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Cuban Cigars

Famous Cuban Cigars: Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

Full disclosure. The Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 is one of my top three Cuban cigars of all time. It’s a classic Cuban Robusto at 4.875 x 50, and it sells for about US$31 in London. I saw it in Mexico about three years ago for as little at US$10, but I doubt it’s available for so little anymore, though that’s about the going price in Cuba.

A LITTLE HISTORY

Hoyo de Monterrey is a legacy Cuban cigar brand. The brand was registered in Cuba in 1865 by José Gener y Batet, another of those Spanish immigrants who ended up in the cigar industry. At the age of 13, Gener (pronounced HEH-Nerr) worked on his uncle’s plantation in Cuba’s premier tobacco growing region, Pinar del Rio. At the age of 33, he would begin a cigar line, La Escepción (The Exception), that gained some success. Gener used the profits from this venture to buy one of Pinar del Rio’s best plantations. This resulted in the creation of Hoyo de Monterrey.

The name literally means “hole of Monterrey.” The hole part refers to the concave terrain that growers like. The Monterrey part comes from the name of the plantation that Gener bought, the Basin of Monterrey, next to a river. The brand became hugely popular in the British Market and the Gener factory became one of Cuba’s largest in the late 1800s. Gener died in 1900 and his daughter took over the business for the next 30 years.

In 1931, the Gener cigar interests, including Hoyo and La Escepción, were sold to the owners of the Punch brand. By 1958, the new company’s brands accounted for 13 percent of Cuban cigar exports.

THE EPICURE NO. 2

The Epicure No. 2 is part of Hoyo de Monterrey’s Epicure line. This includes the Epicure Especial (Toro), the Epicure No. 1 (Toro), the Epicure Deluxe (Petit Robusto). There are also limited editions and regional releases. Don’t get confused.

My sense is that the Epicure No. 2 has always been in the shadow of the Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona, 7.6 x 49, about US$52 in London, and about US$23 in Cuba. The Double Corona’s stature seemed to take off when basketball mega superstar Michael Jordan acknowledged publicly it was his favorite cigar. Lately, my experience with both vitolas shows that the Epicure No. 2 is a bit more consistent in showing the nuance and complexity that is quintessential of the better Cuban Robustos. That does not mean that the Epicure No. 2 is a mild cigar. It is in the traditional Cuban range of medium strength.

FLAVOR

The Epicure No. 2 is, indeed, medium-bodied, but packs a lot of complexity. There’s some rich nuttiness and notes of honey and brown sugar. There’s a toastiness to the finish when the cigar is right and all of this makes the Epicure No. 2, in my opinion, a very sophisticated smoke.

COMPARISONS

If you’re interested in how the Epicure No. 2 compares with the Double Corona, I find the latter a bit sweeter and a bit more floral, with a nutty finish. My suggestion is to compare the Epicure No. 2 with your favorite Cuban Robustos. In my case, they are the Partagas Serie D No. 4 and the Bolivar Royal Corona.

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