In Italy we have a tradition for the last night of the year: throwing away something old from the past year to make room for the things coming in the new year. In keeping with my roots, I started thinking about a symbolic cigar to throw away to salute the end of 2009. Generally I would have problems thinking of a cigar to throw away – even the so so smokes have a time and place in my book – but there is one smoke that stands out for the disappointment I felt smoking it: the Montecristo Open Master. And so, while it is too early to have a top 10 of the year on this Blog, the Monte Open Master is my “throw in the bin” cigar of the year without doubts.
Habanos launched the Montecristo Open range this year as a line for the occasional outdoors cigar smoker, with both the name and the second green band being a clear reference to golf and the Montecristo Open tournament. Coming in 4 sizes -Eagle (5 7/8 inches by 54), Regata (a belicoso 5 1/3 inches by 46), Master (4 7/8 inches by 50) and Junior (4 1/3 inches by 38)- these have a few potentially exciting things about them: the Master could be Montcristos long-awaited Robusto and the Regata a gentler No.2… The first rumors out there were quite positive, with James Suckling from Cigar aficionado giving the Eagle and the Master respectively 92 and 90 points. What followed wasn’t quite as optimistic with cries of crimes against the quality of cuban cigars.
I got my Master as a freebie from an order I placed through one of the online retailers and this are my notes…
Montecristo Open Series Master
Length: 4 7/8″
Ring gauge: 50
Price: around 13£ in the UK, 9-9.50€ in EU countries
Wrapper: Cuban (looks like shade grown tobacco)
Smoking Time: 60 minutes
The wrapper has a nice Connecticut shade hue, but is somewhat veiny. The cigar feels a bit soft, not something really common with Cubans in my experience. Pre-light there are very few flavours to pick up, jus some tobacco and hay. The draw is somewhat loose, again untypical for a Cuban.
No real sense in splitting this cigar in the classic three sections as there is little if any evolution to speak of. The burn throughout is almost perfect and the cigar produces a good amount of smoke. The ash, on the other hand, is quite flaky and light gray and doesn’t stay on for very long. What about the taste?
Taste you say? I guess they must have left that in Cuba because there’s very little of that. It starts with mild tobacco notes and a little coffee, slowly becoming a bit creamy and woody and finishing on cedar and very light sweet spice notes.
To be honest, this is not the worst cigar I have smoked this year (it gets a 75 in my book), but compared to my expectations it certainly is the one that fell furthest away. It is a decent mild smoke, but there are tons of mild smokes -both Cuban and non- that kick this stogie’s but flavorwise. What the Open Master really misses is the Cuban character and there are definitely better mild Cubans out there (Por Larrañaga and Fonseca, just to name two) which cost will not be as heavy on your pocket. A few aficionados out there (Cigar Inspector and Yorgos and cigar.ie, for example) make the point that this is not for the seasoned smoker or the cigar aficionado, but rather the casual smoker. While I take the point, it still is an overpriced and flavorless stick and I am happy to give it the boot!
For some more Open Master “love” you might also want to have a look at this great Friends of Habanos video, which I couldn’t agree more with: