Size: 4.5 x 52
Today we take a look at a 2017 Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe.
Thanks to Zach Dinning for the sticks.
“Exclusive. It’s a word that has popped up and an incredible rate throughout the cigar industry in the past decade, with cigar manufacturers creating exclusive products for individual stores, distributors, regions, and pretty much any division or segment you can conjure.
“It’s also not a phenomenon limited to what are often called new world cigar makers; Cuba’s Habanos S.A. has its own series of exclusive cigars, most notably regional editions but also a series of cigars for the flagship stores that carry Habanos S.A. products: La Casa del Habano.
“The first La Casa del Habano was opened in Cancun, Mexico in 1990, and since then the number of franchises has grown to include stores around the world, with a recent search turning up some 88 locations.
“In 2004, a trio of Bolívar cigars—the Belicosos Finos, Hermosos No. 4, and Gold Medal—were released as exclusive cigars made for La Casa del Habano franchises, and since that time the list has added 11 more cigars, with the program getting a formal introduction in 2011.”
“The Hoyo de Monterrey marca was selected to be the brand featured in 2012, with the Epicure de Luxe the first of two releases in the marca for the program; the other coming in 2016 with the Hoyo de Monterrey Elegantes, which also happened to be a rare figurado for the marca.
“The cigars’ exclusivity are distinguished by a secondary band in the colors of La Casa del Habano, with the store’s name featured around the iconic logo in the center.”
An oily, wood colored wrapper full of tooth is an eye catcher. Construction is typically Cuban with it being rustic looking due to lumps and bumps, clearly visible seams, and lots of veins. The stick is on the soft side especially near the foot.
The double cigar bands are beautiful; which is not totally unusual but rare as it seems most Cuban cigar bands are very basic and plain.
AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I can smell butter, cream, fresh berries, cedar, caramel, white pepper, milk chocolate, and a touch of nuttiness.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell milk chocolate, creaminess, sweet butter, caramel, white pepper, and popcorn.
The cold draw presents flavors of raging hot pepper, chocolate, cappuccino, popcorn, fresh berries, caramel, and sponge cake.
The Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe makes an immediate good impression with billows of smoke powering the city of Pittsburgh. Followed by an intense good feeling that I’ve struck gold.
Mild strength but very full bodied. Cubans are plagued with wrapper issues. I get a run in the burn line right off the bat.
Big bottom. A compendium of different spicy peppers gives the blend a real kick in the arse. Full spectrum of creams and caramel nuggets. A lemon meringue pie comes to mind with a bit of citrus tartness. As it is only a 2017 issue, there is a bit of fermentation in the mix that gives it a fresh rolled experience…just a little.
I had to stop retrohaling years ago because of lousy sinuses. I miss it and believe that the flavor profile would be twice as potent if I weren’t such a wuss.
Clapton’s (J.J. Cale) “Cocaine” is playing. Wham. Right back to 1980. All the rage in SoCal like the movie “Blow” described. Everyone was awash in it. It ran like a mudslide in the Ventura Hills. And on the way, I lost several good friends because they didn’t know when to stop. This is your brain. This is your brain after friends overdosed.
The char line is sweet Jane.
In the song, “Walk on the Wild Side,” the song opens with an iconic riff. Two basses were used; one was a bass guitar and the other an upright bass. I learned years ago to play that riff all by myself. Write me bassists and I will tell you how to play it.
Timing. Now I’m listening to “Whole Lotta Love.” Back in 1968, I took a music class and for extra credit, I brought my Hofner in and wrote the main lines to the song on the chalkboard and led the class in how to read bass notes to that song. I got an A. Which is directly opposite of what I got in my Probability & Statistics class.
The Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe is uber complex within the first inch. Transitions flow like a river. The finish is juicy and chewy.
For such a little bugger, this cigar is taking its ol’ sweet time.
Now I took a look at other reviewers’ sites to see how they rated this blend. Almost everyone gave it an 88 or 89. Oliver Stone would think it is a conspiracy and make it into a controversial movie.
That perfect char line goes bat shit crazy on me. Damn.
Bowie playing “Changes.” I have a great up and personal Bowie story I’ve never written about for reasons I won’t disclose at this time but I should put it into digital format for you. No. I didn’t have sex with him…but he certainly liked me. I was a good looking kid back then. I was told I looked like a cross between a young Seinfeld and young Tom Hanks. My recording studio was in the gay district of downtown Long Beach. We had another building next store with rehearsal studios. I always did my best when walking between them to look straight and macho. I swaggered and looked my version of tough. It was a disaster.
I am not doing my job. The cigar blend is a real good time. And for $40 it will perform fellatio.
Batter up: Super creamy, some malts, caramel, fresh fruit, milk chocolate, lemon meringue, popcorn, sweet cashews, cedar, and an avalanche of subtle flavors that choose to remain anonymous in order to complete its secret mission of high premium complexity. Transitions are making a run for the border. Ahhh…the finish. Lovely.
