Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure No. 1

 

hoyo de monterrey epicure no. 1 cuban cigarVitola de Galera:  Corona Gorda
Vitola de Salida:  Epicure No. 1
Shape: Parejo
Body: Round
Dimensions:  38 RG /  4 3/8 inches
Presentation: Slide lid box / 25’s
Vintage:  June 2012 / MUS
Age When Tasted:  2 years, 10 months

I’ve always had an affinity for the Hoyo De Monterrey brand.

They exude real class.  I love their elegance and balance.  They also require minimum aging (with the exception of the Le Hoyo Series) to taste fantastic.  They are also relatively easy to find compared to most of the Cuban brands I smoke regularly, which makes it easier when I am traveling and in need of a fine cigar.

The Epicure No. 1 has been a permanent fixture in the Hoyo De Monterrey line up for over 60 + years, and is still going strong.   I think it is one of the best Corona Gordas on the market.   I love pretty much everything about this vitola except for the second “Epicure No. 1” band they added around 2008. It really cheapens the look of the cigar.  I always take it off.

I chose this vitola right before it’s 3rd year in the box.   In my experience, this just about the right amount of aging for it to start coming in to its own.

The wrapper is a beautiful almond color, has a nice sheen and is slightly oily.  The aroma before lighting is light florals, caramel, toast, sun bleached leather and hay.

Draw is just a tad tight…but no too bad.  The body is firm and lightly pliable.

Once lit, the aroma that wafts up is pure elegance–so classic and refined.  Not the slightest bit of harshness and the smoke is cool.

The initial flavors on the tongue are lightly toasted croutons, rice, and honey–the honey flavor is very distinct.  Sweet but in no way cloying.

———

I remember quite some time ago meeting an older gentleman at a restaurant bar in Yountville, California (not far from where I live) and we got to talking about Cuban cigars and our favorites.  At the time, the brands I tended to smoke the most were Ramon Allones, Saint Luis Rey, Bolivar, Partagas, etc–in short, medium to full bodied vitolas .

His favorite brand was Hoyo De Monterrey.  He’d explained that enjoying Cuban cigars most of his life and as he’d developed his palate, he found himself gravitating towards brands that offered more subtle yet complex flavors–vitolas that required some thought and experience to appreciate.  Brands like  Sancho Panza, Hoyo De Monterrey, El Rey Del Mundo, and Diplomaticos.

He also loved Prominentes (Double Coronas).  No argument there!

At the time I just wasn’t experienced enough to get it, but I do now.  And if given a choice, I will reach for the subtly complex over the in-your-face nine times out of ten.   I also smoke every day, and I just can’t handle too much strength back to back like that.

—————–

I’ve reached the mid-point now, and the burn is perfect, and the ash is nice and firm.

The flavors have remained very linear throughout.  Honey sweetness, toasted bread, light leather and just a little oak.  Light oak.  Really nice.  It would pair well nicely with a non-oaked chardonnay or a white burgundy–I think the minerality of the burgundy would be the perfect foil.

And that honey sweetness just lingers on the tongue…

As I get closer to the band, coffee and cream mingles pleasantly with the honey sweetness.  It tastes like toffee.

Absolutely no harshness or heat.  Did I mention that you need to take your time with this cigar?  It could overheat which would be a total waste of such a fine vitola.  But that goes for any cigar.

Almost to the band now…

Damn, that was a nice cigar.

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