Honestly, I remember nothing about this cigar. I was on the scene when they were released and I’ve had them before, but I don’t remember the reviews, I don’t remember the consensus, and I don’t remember any tasting notes. I remember the C, that controversial little cracker, and I remember the Robustos, and of course the more recent entries, the Sublime and the Grand Edmundo but the D? Nothing.
It’s a beautiful size, a elegant Lonsdale, with a nice wrapper, dark and oily. It has punch right from the start. Strong coffee and cream, with a real espresso hit on the back. Beautiful.
I’m drinking a Coca-Cola with it. At one point in my life I lived in China, and in Shanghai’s cigar lounges by far the most common accompaniment to a fine cigar is an icy glass of Diet Coke. Many Chinese have an allergy to alcohol, strong liquor especially, and that excludes them from the whiskey and rum cults we find in western cigar lounges. Outside the lounges they drink a lot of tea, but I’ve never seen it inside one. Perhaps it doesn’t have a strong enough flavour to complement the cigar. In any case, I asked a Chinese friend about it once and he told me that they drank Coke to “cut some of the bitterness.” I’ve drunken it with my own cigars on many occasions, and he’s right, it does remove a lot of the tar and compliments a cigar quite nicely. If it has a fault it’s that it is perhaps a bit too cloying, drowning the tastebuds a little, and were I compiling a definitive tasting notes guide I would probably avoid it, but for a casual smoke I think it works. I will also add the proviso that it should also be watered down with ice, and please, Coke only, no Pepsi. Pepsi is sweeter than Coke and doesn’t have the same complexity; in Coke if you concentrate you can taste the three citrus flavours – lemon, lime, and orange – as well as cinnamon, vanilla and whatever the secret ingredient is. I also have my reservations about Coke in America, which uses high-fructose corn syrup rather than the sugar we have in the rest of the world. I understand you can get proper Coke with sugar around Easter, Americans: it’s called “kosher for Passover” or something like that. Maybe one of those froufrou high end natural colas would work as well. I’ll have to try it.
It’s a wonderful day, blue skys, high twenties, but the wind is a little squally and I think it’s stoking the cigar a bit, because at a little over halfway an ashy, bitter taste begins to creep in, a sure sign that the cigar is burning too hot. Once I let the flavour fade on my tongue I’m left with a medium tobacco flavour, some hint of bean. Perhaps the Coke is ruining this cigar: it began so well, but is getting worse as it goes on. From the first puff this was shaping up to be a magnificent cigar, those full lashings of coffee has me convinced that into the second half I would be in a world of chocolate and sweet spice, but instead I just have bitterness over a little tobacco.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, this is still obviously a cigar of the highest quality, burn has been impeccable, and you can taste the obvious quality in the leaf – I’ll take the Pepsi challenge with this and a non-Cuban any day of the week – but it just disappoints a bit when compared to my high expectations.
By the end of these reviews I’m usually a little tipsy, and I wonder if my enjoyment of the cigar is coloured by insobriety; my best self is the one with two to four standard drinks inside him. No, that can’t be it; I had that first Monte 4 cold sober and that was a cracker. As I toss the nub of this cigar, I observe that I have no buzz at all from the nicotine, and, in fact, I kind of want another cigar. Something short and punchy like a Cohiba Panatela. I wonder if I have any left.
The Montecristo D: begins well, ends less so. Perhaps it’s in a sick period.