April 14th, 2005

Montecristo Habana Edición Limitada 2001

Edición Limitada cigars began to arrive on the market late last year. The concept behind the smokes was to produce a small number of cigars in a shape normally not found in a particular brand using aged filler and wrapper. According to Fernando Lopez, the head of all Cuban cigar factories, the limitada range was never designed to be a maduro line of new smokes, like many Cuba cigar lovers believe. Rather, he said, it's always been the aim to make the limited sizes with an aged wrapper of two to three years that shows a slightly darker brown color than the norm.

The leaves come from the upper part of the tobacco plant, which get the most sun and are picked last. This makes the leaves richer and riper -- more maduro, as the Cubans say -- so they come out darker following curing and fermentations. They do not come out black, as many maduros do from other countries after the wrappers have undergone heavy fermentations. Some manufacturers, who will remain nameless, even paint their leaves with dye to make them black, which is completely bogus -- but that's ammunition for another column.

So far, most of the two releases of Cuban limitadas -- four new cigars the first year and five the second year -- have been produced in the Partagas factory in Havana. They include, according to Partagas factory manager Hilda Baró, the Partagas Pirámide and Serie D No. 3, Montecristo Robusto and Double Corona, Romeo y Julieta Double Corona and Cohiba Torpedo. I am not sure where the Hoyo Particulares was made, but probably H. Upmann because that's where Montecristo "As" are made, which are the same size. "I have heard that some people say that we simply changed the bands on some cigars to come up with our limitadas, but I can assure you that each size has been made according to the traditional blend for each brand but with aged tobacco," Baró says.

--James Suckling, Cigar Aficionado Magazine, Nov.-Dec. 2002