Aside from a reputation as one of the most well-known Cuban cigar brands (dating back to 1865), Hoyo de Monterrey also operates as among America’s most recognized brands—being produced out of Honduras. Like most-any successful Cuban brand, the cigar holds split rights due to the company’s proprietor fleeing Cuba after their oppressive government threatened to seize rights to all cigar production in 1959.
Since this time, Hoyo de Monterrey has become known for their use of Honduran tobaccos. But for their latest offering, the brand opts for a modernized look, as well as venturing into Nicaragua to harness the bold and powerful qualities of Estelí’s tobacco. The blend showcases a unique Estelí-grown wrapper that is proprietary to General Cigar Co.
The proprietary, one-of-a-kind Esteli Habano shade-grown wrapper is one of the heaviest wrappers in the industry and provides a powerful, peppery smoke.
This is further intensified by Pennsylvania ligero and brought to balance by a Sumatra binder and Nicaragua’s sweeter, Ometepe tobacco.
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Estelí Habano (Shade-Grown)
- Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Filler: Pennsylvania | Nicaraguan Estelí | Nicaraguan Ometepe
- Factory: Honduras American Tabaco S.A. (Honduras)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5″ × 54 Robusto
- Price: $6.59 (SRP)
As we’ve seen other age-old brands modernize their look in the past few years (Joya Red, ROMEO), Hoyo de Monterrey has incorporated a similar strategy—shortening the name and simplifying the look. The new look was first introduced in 2015 for the limited edition Hoyo de Monterrey Edición de Cumpleaños 150—celebrating the brand’s 150th anniversary. But it appears the design is now here to stay. HOYO borrows similar ingredients from this cigar, adding additional age to the wrapper, among other tweaks.
Updating a classic brand is tricky, it’s a necessary adjustment if you want the brand to stay relevant—but it can also have a negative effect for the current followers of the brand. In HOYO’s case, they did a nice job—the design feels clean and modern without being too bold or in-your-face.
The wrapper is about as dark as you can get without becoming a maduro, I’d call it Colorado—having a reddish clay hue. On closer examination, there is an intricate network of very thin veins across the wrapper, taking on a web-like appearance. And perhaps it was just my samples, but it looks like our roller got a little glue-happy—having thin splotches running the length of the stick. It’s a fairly oily wrapper, with a muted sheen. Construction-wise, it feels like a medium-tight pack, having a solid exterior and finished with what appears to be a double cap.
Light notes of brown sugar and chocolate chip cookie dough (minus the chocolate chips) make up the bulk of the wrapper aroma. And the foot shows notes of pencil shavings, paper, and cedar wood.
My first impression was not unlike a newcomer to the world of sushi, taking a large bite of wasabi and paying the price for the next minute or so… Whether it’s from the Pennsylvania filler or Estelí Habano wrapper (probably both), this HOYO is spicy! It’s a chemically sort of intensity in the retrohale, as you’d find with wasabi or horseradish—which can be good or bad, depending on your tolerance (retrohale experts only). I actually timed this firey sensation, which, if fully exhaled through the nostrils, will have you rendered incapacitated for at least 10 seconds…
Okay, now that we have this insane sensation covered, there are other elements of this smoking experience (though that intro is certainly the highlight). The draw is practically perfect, giving medium volumes of smoke from a medium-plus resistance. On the palate there are subdued flavors of corn chips, along with oily/savory notes and a backbone of hickory woods. It was about medium body with a medium/full strength.
Unfortunately, the wrapper seemed to be having a hard time keeping pace with the innards, requiring quick touchups periodically. And while the intense spice slowly dwindles, it is reignited with each touchup. The strength is stronger than expected and can be felt gripping around your lower throat at around the midpoint. Eventually the profile rounds out to include some more balance, having lightly sweet notes of cedar and floral, contrasted by heavier flavors of earth, mineral, and raw cinnamon spice.
This is where the profile remains from essentially the half-point onwards. Although, I came across a small section that ramped up the entire experience, approaching the band. Big, full flavors of florals and cinnamon, highlighted by a return of the unforgiving retrohale spice.
Would I smoke this cigar again?
On occasion. This is a great cigar to kick off a night of smoking. It’s not going to break the bank and it jumps off to an insane blast of spice, waking up those tastebuds for a good night of HERFin’. I’d pair it with a smooth (non-peaty) Scotch or wheated bourbon, in an attempt to sooth your palate from the insane wasabi-like spice.
- Intense intro with wasabi-like spice
- Long smoke time (2+ hours)
- Good balance of strength and floral sweetness
- Many wrapper touchups
- Not complex
- Smoke output is on the light side