-1935.
Also published on Medium.