By Benjamin Winokur
Rare, vintage aged tobacco? Check. Silky Connecticut shade wrapper? Check! Exceptional craftsmanship and construction? Check again. These are just a few of the qualities possessed by the Montecristo Vintage Connecticut.
The Montecristo Vintage Connecticut No. 3 is a 5 ½” X 44 corona that comes from the Tabacalera de García in the Dominican Republic. The filler is comprised of an expert blend of tobaccos from Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua; it is finished off with a 2008 Vintage Connecticut Shade Grown wrapper. It should come as no surprise that this wrapper comes from Altadis’ very own farm in Connecticut. Fun fact, the red barn and field on the label are images taken on that same farm.
To start off, this is a beautifully presented cigar with the unique box and band artwork. The cigar itself is no slouch either, once you remove that large center band you’re faced with a golden-honey Connecticut shade wrapper that is smooth and velvety to the touch. Upon lighting the Montecristo Vintage Connecticut is smooth and mild, offering soft touches of white and black pepper on the nose during retrohale, with buttery and cream notes throughout.
Paired with the Montecristo Vintage Connecticut is a generous pour of Ron Zacapa 23 Solera, served neat. Fruity, sweet, and with a soft boozy tobacco on the nose, Zacapa 23 is a staple in my bar, going well with nearly any cigar you send its way-and this time is no exception. Long on the finish with a rich full body of spiced dark chocolate, it is undeniably stronger than its pairing mate. The white and black pepper that come on the retrohale from each puff of the Montecristo Vintage Connecticut serves to tie the flavors together, creating an overall pairing of give and take. Oftentimes I work to find complimentary flavors, but in this one it’s more about the contrast, and appreciating what each component of the pairing brings to the whole.
Moving through the second half of the Montecristo White Series Vintage Connecticut, the pepper ramps up on both the palate and nose, giving some extra body to the otherwise mellow smoke. Smooth through the end, the cigar never goes a tick above medium, resulting in a spirit dominant pairing where the Montecristo Vintage Connecticut is playing sidekick to the Ron Zacapa 23 Sistema Solera and its stronger and fuller body of flavor.
I really enjoy pairings like this from time to time because it makes me pause, and really analyze the smoke as it rolls across my palate. It’s amazing the way different flavors interact, and how a slightly stronger spirit can bring out flavors in a cigar, or a stronger cigar supplementing flavors in a softer spirit.