When i received the Montecristo Grand Edmundos (MGEs for short) a few weeks ago, it took me a lot of effort to hold off from smoking one right away; they just looked, smelled and felt so great. Besides the good common sense to let cigars that have been in long transits rest for a while, i noticed that they were a little bit dry as well — this was obvious from the slight sponginess and lightness when i weighed them up in the hand. Dry tobacco is a lot lighter (as in weight) than properly humidified tobacco.

I’ve been checking on them these last few days. The are feeling much heavier in the hand, and firmer as well as the humidified tobacco expands and helps give the cigar some “beefy solidity”. The cigars had recovered from their long journey, it was time for the first one to meet its end.

Examining the cigar, i couldn’t help but admire how perfect it looked and felt. Gorgeous dark leather wrapper, minimal veining, with a good dose of oily consistency on the fingers. Putting it to the nose, it revealed a nice cedar tinge, melted in with nuts and vanilla beans at the foot. Vanilla is perhaps one of my most admired flavours in the world — so to smell that delicious aroma in such prominent doses in this cigar was very welcome. Taking a quick cut, i spent a few minutes dry drawing. The draw was perfect with a fresh tobacco flavour; the extra time spend humidifying the cigar has given it a chance to fill itself out, thus improving the draw quality from loose (dry) to just nicely firm (moist).

Lighting the cigar took a moment, and as i took the first couple of draws, it was like sipping from a fountain made in Heaven. The first inch was dominated by the most complex vanilla, beans and nuts flavour that i have experience in a cigar so young. The last time i tasted something like this was when i had a 10 year aged Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona many years ago; that cigar was so good, its memory still resonates till today. I’m a great fan of the delicate flavours that comes from a mix of sweet beans and nuts, so you can imagine i really liked the opening volley of this cigar.

Many Cuban brands open up with strong coffee flavours (Bolivar and certain Cohiba Siglos), others take a creamy, musky chocolate route (ERDMs and Por Larranagas). But so few are able to deliver what i was getting from the MGE. I found it quite amazing that a blend made with tobacco that has only been aged for 2 years can offer the same flavours as a perfectly aged 10 year old HDM.

Like most ELs in relation to their mother brand, the MGE abandons somewhat the classic Montecristo taste profile, and goes off in its own direction. The second half continued to deliver that luxurious vanilla and nuts offering that i like so much, and added a twist and turn of its own: a distinctly noticeable woody, cedary sweetness that just took things to another level of complexity. Gloriously smooth, rich and thick dollops of flavour. It was quite a ride.

Towards the final third, the MGE had one final surprise for me: a lovely chocolate mousse, again immensely smooth and rich. For a cigar that was only released a few months ago, it certainly wasn’t showing any of its youth. I can’t remember the last time i had a cigar that was so delicate, balanced and smooth, while fresh. Not a hint of harshness, bitterness or even pepper and mint throughout the cigar. Only at the very, very end, the last inch or so, as the cigar warmed up under heavy puffing, did the pepper and needles make an appearance. To me, that was a fantastic grandstand finish. Like an orchestra that strokes you along gently for the whole song, only to rise to a crescendo of magnificence to the frantic wavings of the conductor’s baton. Bliss.

Verdict: A great 92/100. I wonder how much better these cigars can possibly get in the years to come. A great, great cigar. Perhaps the best EL for 2010, perhaps the best EL since the Sublimes in 2008.

Cigarsofhabanos.com is a good place to pick these up. $161 for the box of 10, that price can’t really be beaten anywhere else. Mention Aizuddin of My Cigar Blog, and get a free cigar with your orders!