Origin : Cuba
Format : Robusto
Size : 124 x 19.84 mm (4 7/8 x 50)
Box code : Dec 2011
Weight : 11.66 g
Price : ~$250 for a box of 25
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The robusto is my preferred vitola. The Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 is perhaps one of the most popular robustos on the market and is one of those handful of cigars that must always be stocked in my humidor for good reason. This cigar has been reviewed many times because of its popularity. I wanted to share my own experience with this cigar. This sample came from a 25-count box purchased in Cuba earlier this year. It carries a box date of December 2011.
Usually the most popular cigars that come out of Cuba suffer some construction issues because of demand. Despite the popularity of this cigar, I was pleased to find that the construction was exceptional. The slightly darker than Colorado shade wrapper had a nice sheen to it and was firm to the touch with no visible imperfections or tangible soft spots. The cap was nicely applied and the double band gave the cigar a very classy look. It had two very prominent veins that ran the length of the cigar which resulted in the half star deduction. The pre-draw had earthy tones with some hints of cedar. The pre-light aroma was very pleasing, woodsy/earthy with a sweet undertone.
The cigar held nicely during the smoke. No wrapper issues to report. The draw was a tad firm to start but by the first cm or so it opened up beautifully and was never an issue the rest of the way. The Epicure No. 2 let off a great volume of smoke and the brownish/white ash was firm, lasting well over an inch at the beginning but became more flaky around the midway point. The burn was dead even and very impressive. Note the even burn after I removed the first of this double banded cigar. If I had one issue is that I did have to apply some flame to the cigar after the second band was removed to keep it lit. Not a big issue but enough from keeping this cigar from getting a perfect score when coupled with the aforementioned tight draw to start.
Despite the cigar still being relatively young, I didn’t get any hints of ammonia. I often say that the beauty of Hoyo cigars is that they can be smoked on an empty stomach without fear of experiencing any nicotine related issues. Novice smokers though are always advised to ensure they have a full stomach when smoking robustos simply because they can creep up on you. Let us not mistake it however. What it lacked in nicotine punch was more than adequately compensated by full-bodied flavour. As such, while this is not an overwhelmingly strong cigar, it is extremely full-bodied in flavour.
The smoke coming off the cigar at every puff was sweet and very velvety; feeling at times like it was leaving a bit of caramel on my tongue. The pleasing sweetness made my mouth water. I was immediately greeted with a very pleasant sweetness and hints of white pepper. Soon after lighting I noticed the emergence of coffee flavours with some hints of tea leaf and white pepper. I picked up some mild salt on my lips and palate that remained discernible the entire length of the cigar. I did not mind this though because it served to beautifully balance the sweetness of the cigar. As I approached the end of the first third I found that the sweet coffee like flavour became more chocolaty sweet with hints of cocoa and dark chocolate emerging. Occasional undertones of cedar and pepper continued to be noticeable.
By the final third the cigar really started to show outstanding characteristics. The velvety smoke continued to have hints of sweet coffee that complimented the slightly salty and peppery finish. Hints of dark chocolate remained as did some cedar undertones but the overall finish of the cigar was sweet and long and left me feeling extremely satisfied.
Overall the Epicure No. 2 was very balanced and showed signs of complexity with a few very discernible and pleasurable flavour changes. These subtle changes are what keeps a cigar from being one dimensional. The texture of the smoke remained consistent and provided the cigar with the sweetness it needed to keep the white pepper, occasional bitterness and subtle saltiness in check. I wish all my cigars would have as much smoke per puff as this one does.
If I had to best describe the flavour journey the cigar went from sweet coffee tones to dark unsweetened chocolate, hints of cedar and hints of tea. A pleasing mild salt and pepper was evident throughout serving to nicely balance the sweetness of this very flavourful cigar.
It’s easy to see why this robusto is one of the more highly rated and popular cigars in this vitola. On a personal note, I would prefer just a little more strength to this fantastic cigar. Strength is subjective and personal however therefore it does not affect my flavour rating.
As with most Cuban cigars, these can get a little pricey depending on your source. This cigar is truly in the league of the Partagas Serie D No. 4 (Perhaps one of the best robustos on the market) with a more subdued nicotine punch. The flavours are very enjoyable, the construction is solid and it is easy to see why this cigar remains one of the most popular robustos to come off the Island. The bouquet is extremely satisfying and it has a very nice long finish. I purchased mine on the Island and paid $142.50 (Cuban Pesos) for a box of 25. At that price ($5.70 Cuban pesos per cigar) they are a steal but we all know that in the real world that isn’t the price that most readers will pay. I have seen them sell for as little as $9.50 (un-verified online sources) to as much as $24.00 per cigar here in tax happy Canada but these cigars can be found in the $13-$16.00 range. In my opinion they are definitely worth having in your humidor and are priced very competitively compared to other top robustos. Shop around because I am sure you can get them for a decent price.
Overall Rating :
This is perhaps one of the most flavourful robustos on the market. Thankfully, construction hasn’t been affected despite the cigar’s popularity. This is a cigar that can be enjoyed early in the day by more seasoned smokers and is one that novice smokers should enjoy to see what a complex and flavourful cigar should taste like. There is always space set aside in my humidor for these flavour bombs.
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