If you asked me what General Cigar Co. has been doing with its version of the Hoyo de Monterrey brand lately, I’d say it’s been focusing on its Hoyo Series. Those cigars have seemed to try to get away from the brand’s Cuban roots, dropping half the name and using much more modern packaging.
The name borrows the Cuban brand’s use of the word Epicure for cigars like the Epicure No. 1, No. 2, Epicure Especial and Epicure de Luxe; and the packaging selected by General is close enough that at first glance you might think Habanos S.A. has introduced another version of that used for the Cuban version.
The box is a bit too modern—and says “HONDURAS” up top—while the wrappers on the cigars are certainly darker than just about any Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey I’ve smoked. It goes without saying that General’s version is not Cuban; rather, it’s made entirely of Honduran tobacco. Ot note, the company says the new line is the first to use a proprietary Cuban-seed wrapper.
It’s offered in three sizes, priced between $8. 49-$8. 99. Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Selección No. 1 (5 5/8 x 46) — $8. 79 (Box of 20, $175. 80) Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Selección No. 2 (4 7/8 x 50) — $8. 49 (Box of 20, $169. 80) Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Selección Toro Especiale (6 x 50) — $8.
80) Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Selección No. 2 Honduras STG Danlí Honduras Honduras Honduras 4 7/8 Inches 50 Robusto $8. 49 (Box of 20, $169. 80) April 22, 2020 Regular Production 3 As with the Cuban version of Hoyo de Monterrey, I’m a big fan of the band and it’s quite well done here.
The cigar is well-rolled with great seams and no noticeable bumps. Aroma from the wrapper has an interesting mixture of mustard, Japanese mayonnaise and some earthiness; altogether around medium-full. The foot is full with wheat, Worcestershire sauce, some mustard, tea and a touch of maple syrup. There’s some funk and I can’t tell if it’s coming from the mustard or if it’s something else given just how much is going on.
Given all of the interesting flavors I found on the cold draws, I am a bit surprised when the cigar starts out with a muted mixture of earthiness, whiskey flavors and wet leaves. I suppose in one sense, this starts in a somewhat Cuban manner, as I find many Cuban cigars to have a ton of interesting flavors emanating from them before being lit only to be followed by a pedestrian start.
2 eventually settles into a more interesting mixture of dry Corn Flakes, a very sharp white pepper and a tea-like flavor. Oddly, if I smoke the cigar faster, the cigar gets a bit sweeter and the sharpness reduces itself, which is rather counterintuitive. Retrohales have peppermint and a more vibrant Corn Flakes-like flavor.
While increased puff rates might decrease the sharpness upfront, when I do smoke faster, the Hoyo de Monterrey has a lot more white pepper on the finish. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. Construction is fantastic on all three cigars. The second third brings about an increase in the grainy characteristics compared to the first third.
In addition, the Hoyo de Monterrey adds a raspberry sweetness, a grilled tomato flavor, and some creaminess. Retrohales are very similar to the first third, just a tad bit muted in comparison. The finish is now my favorite part of the Epicure Selección No. 2, a crisp freshly-baked potato chip before sunflower seeds and grainy texture take over.
Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is now medium. Construction remains flawless. Continuing the trend of “things that don’t normally happen in most cigars,” I think the profile tastes best right around the one-inch mark - more information. There’s a vibrant earthy flavor, some nuttiness and lavender. All traces of sharpness are removed and the cigar provides me with an incredibly smooth profile.
The finish is now a mixture of wet leaves, some hamburger-like greasiness and a bit of toasty earth. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium. All three cigars burn down well past the one-inch mark with zero construction issues. Final Notes I’ve always loved the Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey bands, certainly my favorite band amongst the regular production offerings from Habanos S.A.
The cutting out of the crown is done really well and while it’s hard to tell, there is a subtle pattern within the red. From a distance you’d know it, but up close you can see some embossing. The Hoyo de Monterrey brand is probably my go-to Cuban brand when it comes to blindly picking up a single cigar to smoke.