Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend Challenger | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Connecticut Habana 2000 (Cuban Seed)
Binder: Nicaraguan (Ligero)
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan (Ometepe)
Size: 5.25 x 50 “Robusto”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $7.50


Today we take a look at an oldie but goodie; the Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend Challenger. This cigar made its debut at the 2008 IPCPR Trade Show. General Cigars releases a bushel full of cigars that year and this one melted away as the competition overshadowed it.

I want to thank Dexter Hicks for gifting me this cigar and many others for me to review.

I’ve never been a Hoyo fan for one fact only: They need a lot of humidor time. And according to Dexter’s letter, this stick has been humidor aging for 9 months. I marveled as I removed the yellow cello. Yum.

The release of the Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend Challenger was designed to usher in a new era of stronger, bolder Hoyos.

The Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend Challenger has the exact same wrapper as the Hoyo de Monterrey Dark Knight.

This is not a sophisticated looking cigar. Rippled veins that look Dr. Frankenstein did the closing, visible seams, way out of round, but a very decent triple cap. The wrapper is light tanned leather look that has a bit of oil and feels toothy.

I clip the cap and find aromas of spice, earthiness, cocoa, espresso, barnyard, lemon citrus, strong cedar, and leather.
Time to light up.

The draw is good. Not much taste quite yet except for a big pow in the kisser of red pepper.

And here they come. Holding each other’s tails like elephants in the circus. First is a nice subtle sweetness made up of nougat, custard, and some sweet brioche.

The char line is a bit wonky. Better to fix it now than wait for a dire situation.

A soft buttery creaminess wraps the sweetness up like a tobacco burrito.

The strength is just shy of medium.

The lemon citrus is a good counterpoint to the intense sweetness. It has that Yin/Yang thing going on.
The packing of the Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend Challenger is inconsistent. Some spots are packed as it should be and other spots have small voids. Like me.

The lemony element is extremely bold now.

And in a flash, the flavors come together and seem to be on the brink of becoming a flavor bomb. I’m only half an inch in so there is time.

I dream of electric upright basses now. My second bout of the flu is on the mend…allowing the newly implanted spinal stimulator to do its work without interference from body aches. I am able to walk without a cane. And I dream of my days in the Todd Hart Power Blues Trio. All I played was my electric Dobro upright. I have made a promise to myself that I will play again.

The greatest bassist on the planet cannot be held back. No kidding. This journalist actually said that about me back in the mid 1970’s. Clearly, he was stoned because no money passed between us. And I didn’t know him. Back in those days, when a big journalist came backstage, I would tell him that if he said something nice about me I would get Sonja to give him a BJ. Worked every time.

Back to the Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend Challenger. Damn. The name of the cigar takes up half a page!
The cigar has an old school flavor. Back in the day, the Cuban expatriates did their best to bring Cuba with them to Florida in the form of their beloved cigars. They found the closest thing to Cuban tobacco was Nicaraguan tobacco. Plus they brought bushels of Cuban seed with them that has been used in hybrid form for 50 years.

The Hoyo de Monterrey is a perfect example of that mindset. While I don’t taste the famous Cuban Twang in this cigar, I can taste a similarity to the Havana breed.

The focus of the flavor is based on the earthiness of the tobacco. And not a kitchen sink list of exotic flavors.

I don’t really taste the what we have come to expect, chocolate and coffee elements. I taste sweetness.

I’ve smoked 1-1/2”. The flavor has evened out and the explosion of flavors has not happened. And to be honest, I don’t expect it to happen. First, is Dexter’s patience with the cigar and allowing it to rest at least 9 months in his humidor.

I read all the time how smokers boast that they’ve allowed a cigar to rest for a year, two years, or three years. Back when I had a few shekels in my pocket, I did the same thing. But I learned the hard way that extensive aging in your humidor doesn’t do anything other than mellow the flavor and body. What was once a full bodied cigar becomes a medium bodied cigar. The spiciness is usually the first to disappear.

So, I like to let my cigars rest for 4-5 months; at the most. For me, that is the perfect maturation point.

Melding of flavors and still retaining the zip in its step. And my extensively aged cigars? They became a bit on the bland side.

The Hoyo de Monterrey folks consider this a medium/full bodied smoke. It is barely medium after 9 months. The spiciness is totally gone.

I am left with subtle nuance and a pleasant experience.

