There are cigars, and there are….cigars. Thanks to the generosity of Bill, I had one that was truly one of my ‘holy grail’ cigars to smoke, and one that I couldn’t wait to review it for this event; a Montecristo Sublimes LE 2008. Visually, this wonderful cigar is a bit deceiving; if this were a Nicaraguan smoke, I’d have bet that it would have blown my shoes off. The wrapper is dark, as in maduro dark. And, it’s a bit on the scraggly side. I’ve smoked Davidoff’s that looked like the wrapper was made from fine, uniform tissue paper. This isn’t that. It’s clearly a somewhat rough, burly looking wrapper. And oily. Really oily. Imposing looking. I wondered going into it if this would just blow my shoes off and lay me out with power. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. To prep for this smoke, the Monte spent three days in my 60% RH humidor (OK, about 62%). We were supposed to get a nasty windstorm today, so smoking in the gazebo was questionable. As such, I headed for my fave cigar lounge across the river in OR where you can still enjoy an inside smoke. Besides, they bring me nice food and beverages there, so it’s a win when I get a chance to go. Beverage was mostly water, with a nice splash of Makers Mark to sharpen the pencil, as required. Pre-light, the wrapper smelled of seriously well aged tobacco, with a subtle hint of spice. Spice was slight cinnamon, not so much white pepper as is common with Nicaraguan smokes. Already interesting. Nothing fancy or too powerful, just fantastic, basic, completely expected, subtle smells. A quick snip with the Palio rewarded me with a perfect draw. I can’t stress this enough….the draw was perfect, no small accomplishment for a smoke of this size. The cold draw gave up more of the well-aged tobacco tastes, with a diminished hint of the spice the wrapper gave up. The wrapper was clearly where the spice hints were coming from. But, very subtle, very nice. Putting the Blazer to the foot, I gave it a nice, even toasting then proceed to draw on it, making sure the foot was lit evenly. I’ve found that getting a good toasting, and a solid, even light across the foot makes all the difference in the world when the smoke gets going. I was careful with this wonderful smoke, and the rewards were there. First impressions were obvious and had my attention; this was a creamy smoke. Unlike anything else I can recall. The cream was heavy, almost like a dairy cream, and thick as could be. Really interesting..!! A guy in the lounge asked me what I was smoking, commented that it smelled amazing. He was right. It was a very creamy smoke, with ample and thick clouds of smoke, which presented an incredibly subtle hint of cinnamon. Amazingly complex, fantastically wonderful. As the cigar progressed into the first third, some subtle flavors hitchhiked along on the creamy smoke, and completed the complexity that I’d enjoy for the balance of the cigar. I sat there with my Cigar Inspector flavor wheel, looking for the right description of the taste of the creamy smoke. No, it didn’t taste like a milkshake but the overall flavor was something that had me flummoxed and unable to pin down. I have to conclude this was due to two things. One, the flavors were amazingly complex. Cinnamon spice drifted in and out. And, two, now there were definite yet subtle hints of some almost fruit flavors that drifted in and out. And, they were very, very subtle. No smack across the face with a burst of some flavor, the intricate tastes came and went, without much fanfare. All of this riding on the veil of the creamiest cigar I’ve ever had the pleasure of smoking. Simply stunning. At the 1” mark I had to use the Blazer to make a minor course correction in the burn. This smoke didn’t have a razor sharp burn, but some gentle Blazer therapy brought it right back on track. Lost the ash (on my lap, of course) the first time at about 1 ½” into the stick. At about 2” I had to touch the burn again, but that was the last time. The second third of the stick didn’t change appreciably, but the intricate and subtle character continued, without letting up. This smoke didn’t progress or change markedly during the smoke, but the profile just kept blowing me away with that amazingly complex and solid profile of thick, creamy smoke, and tiny subtle hints of fruit and cinnamon that seemed to come and go over and over. I kept trying to take notes as to what the taste could be described as, and kept coming up short. Maybe…a little plum taste..?? Pears..?? Maybe..?? Definitely more fruit than floral, but it was impossible for me to quantify and name the tastes. The smoke wasn’t bitter or harsh, in any way. Maybe a little chocolate in the smoke..?? Driving me crazy, trying to put a label on it. The creamy smoke was an amazing base for the very subtle fruit flavors that came and went. Unlike any other smoke I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with. The back third did give up a little more white pepper flavors that I found would show up more markedly if I got the smoke too hot. Put it down, sip some Makers, rinse my mouth out with water, and by then the white pepper had headed out of the palate. I tried, and could make it come and go depending on how hot I let the smoke get. But at no time did the smoke get ‘hot’ or bitter…but the palate was amazingly sensitive to how I smoked the cigar. This surprised me quite a bit, as this wasn’t a lancero by any means. Within reason, most large ring smokes are reasonably insensitive to how you smoke them. This was not. You could almost choose your flavors depending on how you smoked the Monte. I was pleasantly surprised and amazed at just how complex this smoke was. Thick, creamy smoke, with hints of cinnamon, white pepper, and fruit making subtle appearances. It was really something. Before I nubbed it, it turned a bit hot and maybe a little bitter with about ¾” of cigar left. I took the hint; it was done and was telling me nicely. It went to the ash tray, and I sat back in the chair and again tried to make sense of the flavors that this amazing smoke presented me for the last hour and a half. Still couldn’t get there with labels. So, what can be said..?? Well, no kidding, that was one of the five best cigars I’ve ever smoked. No question. It did everything I like in a cigar, and did it better. That creamy, amazing smoke that had the very subtle hints of flavor that came and went while the smoke was going on. Consistently, and perfectly, for the whole length of the cigar. Bill, I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity to experience this amazing smoke. It was likely the most complex cigar I’ve ever had the pleasure to smoke, and clearly among the very best cigars I’ve ever had.