Twenty-twenty has definitely been a crazy year in the cigar industry. While we kicked off the year with the TPE trade show in Las Vegas, we all know how the rest of the year has gone. There has still been activity in the industry, with General Cigar Co. pushing more product to market than perhaps any other. In terms of the company’s Hoyo de Monterrey legacy brand, 2020 saw a deviation from the modernized HOYO releases of recent years. Instead, the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Selección was announced this spring, showcasing a classic look and recipe that tips its hat to both the brand’s Cuban and Honduran origins.
While many will think of Cuban cigars when they see the name Hoyo de Monterrey, this cigar most definitely is not. As a matter of fact, it is a Honduran puro. This cigar was also released with a purpose, more than to just bring a new blend to market. Epicure Selección is blended to honor tobacco craftsmanship of Honduras, where Hoyo de Monterrey cigars have been rolled since the 1950s.
Ed Lahman, senior brand manager for Hoyo de Monterrey, says, “Epicure Selección speaks to the legacy of Hoyo de Monterrey which is one of the first brands to have been made in Honduras, and one of the first to feature bold blends made with native Cuban seeds cultivated in Central America.”
Epicure Selección No.1 Breakdown
- Wrapper: Honduras (Cuban Seed)
- Binder: Honduras (Cuban Seed)
- Filler: Honduras (Cuban Seed)
- Factory: Honduran American Tobacco S.A. (Honduras)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5⅝″ × 46 (Corona Gorda)
- Price: $8.79 (MSRP)
Released in April 2020, this cigar comes in three sizes:
- Epicure Selección No.1: 5⅝” x 46 | $8.79
- Epicure Selección No.2: 4⅞” x 50 | $8.49
- Epicure Selección Toro Especiale: 6″ x 50 | $8.99
It is obvious right away that these Hoyo de Monterrey cigars are not Cuban, as the bright cedar box is emblazoned with the Honduras logo. Opening the box, we are greeted with 20 very dark cigars, with the characteristic red and white Hoyo de Monterrey band contrasting well with the tobacco. Taking a closer look at the cigars, the band, to me, almost has a bundle-cigar appearance to it. While it is obvious General Cigar was going for a traditional look, it just seems to be missing something (be it embossing or a higher grade of paper stock). The wrapper on these cigars is very dark and oily. They are very rugged looking. There are visible seams and veins throughout the marbled surface of the cigar, but little to no bumps. The corona gorda is relatively firm to the touch, with just the slightest amount of give from foot to cap—offering the feel of a very well-constructed cigar.
The aroma coming from the foot has a variety of notes, including cinnamon, walnut, and clove. The pre-light draw—which for me was slightly on the open side—provided more of the same, with a little vegetal sourness that really hit the back sides of the tongue.
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Oddly, the cigar starts off with a very pronounced mineral note, with a little bit of damp earth and pepper. The retrohale in the early stage has the cinnamon and clove in it that was detected in the pre-light, along with a fairly sharp red pepper. As the cigar burns along, the earth notes fade a little bit, and clove, along with walnut shell, become prominent. The mineral note present at first light still lingers vividly on the tongue. The draw is just about on the money, maybe just a slight bit on the loose side. This leads to a heavy smoke output, being quite easy to get a mouthful of the creamy smoke and enjoy the flavors at hand.
Moving along, there is a definite change in profile as the cigar builds noticeably in body and strength. The vegetal note that was noticed in the pre-light appears. This enhances the strength of the red pepper and pushes the cinnamon and clove to the background, but not out of the picture. The aspect of the profile that surprises me, at this point, arrives on the finish—being a creamy-yet-bitter chai spice that sits all the way across the back of the tongue. This is further enhanced by hints of cocoa, adding a little sweetness to the experience. The burn and draw have been right on point, and it is obvious that care was taken in the construction of this cigar.
Heading down the home stretch, we get yet another profile change, though a little more subtle than the first. Vegetal notes fade and the chai and cocoa move to the front. The mineral note on the retrohale fades to the background, with the cinnamon moving to the front. The cigar finishes in pretty much this same manner, with the pepper returning for a sharp burn in the last few puffs. The cigar smoked flawlessly from start to finish, with a solid burn line and minimal waviness.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I would. I am a fan of Honduran cigars, though more importantly, I have always been a fan of cigars that throw in little surprises and are somewhat (but not overly) complex. Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Selección No.1 delivers a great smoking experience in a small package and I certainly wouldn’t mind having a few on hand.
- Flavor: Medium / Full
- Strength: Medium
- Body: Medium / Full
- Red pepper
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Aged rum | Medium-roast coffee | Mineral water | Cream soda
- Purchase Recommendation: Box split
- Rustic appearance
- Good complexity
- Exceptional burn
- Bands have a catalogue-cigar appearance
- One cigar came unraveled at the cap
- Short smoke time