One of the new breed of cigars that have come out from Cuba in recent years, the Montecristo Open is a series that was released specifically to cater for the “outdoor sportsman”.  Also meant to capture new cigar smokers, the blend is intentionally mild, and easy to approach.

Rob Ayala laid down a challenge in a contest he was holding for a RyJ ashtray for someone to review this cigar that has been openly pilloried as being a bad cigar. With a couple of these robustos from the Open series sitting in my humidor, i supposed this was as good a time as any to have a go and see what all the negative fuss was about.

From a pre-light inspection, the cigar is actually quite pretty. Beautiful wrapper, very minimal veining, and hardly a bump in sight, the cigar felt good in the hand; no soft spots, or sponginess, i could tell that the cigar was well packed and well constructed. The scent test revealed some mild cedary hints, and also a touch of fresh tea, one of the first times i’ve detected this in a Cuban cigar.  Interesting.

After a cut and a quick light, the cigar was lit, and burning well. The draw was excellent, just the right amount of resistance, precisely how i personally like it. However, the flavour was extremely, and i mean, really, really, really, light — it was almost relatively tasteless that first half an inch or so. There was absolutely no complexities in the flavours that i could detect — just a straightforward tobacco wash of the palate. A nice aroma came from the smoke, though; a bit like the smell of a fresh forest in the morning.

The second half didn’t improve, the cigar was all aroma, and little flavour. Just a bland toasting of tobacco that did nothing to inspire the tastebuds and even less to impress the smoker. Well, unless you’re the sort that prefers smell over taste. The aroma of the cigar smoke was quite good, to be fair. A certain freshness and spice to the aroma that i thought was quite unique in its presentation, compared to most other Cuban cigars.

All through, the construction of this cigar has to be considered excellent. The filler and binder were rolled in perfectly to offer such a delightful tight ash, and the burn was impeccable suggesting that the tobacco has been well fermented and prepped prior to production. Quite beautiful from this perspective.

The final third didn’t really improve much in terms of flavour, and i didn’t expect it to. It seems that the blender had a certain purpose in mind, and that was to introduce the smoker to the base flavour of a Cuban cigar, without actually giving him the full effect (to me that kinda defeats the purpose). Right at the final inch and a half, a slight revival of flavours did come out, dark chocolate and leather, but that was certainly too little too late. The finish was just mildly peppery, and again, this reinforced the idea that this cigar was always meant to kindly introduce the smoker to Cubans, rather than being a fine example of the typical Cuban cigar itself.

Verdict: 78/100. It would have scored even lower if not for the excellent construction qualities. Definitely a gorgeous cigar to burn and smell, but falls flat when it comes to where it matters the most: the flavour. Not really a bad cigar, just made for a different palate.