Origin : Cuba
Format : Robusto Extra (Gordito)
Size : 141 x 19.84 mm
Ring : 50
Price : ~$275 for a box of 25
More info about purchasing Hoyo de Monterrey cigars...
The Epicure Especial is widely considered the crème de la crème of the Hoyo de Monterrey line, and I would tend to concur. This is one of my favorite Cubans, at this size, for the price. It is a medium bodied cigar that falls right into my personal preferences. I paired this cigar with a light red wine in the first third. Two 'Illy' double espressos in the second (no I ain't gonna sleep tonight), and alternated between a bit of whiskey and filtered water on the last (in hindsight water alone would have been just fine).
The Epicure is in general a very nice looking cigar with a beautiful dark brown wrapper. I really like the Monterrey band, and the Epicure Especial double band is quite well done. Habanos SA seems to have realised this, and is now also offering the Epicure No. 2 in the same double band format for its 2009 production. The wrapper for this particular Especial was quite smooth with a very toothy binder showing through, just a bit too toothy in fact... - half a star.
The burn was just about a quarter inch uneven throughout. Probably, I smoked this cigar a bit too avariciously. It still lasted a good 80 minutes, even though I ended up butting it out a bit less than an inch before the end (more on that later).
The ash was quite solid, and not too flaky, falling off only twice during the entire length, and the second time due to my dropping it (yes, I had started on the whiskey by then). I have seen much better constructed Especials than this, and probably I am being a bit too harsh on my rating here, but I will give this particular Especial 3.5 stars.
The wrapper smelled of spices and earth. Pre-draw was both herbacious and earthy. Upon light up there is a short spicy bang. There is also a very fine Cuban twang, particular to the HdM line, which lasts evenly throughout the cigar's length. Woody undertones soon surface as well as slight hints of earth and mushrooms. Quite a bit of smoke is produced, and one gets the impression of there being a lot of depth to this cigar. The after-taste is pleasant and herby.
In the second third both, cocoa and spice with a chili-like, though mild flavour, made their appearance. The earthy tones started to come out more as well. In the last third, the spicy tones faded and the earthy and mushroom flavours came to the fore. Unfortunately, in the last 6th the flavours faded out almost completely leaving just the twang and a simple tobacco taste. This has not happened to me with other Especials, but this one loses a star. I butted out three quarters of an inch or more before the nub due to the general lack of flavour. I strongly believe even just a bit of aging would correct this problem. The cigar was never harsh.
As stated previously, I personally feel this is really one of the best values you can get at this size.
Overall Rating :
This is and remains one of my preferred Cuban Robusto Extras. If you like Medium bodied cigars, you will not be disapointed. For those who like alot of spice and power in their cigars, you may be better served elsewhere like with the Trinidad Robusto Extra I recently reviewed (though it is far from being in the same price range).