Comparison: Montecristo Especial No. 2 vs. Double Edmundo
The cigar world is in a constant state of flux, with consumer preferences in terms of size, shape and strength of vitolas dictating much of how the industry has grown and adapted over the last several decades. This can be clearly observed by the ever-increasing roster of heavy ring gauge vitolas now found across the whole Habanos profile, but also with a fun case study we can observe within the Montecristo brand by way of a comparison between the old-school cool of the Especial No. 2, and the new age stylings of the considerably sized Double Edmundo.
Especial No. 2
A mainstay of Montecristo’s output since its release in 1969, earning the adulation of generations of cigar enthusiasts in its wake, the Especial No. 2 takes the form of a “Laguito No. 2,” well known by many smokers as the vitola of choice of Fidel Castro (albeit he ideally preferred the Cohiba vitola in this size), and is the perfect “time capsule” stick to feature for this comparison. While both stogies measure in around ~153mm, give or take, the resemblance ends there; in modern times, the Especial No. 2 increasingly feels like a relic of a soon-to-be bygone era, as more and more budding cigar enthusiasts find themselves thrust headfirst into a world bursting at the seams with humongous cigars where even 50 ring gauge vitolas now feel somewhat dwarfed by their contemporaries, and the longer, more slender options of yesteryear slowly go the way of the Dodo.
Another intriguing facet of the Especial No.2 which doesn’t seem to occur with too many modern vitolas, is the greater need to appropriately age the cigars before enjoying them: As a rough benchmark, many ardent fans of the Especial No. 2 recommend allowing the vitola to rest for five entire years from their production date to reach their fullest potential and optimal smoking condition due to their higher ratio of wrapper leaf to filler tobaccos.
From a consumer standpoint however, it’s easy to understand the rationale of smokers flocking to modern heavier ring gauge vitolas, as they are priced very closely to these elder vitolas but can be perceived as “getting more cigar for your money,” without taking into consideration the fact that these are very different smoking experiences, due to the need for vastly more filler tobacco in chunky sticks often relying on lesser quality tobaccos making up the lion's share of the filler, resulting in an overall poorer smoking experience.
Which brings us handily to the first, and most crucial, point of discussion relating to the Double Edmundo.
Released in 2013, the first new vitola to be incorporated into the Montecristo portfolio since the Petit Edmundo in 2006, the Double Edmundo received absolutely none of the praise of its more diminutive critically acclaimed siblings and quickly became regarded as the problem child of the Montecristo brand.
With boxes piling up in cigar stores and enthusiasts refusing to buy them, it would be a grievous understatement to assert that the Double Edmundo got off to something of a rocky start compared to the luminary vitolas preceding it which also shared an extremely similar format, such as the Trinidad Robusto Extra and the H. Upmann Magnum 50. With myriad complaints regarding muted/complete-lack-of flavour, over-humidified and underfilled cigars and wildly inconsistent production aplenty, it would take several problem-fraught years of tinkering with the Double Edmundo for it to fully hit its stride. Which is a damn shame in itself, as it was clear that plenty of time and consideration had gone into devising the stick in the first place, as it was also the first vitola in the marca to feature their shiny new band, embossed with all the gold trim on the fleur de lis.
Thankfully, the ship had been righted by 2016, and enthusiasts found themselves more willing to embrace the Double Edmundo in its rejuvenated form. It is interesting to note however, that time and ageing did precious little to improve the 2013 to early 2016 batches of the Double Edmundo by all accounts, and it wasn’t until the blend itself had been tweaked and iterated upon that the cigar community were willing to welcome it into their humidors with open arms, and thankfully so, as the modern Double Edmundo is a thing of beauty indeed!
Ultimately the comparison between these two sticks boils down to the temperament of the individual who’ll be purchasing them, as it should go without saying that both are fantastic cigars in their own right, but the Especial No. 2 requires the willingness to pre-plan a considerable amount of time in advance in order to be enjoyed in its optimal condition, along with smoking the cigar slowly and steadily to ensure that it doesn’t become too hot and subsequently unpleasant. Whereas the Double Edmundo on the other hand requires almost none of the preparation and ritual of its fellow compatriot, arriving in the humidors of cigar stores worldwide in a condition generally regarded as ready to smoke right out of the box there and then; naturally time and prolonged proper storage conditions will allow these flavours to properly marry, mellow and refine, but there is far less of a pronounced difference between smoking a fresh Double Edmundo than a young Especial No. 2, allowing for a more readily available product.
With that being said, there can be no real right or wrong answer as to which cigar to smoke and when, as everybody’s smoking experience and preferences are purely subjective, but by following the loose considerations above we hope that you can maximise the enjoyment of your sticks by lighting them up in the right condition and hopefully with great company!