The Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Especial was originally introduced to the market in 2008. This 2014 version was #4 in Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 of 2015 and was the highest placed Habanos. The cigar is known for a rich and complex finish with a good balance between flavor and strength. Let’s see why this cigar scored so well in Cigar Aficionado.
Information and Appearance:
Brand: Hoyo de Monterrey – Habanos S.A.
How did I get it: I bought this from Naffa at Cigar Hut. They currently have Cigar Aficionado’s top 10 in stock.
Length of smoke: This took me a little over an hour. Depending on your pace, this cigar could be between 50 – 80 minutes.
- This cigar comes in a 5 1/2 x 50 robusto, which is a little larger than a classic 5 x 50.
- The blend is all Cuban tobacco
The cigar has a nice tan hay color and the wrapper is flawless. The dry draw has some slight floral notes and has just enough resistance. It is not tight, but it is not too loose either; just right. The construction appears excellent and the cigar has no noticeable flaws or damage. Much like other Habanos, the band has a classic look with a secondary band declaring it the Epicure Especial.
Burn and Draw:
Much like the dry draw, the cigar draws nice and easy, but not too loose. The problem when a cigar is too loose is that you feel a bit out of control and the cigar is just going to be like smoking a handful of dry grass. This draw does not take too much effort, but you feel in control and not that the cigar is going to burn too fast. For me, that happy middle ground is right where you want the draw to be.
The draw remains consistent throughout the cigar and never deviated. The burn however did get a bit wayward as the smoke went on. This required slight corrections, but nothing that would have a negative impact on the experience.
Like I stated previously, this cigar looks amazing. The wrapper looks flawless and the cigar itself looks extremely well made. This is borne out during the smoke in how the cigar keeps its shape and never gets soft or falls apart.
The headliner for this cigar’s construction is the combustion rate. This cigar smokes really well and never burns hot. The combustion rate is enough to put out a lot of smoke, but you never have to worry about the cigar going out. This combustion rate allows for a nice smoking rate and an overall enjoyable smoking experience.
The cigar starts out nice and smooth. The easy draw and even combustion rate is complimented by smooth vanilla and floral notes. There is also some hints of wood off the bat, which balance well with the other flavors. Your lips tingle a little bit after the first 10 minutes, which I always enjoy.
The initial impression I get from this cigar is that the flavors are going to be nuanced and delicate. Smooth vanilla and floral notes are refined and are refreshing. As this first third continues, the vanilla and floral flavors are balanced by a developing tobacco flavor. All flavors in this initial third are well balanced and not over the top, which is refreshing after smoking a number of bold Nicaraguan blends.
The vanilla and tobacco flavors evident in the first third continue into this third of the cigar. This part of the cigar is where the cigar’s richness comes together. The tobacco flavor that came out in the first third develops a wonderful richness that balances well with other more nuanced and delicate flavors. This rich tobacco flavor also gives the cigar a nice texture, which I enjoy. As we come move towards a final third the gram cracker flavor comes out for a brief appearance. In my experience, I had a little gram cracker flavor, which quickly moved to a honey sweetness. Much like the first third, the cigar remains well balanced with a complex and layered finish.
The rich tobacco flavor is still there, but it has a little more edge on it. As a whole, the final third performs well and tobacco flavors still balance nicely with coffee and earth. The cigar is still burning really well and the draw is still smooth. The final third does not burn hot and there is a slight grassy note near the end. All and all, the final third performs well and you can smoke it all the way down to the end.
This is a wonderful cigar and a wonderful diversion in a market dominated by big brash Nicaraguan blends. The cigar illustrates how nuanced, delicate, rich and well balanced flavors can deliver an excellent smoking experience. This is a wonderful cigar that not only is a good introduction into Habanos, but it is a cigar that can be enjoyed by cigar smokers of all experience levels.
Overall Score: 93 / Excellent
This is a wonderful cigar and a great example of what Habanos has to offer. However, I would reach for a Bolivar Royal Corona, H. Upmann Magnum 46, Partagas Serie D No. 5 or a Vegas Robaina Famosos before this cigar. Therefore, I would not say that this is a hall of fame cigar. Having said that, you could not go wrong with a box of these. Be sure to smoke some right away and set some aside to age.