I know there are a gazillion of you out there that want to punch me in the face and tell me I’m full of shit. But I’ve been smoking cigars for 47 years and this is my opinion. Just my opinion.

The Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend Challenger is so smooth that it reminds me of my blankety when I was a toddler.

The second third begins.

No changes. The song remains the same.

The sweetness is augmented by some caramel. Or maybe butterscotch. Too subtle to tell yet.

The char line has healed itself after a couple of touch ups.

This is not a complex cigar. The flavors are on the same level since they were delivered.

The strength has diminished to mild/medium. Closer to mild than medium.

I would have loved to try this stick at the 3-4 months of humidor time period. Because it ain’t going to come close to medium/full.

I approach the halfway point and to be perfectly honest, the “sameness” of the blend is a bit tiresome. I like some variety in my cigars.

This is a great newbie cigar if you let it rest. I wouldn’t recommend it for the experienced palate. The aficionados amongst us crave surprise and delight. The Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend Challenger does not provide that criteria.

There is no point is listing the flavors as they are the same as my earlier list.

I am going to give it til the beginning of the last third. And if I’m not wowed by something new, I am just going to put it down out of boredom.

A strong dose of vanilla walks across the stage naked; giving it a nice lemon pound cake flavor.
I am dead center at the halfway point.

This is a very pleasant tasting cigar. And since I haven’t smoked a Hoyo in ages, I really don’t know if that’s all there is to this blend.

If a cigar without complexity is your thing…then this is your cigar. But at this price, I can name 117 better cigars that are in the $5-$6 range. See my “Katman’s List of 117 Great Cigars in the $5.00-$6.50 Range.”

Thanks again Dexter for the Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend Challenger.
With almost a third to go, I lay it down in the ashtray and walk away.

And now for something completely different:
Into the Way Back Machine.

I was surprised after moving to Europe and then England in the mid 70’s. Back home in So Cal, damn..we smoked a lot of weed. Hashish was a treat and a luxury. And usually stale.

We get to Europe and that’s all there is. Hash. Weed was harder to smuggle due to its size. It was even worse in England. It was an island.

The only time we got to buy weed was at the Paradiso Club in Amsterdam. And at a premium price for an ounce.

The hash was so much better there than it was here in the States. It had a shorter route for the smugglers. It was fresh and there were varieties. Lots of them. In the States, there were maybe 2 or 3 types.

What I never got used to was the way they smoked hash. Breaking up a cigarette and rolling into a long joint while sprinkling bits of hash into it. Made me sick as a dog. To this day, I haven’t smoked a single cigarette so the nicotine was a killer for me and Skip.

It didn’t take long until we found a pipe shop and bought the perfect sized pipe to smoke our hash. We made sure that when we socialized, we had our own pipes and stash. We always declined the joint full of cigarette tobacco. When we offered a Brit some hash from a pipe, they always declined. “We get too high blokes.” Wimps.

Our tours of the continent of Europe would always bring us back to Amsterdam as our last gig of the tour.

My 1967 Fender Precision bass had a face plate and a hollowed out area underneath for the electronics. I bought as much hash as would fit in that hollowed out section.

When we traveled, I had no choice. My bass had to go with the roadies in the big trucks.

So, in essence, the roadies smuggled my hash over to England for me. The trucks were always inspected by Custom Inspectors and I was never caught.

I never told the roadies I was doing this.

But one day as we landed at Dover, I asked for my bass from the truck. The roadies sighed as they tried to find my bass in a couple trucks full of gear.

Right there in front of them, I took out my jeweler’s screwdriver and removed the cover plate of my bass and removed the hash. Why? We had run out and this was our only source for the ride home to London which was a couple hours away.

We had to have something to smoke on the ride home; especially after that miserable boat ride across the English Channel.

Well, the roadies exploded when they saw I was using them as my mules.

I was the roadies’ favorite member of the band because I was the only one who wasn’t a prima donna. But on this day, they ripped me a new asshole.

I promised to never do it again. And they promised that they would check my bass before they drove it on to the ferry.

Well, I kept on doing it and lying to them that I no longer was smuggling an ounce of hash in my bass. Plus they just didn’t have the time to take my bass out and disassemble it.

So for the next two years this is how I smuggled hash into England. I never sold any. It was my personal stash.
When I got home, my girlfriend gave me a big hug and a kiss and then asked, “Where is he hash?”

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1 reply

  1. These Hoyo’s dont taste anything like the Cuban Hoyo, not a hint of similarity.