By: NICK HAMMOND 

A cracking ‘new’ cigar hit the UK market the other week, albeit only briefly.

Montecristo - Vitola especial 80 Aniversario (19)At the annual Hunters & Frankau Summer Party (Hunters are the only Cuban importer and distributor for the UK) the special ‘birthday’ edition new Montecristo was revealed on these shores for the first time. Retailers are still eagerly awaiting enough to actually sell it to their customers, though.

I can tell you, it’s a cracker.

One connoisseur, whose opinion I value, told me having tried it back in Havana in February, it was the best cigar he had ever smoked. Wow.

Now, I wondered whether the dancing girls, rum, sunshine and sleeplessness had gone to his head, but he assured me he was fully compos mentis when he made his assessment.

Montecristo - Vitola especial 80 Aniversario (2)It’s not unheard of for versions of new cigars released first in Cuba to be somewhat, ahem, different, by the time they arrive on these shores. The inference from those in the know is that somewhere along the line, not the same quality of tobacco is used to produce the ‘regular’ cigar as the few that were rolled for the Festival. Habanos, of course, totally refute this.

Anyway, it was with great anticipation that I got my grubby paws on the Montecristo Anniversario 80, a monster of a cigar that filled my evening and my palate with equal aplomb, created to celebrate the birthday of the grand old dame of Cuban marques.

Montecristo - Vitola especial 80 Aniversario (14)1It’s 6 1/2ins x 55 Ring Gauge, too fat by far for me normally BUT – I’ll make an exception on this occasion. Sweet, smooth, medium in body and building in flavour throughout the smoke, by the end I was making the most of every last lingering puff. If they are all like these, what a treat. Get your hands on some, I’d love to know what a year or two of age will do to them.

Montecristo Anniversario 80, 6 ½ ins x 55RG, expected retail price in the region of £35 in the UK.