October 31, 2011

Cigar Review: Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Epicure Maduro


Hoyo

The other day I was smoking an Illusione ~4/2g~ and a Ramon Allones Gigantes side by side when I was asked by a customer what my opinion was on the Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Epicure. I immediately told him that I loved that cigar, and though I hadn’t smoke one in some time it was time to light one up. The cigar for me has always delivered wonderful flavors, nice medium body, and a great affordable price. The cigar did well by Cigar Aficionado in 2007, and I think they are just as great now as they were for the staff at Cigar Aficionado then. Though General Cigars and Altadis are not boutique manufacturers, the fact that they are so large gives them the opportunity to get some great tobacco that smaller manufacturers could never get. The Hoyo de Monterrey is one of the oldest cigar lines in the industry, and is one of the few lines that are made in and outside of Cuba to this day.

The Hoyo line began in Cuba in 1865, and was begun by Don José Gener y Batet. He originally came to Cuba from Spain in 1831, and before starting the line worked on the tobacco plantations in Pinar del Rio before starting his own factory in Habana, Cuba. The line quickly became one of the most popular lines in Cuba, and in a short time had the largest factory. Hoyo de Monterrey is translated as “hole of Monterrey”, and refers to the area in which the tobacco for this cigar came from. It was considered one of the best areas. Eventually the company was sold to Fernando Palicio who continued to make the Hoyo line along with the other lines they took on, Belinda and Punch. When the revolution came about in Cuba he sold the line to the Villazon Family, who was making cigars in Tampa, Florida at the time. There they continued to make the line from Honduran tobacco before being bought by another General. The company was run by Frank Llaneza at the time, and continued to be run by him till General Cigars bought them. Eventually the lines production was moved down to Honduras, and now it is made from tobacco from more than just Honduras.   

My favorite cigar in the non-Cuban Hoyo line is the Excalibur Epicure Maduro. The Epicure measures 5 ¼” and has a 50 ring gauge. The cigar is composed of tobacco from four prominent growing nations, and from some of the best regions in those nations as well I imagine. The cigar begins with a Maduro Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and binder, and has filler tobacco from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua. The factory in which the cigar is made is the Honduras American Tabaco S. A. in Cofradia, Honduras just outside of Danli. This is the same factory in which all Punch and Sancho Panza cigars are made. The cigar is truly a classic, and great to look at. The wrapper is a very dark brown, definitely maduro in coloring, and has a great cap to it. There are few veins if any present in the cigar, and it has a wonderful aroma of coffee, cocoa, wood and earth. It is slightly oily and toothy to touch as well. 
Beautiful maduro wrapper
As I light up the cigar I am immediately greeted by flavors of coffee and cedar. The flavors are easy to pick out, and they stay with you on the long finish. As I get further into the first third I begin to pick up more notes of herbs, spices and rich chocolate. The cigar has a beautiful burn to it, it is perfect, and the ash is a very light gray. The ash is very strong and holding on to the cigar firmly, and it is producing a nice amount of smoke. The flavors are very pleasant and the cigar is a solid medium in body.

When I get into the second third the first thing that I notice is that the ash on this cigar is not letting go anytime soon, and I imagine that I will be able to hold on to it till the final third easily. I am still picking up those wonderful flavors of coffee, cedar and chocolate, but the herbal notes have faded some. The spice notes increase some in this third, but the cigar is still a solid medium. The flavors have not changed dramatically so far, but it is just delivering the wonderful flavors consistently, and that is what is most important, it is a solid smoke.  

I am in the final third now, and that beautiful ash is still there. The burn line on this cigar is still absolutely perfect, and it is producing a nice amount smoke after each draw. The flavors are fairly similar to that of the second third, and it is very enjoyable. The cigar is rich in cocoa, spice and coffee notes, and it makes the cigar perfect for me anytime of the day. This is a cigar that is great to give to any smoker, and is a great everyday cigar. The cigar still has a spicy wood finish, and when I put the cigar down it was still smoking cool and wonderful.

Some might not have great things to say about this cigar because it is made by General, and because it is a cigar that is easily accessible and not boutique, but that is just silly. This is a cigar that always delivers, and never bores. It is not overly complex in the flavor department, but the flavors it does have are wonderful throughout and never dull. With flavors being consistent throughout the cigar has to be bunched just perfectly, and this cigar was. You could never go wrong with this cigar, and even though I do not smoke them often or have them in my humidor it does not mean it is bad. This is a cigar that every retailer should carry, and it will move. All the shops I recommend carry these smokes, and there is a reason for that. This is a consistent cigar aimed for every smoker. If I were to buy one cigar from General Cigars this would be it, and following this it would be the Punch Uppercut. A 90 rated cigar that will always deliver. A great cigar to share with your friends who are big time smokers, and a cigar that is great for newcomers as well. 
Epicure Maduro

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