Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Epicure

Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Epicure

Origin : HondurasArturo Fuente
Format : Robusto
Size : : 5 1/4″ x 50
Wrapper : Connecticut Shade
Binder : Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler : Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Dominican
Price : $30 for a 5-pack

I am always on the lookout for non-Cuban cigars that I can add to my collection. I have often heard about the Hoyo De Monterrey Excalibur but never had the opportunity to try it. While in Manhattan a few months back I decided to seek them out and was able to find a 5-pack for $30.00. I was told by the clerk that they did not have many more available and that they sell out pretty quick. I figured it had something to do with the very affordable price of $6.00 a cigar and was actually hoping that it had more to do with the cigar itself. The MSRP for this cigar is $5.00 so I am sure that you can find this cigar online for that price. So how does this $5.00 to $7.00 robusto-sized cigar hold up? I wanted to be as fair as possible so I smoked two cigars 4 days apart. The following is my review detailing my experience.

Appearance : Rating: ★★½☆☆
The first one I smoked, which is the one photographed above, looked decent enough. It had a sloppy double cap, minimal veining and no real visible seams with a nice oily wrapper. The double cap was poorly applied on this sample. The band takes on the color of the cigar wrapper and offers little contrast. This might be petty but I wasn’t too pleased with the overall look of the band. The second cigar had a cracked wrapper and another poorly applied cap. You can clearly see the cracks in the wrapper and the poorly applied cap in the following image.

Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Epicure

The second cigar also had considerably more veins and more visible seams. It looked rustic and was inconsistent compared to the first one. This somewhat surprised me because these cigars do come packaged in cellophane.

Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Epicure

The cigars had a tobacco and oaky nose. The foot offered up very muted woodsy and natural tobacco aromas. After applying a straight cut, the pre-light draw, which was excellent, offered up some very mild tobacco, wood and leathery notes. The same was true on both samples.

Construction : Rating: ★★½☆☆
This cellophane-packaged cigar is comprised of a mix of Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Dominican filler with a Connecticut broadleaf binder and a Conneticut shade wrapper. These wrappers are notoriously fragile and, using a straight cut, the wrapper did crack even though I was sure to wet it in my mouth before snipping it. I used a punch on the second one, the one that came out of the cellophane with the cracked wrapper. If you are going to smoke these cigars I would highly suggest the use of a punch cut. The punch did not affect the overall draw of the cigar. Both were consistent and good in that regard. The double cap could have been applied better and had a tear in the leaf of the first. Both were poorly applied. As for the burn, the first cigar needed 2 major corrections. The second one I smoked had a decent burn for about ¼ of the cigar before it too started to waver considerably requiring a touch-up. The draw was good on both the straight cut and the punch cut samples. The band came off with ease. The white ash held firm but was flaky at times. I was very disappointed with the overall construction of these cigars. The second cigar I smoked started to crack at many spots while I was smoking it. Granted, these wrappers are notoriously fragile however this is no excuse. I’ve smoked many Connecticut wrapper cigars with no cracking during smoking. I was extremely disappointed in how this cigar held up during smoking.

Flavor : Rating: ★★☆☆☆
I experienced similar flavors in both cigars so I will not go back and forth between the two. If there was one difference it was the second one I smoked seemed to have a little stronger red pepper flavour than the first one. The rest of the flavour profile was pretty much the same.

The cigar offered up flavors of red pepper, earth and wood on lighting. The smoke output was significant. I was immediately greeted with a red pepper finish with notes of oak, leather and earth. Salt was noticeable on the lips. The smoke was thick and had some richness to it offering up minor hints of cocoa and cream. I found the red pepper hitting the tip of my tongue on every draw and with a more subdued red pepper finish lingering on the back of my tongue. The predominant flavors in the first third were earth and grass with only mild touches of vanilla and coffee. There was some noticeable saltiness on the palate. The peppery finish was long. The burn started to go wavy on me in the first third of the first cigar but slowly evened out. The second cigar’s burn held up for about a quarter of the way. The thick smoke offered up some hints of vanilla and coffee.

By the end of the first third I felt more red pepper hitting me at the tip of the tongue with back end reminding me more of white pepper. The flavor profile hadn’t changed all that much, I did get only the occasional coffee and cocoa notes but not enough to take away the primary woodsy and leathery taste of the cigar. This cigar smoke remained thick but didn’t have much of the texture as it did at the start of the cigar, actually decreasing to just plain natural tobacco flavor. Much of the vanilla and coffee hints I got in the first third were gone. I must say that this cigar was extremely dry on the pallet and I recommend you have it with water or a cold drink. Often times I felt my mouth drying out quite quickly after every puff.

The second third saw the pepper become more subdued almost disappearing entirely by the halfway point on both samples. The cigar didn’t offer anything new. Instead the flavors diminished and I struggled to get any real discernable flavor out of the cigar, mostly tasting natural tobacco and earth. Some unpleasing bitterness started to creep into the flavor profile during the second third and was really noticeable by the halfway mark. On the fist sample, the burn which started to waver near the start of the second third finally needed correction at the halfway mark when it became obvious it was not going to correct itself.

As I reached the halfway mark the cigar was truthfully quite bland and boring. The flavor reminded me of damp wood with some leather, grass and earth. The occasional puff hit me with some peppery heat but it was inconsistent in that regard. The smoke remained thick but offered no complimentary flavors and lost all texture. Disappointingly, this bitter and bland flavor remained until just before I reached the band. Both cigars exhibited the same type of bland bitterness.

The final third of the cigar saw the re-emergence of some red pepper like heat both at the front end of the palate and in the finish but it couldn’t compensate for the grassy, damp wood and bland earthy flavors that dominated the cigar from about the halfway point on. Yes, there were some subtle coffee notes but mostly bitter ones. The nicotine was not overpowering but started to become noticeable as I entered the final third. Some hints of vanilla and cream re-emerged in the smoke but quickly faded.

Quite honestly, I had to force myself to finish the cigar because of the fact I was reviewing it or I honestly would have laid it to rest shortly after the halfway point. The second cigar wasn’t so lucky. After having had enough, I laid it to rest just past the halfway mark when I was convinced I wasn’t going to get anything different than the first sample.

Value : Rating: ★★½☆☆
I would not spend another cent on this cigar. The MSRP for this cigar is $5.00. I paid $6.00. The price was fair but for smoking enjoyment it was over priced. I honestly felt as though I was smoking a “cheap” cigar. There are plenty better cigars in this price range. I doubt I will smoke another from my 5 pack. In my mind, value is only important if you intend to buy more. I don’t. However, if grassy, boring cigars are your thing, then I guess the $5.00 MSRP is a great price.

Overall Rating : Rating: ★★½☆☆ (2.375)
The Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Epicure offered some promise at the start, with subtle coffee notes coming through the mainly woodsy and grassy flavors. The cigar offered up some vanilla-like richness but quickly turned into plain tobacco-flavoured smoke with no velvety richness that had been noticed at the start. The smoke output did remain full however throughout the entire duration of the cigar but lacked any texture. By the halfway mark I was smoking a bland, grassy cigar offering up only bitterness and plain tobacco flavors that were quite frankly boring.

The spice was pleasant when it was there and I wish it had remained consistent in that regard. Any hints of coffee or vanilla were short lived. It was quite dry, often leaving my mouth pasty. I was utterly disappointed with my experience with this cigar.