Not a flavor bomb. Not a strong cigar. And yet I love it. And I really don’t like mild strength blends. But this cigar is rocking me baby…all night long.
Smoke time is 30 minutes.
As light and delicate as this wrapper is, there are zero issues with cracking. And since I bitched about how the Muestra de Saka, reviewed yesterday, just came apart on me proves there is a difference in rolling, choice of wrappers, and overall construction. In addition, I smoked several cigars after the review yesterday and not one had a wrapper issue like the Muestra. Go figure.
Strength hits a potent medium. Nice.
Spiciness is a strong black pepper. My throat feels like I’m a fire eater at the carnival.
While the char line issues have been mentioned, they have proven to be so insignificant that I dare not call out its name. Ooops…I just did. (I don’t edit the shit that comes out of my mouth).
This is how a great blend behaves. Starts out with a Soupy Sales pie in the face to get your attention and then escalates to women’s lingerie on the third floor. Ever wear your wife’s panties? Me neither. Although early in our marriage, I did have a toga.
I take a sip of cold coffee and flavors explode accentuating that cappuccino flavor, heavy cream, soft and chewy caramel, popcorn with too much butter, and my favorite: lemon meringue.
Cocoa has disappeared. Sad face.
For a cigar I described as soft before I lit up has turned out to be a hearty nicely filled sausage. It is a slow burner enhancing my Cuban experience. Maybe a Cuban sandwich after the review?
I’ve had my share of crap Cubans. But when they are good…they’re excellent.
Jethro Tull is playing. Ian Anderson. What a prick. Maybe he’s mellowed in old age…but I doubt it. You is what you is.
Strength is a very comfy medium with hints of getting stronger.
The halfway point is here after 45 minutes. Yeah, that surprises me too for a cigar only 4-1/2” long.
We have the “It” factor now. Inexplicably unknown elements of kindness and good intentions. The Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe has transcended and packs its gear and moves to Planet 9. Smacking my lips like a thirsty dog. Or like guys who go to porn theaters. Saw on the news that some politician was caught in a raid sitting in a porn theater jerking off. Haha.
Malts hit hard and heavy boosting the flavor profile to the next step.
Man, those reviewers who sniffed their noses at this blend are nuts. I’m getting primo flavors and a helluva experience from this little puppy. Way better than how they described it.
The first half proved to be an ass kickin’ blend. The second half heads for the stratosphere with a full body of enormous calculations on how a cigar should taste.
The price? $11-$12. See. You don’t need to spend $16 a below par blend when there are plenty of less expensive cigars on the market.
I’ve got a massive 3” boner. After a couple of reviews that sank the ship, smoking this delicacy is happy time.
And now I slurp into the final third.
Smoke time is one hour 5 minutes.
The Grateful Dead is playing. Never got it. (I think I just lost half of my 13 followers.)
And then the Eagles. The Big Lebowski said it best. Dude…I have a cocktail here. I do have a story that took place in the early 70’s while playing in a band with a Playboy centerfold. After a couple months she left to hook up with Glenn Frey.
I should try writing a review completely smashed on good Kentucky bourbon. I already write like an idiot…what could it hurt?
The flavor profile remains the same. But the intensity of the complex nature of this blend is just nuts. I actually find myself slowly smoking it every couple of minutes allowing the cigar to rest between puffs. You are supposed to do this anyway but belay the rules and follow your own palate.
The Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe is about as perfect a cigar as they come. No shit. It is singing an aria to me while doing the tango on my lips.
I don’t understand the reviewers who highly criticized this blend. Clearly, they smoked it too soon or something. Yet this cigar only has 6 months of humi time. Very unusual for a Cuban blend. I see how guys say they have stored their Cubans for years. Some…you don’t need to.
I am bereft of additional adjectives and superlatives to describe the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe. It is stupendous. And you don’t have to spend a fortune.
I would like to thank my readers for their loyalty. While I was out due to illness, my daily readership barely hit 2000 hits per day. Since I’ve now written 7 reviews in a row; not counting the weekend off, my daily readership has skyrocketed to over 6000 hits per day. Maybe not a big deal for the big reviewers but for my cult following of smart weirdos…therefore, I thank you for you allowing me into your world. It is appreciated.
Final smoke time is one hour and 25 minutes.
And now for something completely different:
I thought I’d go back to the beginning story that I published a long time ago about how I became a member of the English progressive band, Curved Air.
“Would you like to come to Europe with us this summer?” asked Skip and Debbie?
“Huh?” I replied with exact articulation.
“We are going to buy one way tickets and go. We thought that we would form a trio of you, me and Travis and head for Greece. And live off of our music. Whatcha’ think?”
My head spun. What a nutty idea. But I was 23 and stupid. I had a steady girlfriend, 3 years younger than me, and she had a 2 year old daughter. I called her and told her of my plans. And then asked if she wanted to come with me? She said yes. Oh God. In retrospect, that was a huge mistake. If they weren’t with me, I wouldn’t have felt the need to come home after I was fired from Curved Air and left broke. But I loved her; so my decision made no sense for my career; which was in England.
