When we left off I was in Chicago and I mentioned I was going to visit Casa de Montecristo in Countryside, IL. I set the GPS in the car, which, for some reason, didn’t take the street number for me. I decided to wing it, and set off anyway. I got about ten miles down I-294 and the GPS had lost it. The lady in the dashboard kept telling me to take the next left, then recalculated, take the next left….I was on a highway with no left turns! She didn’t know what she was doing! I pulled off the next exit and parked in a McDonalds and turned the crazy lady off and see if the iPhone Google Maps app would help me out. I apparently had gotten of at the right exit, because in a few turns I pulled into the Casa de Montecristo lot.
To everyone who told me Casa de Montecristo was a must visit on my Chicago visit, thank you! The store is beautiful, and the staff is very attentive. Fred showed me around and introduced me to one of the regulars, Conor. Oddly, a gentleman named Justin who I had met the day before at TESA was there making a purchase on his way out of town, he had come in from St. Louis for the previous day’s event and to celebrate his birthday. Strange walking into a strange shop 750 miles from home and seeing a familiar face, but I shouldn’t really be surprised by now, it happens more times than not, it seems. The store has cabinet humidors lining the walls for singles, an glass excaparate with bins of unbanded cigars, a walk-in humidor for boxes, and a “vintage room” off the walk-in humidor. After a tour of the facilities, I picked out a couple cigars I hadn’t smoked before and had been looking for, the Camacho Ecuador in the Figurado size and the Matilde Renacer in the Robusto size. I could have shopped for hours, but I neither need more cigars, nor do I have the budget for Illinois prices.
I was ushered downstairs in the only cigar-friendly elevator in the country to the VIP lounge. Apparently they allow out of towners in the lounge, not that there aren’t nice, comfy chairs upstairs in the store area. The VIP Lounge is quite luxurious. In addition to the comfy leather chairs, there are booths and a bar, where members can store their own libations and have access to complimentary coffee, sodas and water. I pulled up a stool next to Conor and we had a wonderful time swapping stories. He had had a cigar brand and we knew a lot of the same people and had visited a lot of the same places. Once again, you can walk into a strange cigar shop just about anywhere and meet a friend you didn’t know. As an aside, Conor is hosting a charity event next month, check out www.chicigarmeetup.com for all the information if you are in the Chicago area or plan to be there. I lit up the Camacho Ecuador which was a very nice cigar. It burned perfectly and had a great draw and the flavor was very enjoyable. Conor kindly gifted me a cigar out of the escaparate, a Pete Johnson blend that he said was the original blend of the Black Jar release. This was a nice smoke as well, however I had to finish it in the car on the way back to the hotel. The VIP lounge also includes a theater and a meeting room, along with a bunch of TVs and lockers for not only cigars but booze. I can’t recommend the Casa de Montecristo enough if you find yourself in the Chicago area. I’m sure glad I decided to seek it out and spend my afternoon there. Great company, great smokes and great facility.
Tonight I took a walk with a Diesel Unlimited d.5 that I think came from last year’s IPCPR. This cigar is made by A.J. Fernandez for Meier and Dutch and has been on the market for several years. Oddly, I don’t think I’ve sampled this line extension before, but it kind of jumped into my hand as I was looking for tonight’s cigar. The Unlimited has an oily Honduran ligero wrapper and the filler is Nicaraguan tobaccos from Esteli and Condega and Mexican San Andrés. This cigar was rich and heavy in flavor and quite satisfying. I would reach for this often, it’s a solid cigar.
I need to get ready to travel again, I’m really looking forward to attending the Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival in Colorado, and will attempt to report from the event, or shortly after. Until then,