We left America and landed in Amsterdam with our one way tickets. And not enough cash on us to turn around and fly back. Make or break time.
We figured it would motivate us more if were stuck and penniless. A really stupid plan.
After 6 weeks in Europe, we were broke. We figured the dough we brought with us would last for months. Man, we were wrong.
With what little dough we had left, we decided that if we were to be poor, and on the streets, better we were in a country that spoke English. So we took the ferry from Calais, France to Dover, England….everyone puking the whole way. The English Channel is one of the roughest waterways in the world.
After a couple weeks of spinning our wheels and checking “Melody Maker’s” musician want ads every day, we were really, really broke. The girls found gigs as maids in a hotel. So we were able, at least, to eat. We lived in a dungeon flat on the west side of London…a tony area.
I called a phone number for a roadie gig, but it was also the phone number for a bassist wanted gig. I was dying for any job.
The voice on the other end suggested that I try out for the band and if I didn’t make it, I could look at the roadie gig. So an audition was set.
There was trepidation from my friends. We had come as a group…sort of. Prior to leaving for Europe, Travis got drunk and wrapped his bike around a tree, a block from our house one late night, and splattered his leg into a million pieces. He spent months in a VA hospital and our plans got all fucked up. But the tickets were paid for and we decided not to scrap the plan.
I had 5£ left on me. I spent half of it getting to the audition in St. John’s Wood. The home of Miles Copeland III. It was a block away from Abbey Road (EMI) Studio. (Stewart Copeland lived a couple doors down in a flat. And we would sit on the stoop and watch tourists trying to get that famous crosswalk photo….but it was a busy street and English drivers made it a point to run down tourists.)
I was ushered downstairs to the practice room. It was encased in glass and I saw the band playing with another bassist. As I entered the lounge, my heart sank. There had to be at least 20 other bassists waiting their turn. As I sat and listened to the same songs being played over and over again to test the bass players, I played my own versions in my head. Time dragged on unmercifully.
I could hear the whispers of the other guys as they discussed who was sitting, and waiting, with us. Apparently, players of note had arrived and the other players felt it was becoming a waste of time. So did I. So I got up, grabbed my bass, and left.
I got as far as halfway down the driveway when Stewart Copeland came after me.
“Hey douche bag! Where do you think you’re going?”
I told him I didn’t do cattle call auditions. He insulted me again and grabbed my arm and pulled me back downstairs. He told me: “Sit down and shut the fuck up.”
My turn finally arrived. With the words, “You know, we’ve been playing the same shit all day. Why don’t you give us something to play?” The color and blood drained from my body.
So I tied my balls to the hitching post and played a jazz fusion hyper kinetic riff. They joined in and we went to town.
At the time, every bassist in England sounded like Chris Squire of Yes. Very technical, but no soul. I,, on the other hand, had been playing like the players on the CTI label in America. Funky and jazzy. Very Stanley Clarke-ish, Ron Carter, James Jamerson, Jaco, and others.
They went nuts over me. We kept playing and I played my ass off in the time allotted.
When we were done, I was introduced to everyone. The keyboard player was Darryl Way. A very famous violinist with the group Curved Air.
I had no idea who that band was. That’s because, while Curved Air, was huge in Europe, they had bombed in America. They sounded like a cross between “Jefferson Airplane” and “It’s a Beautiful Day.” Both bands had chick singers and were considered progressive rock.
But this was not Curved Air. Curved Air had folded two years earlier. Miles grabbed Darryl from Darryl’s own band, “Wolf,” and said he’d build a great band around him. The band was formed and a singer was the last member needed. We became “Stark Naked and the Car Thieves.” We played out a couple times for a pittance. In small clubs.
One day, Darryl comes to rehearsal and says we have to put the band on hold for a couple of months because Curved Air had a record deal that had to be completed with Decca… so they figured the easiest approach was to do a live album. Go on tour as Curved Air with the original members, record a couple of gigs and voila! An album.
“Kohn. You’re going to be the bassist.”
Huh? (My favorite expression.)
Rehearsals began in Covent Garden (London’s vegetable warehouse section) where a very cool rehearsal studio existed. They knew the music. I didn’t. And it was complicated. All the players had serious classical backgrounds. The violinist and keys player are now world famous composers of symphonies and operas.
So most of the rehearsal time was spent drinking tea and eating biscuits (cookies).
I thought we were doing club gigs until we drove up to the Round House in London. It seated thousands and we headlined.
I remember freaking out because since I didn’t know the songs very well, I had cheat sheets on a music stand. No music stands at the Round House would look very good for a rock n roll band.
And then I remember, “Ladies and Gentlemen….For the first time in 2 years…CURVED AIR!!!!
“1-2-3-4,” screamed Darryl.
(As it turned out, the best album I did with Curved Air was the “Live” album -still available new on Amazon, eBay, and everywhere else. Type in “Curved Air.”)
To be continued….
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS