While Edición Limitadas, Edición Regionals and (Gran) Reservas get most of the attention as far as new Cuban cigars are concerned, Habanos S.A.’s family of exclusives for its La Casa del Habano franchises has grown to an impressive number.
The La Casa del Habano (LCDH) program is a franchise program that has roughly 140 stores in 65 countries. Retail stores that are part of the LCDH network are required to meet a variety of standards for both service and inventory of Cuban cigars. In return, the stores receive not only exclusive products, but typically also receive new limited products before other stores.
For 2018, the LCDH exclusive was the Hoyo de Monterrey Escogidos, which is Spanish for selected. It’s a 7 1/11 (180mm) x 49 double corona, though about a half inch shorter than the actual Hoyo de Monterrey Double Coronas. Like the rest of the LCDH releases, it features a maroon secondary band that has the LCDH logo.
The first LCDH exclusives were introduced in 2004, and since 2006 Habanos S.A. has released a new LCDH exclusive annually. For 2019, Habanos S.A. will release the first Cohiba cigar as part of thee LCDH program, the Cohiba Novedosos.
- Bolívar Belicosos Finos (2004)
- Bolívar Hermosos No.4 (2004)
- Bolívar Gold Medal (2004)
- San Cristóbal Muralla (2006)
- San Cristóbal Mercaderes (2006)
- San Cristóbal Oficios (2006)
- Partagás Culebras (2007)
- Partagás Salomones (2008)
- H. Upmann Noellas (2009)
- La Gloria Cubana Inmensos (2010)
- Ramón Allones Allones Superiores (2010)
- H. Upmann Royal Robusto (2011)
- Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe (2012)
- Bolívar Libertador (2013)
- Romeo y Julieta Cedros de Luxe (2014)
- La Gloria Cubana Pirámides (2015)
- La Gloria Cubana Robustos Extra (2015)
- Hoyo de Monterrey Elegantes (2016)
- Trinidad La Trova (2017)
- Hoyo de Monterrey Escogidos (2018)
The Escogidos debuted in late September in Poland. It is priced at €15.90 ($18.71) per cigar in Germany.
- Cigar Reviewed: Hoyo de Monterrey Escogidos
- Country of Origin: Cuba
- Factory: n/a
- Wrapper: Cuba
- Binder: Cuba
- Filler: Cuba
- Length: 7 1/11 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 49
- Vitola: Double Corona (Pacos)
- Est. Price: $18.70 (Boxes of 10, $187)
- Release Date: September 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
At first, I wonder where the shine has gone on the Hoyo de Monterrey wrapper color, but then I realize the culprit is the secondary band. The reddish brown color seems to absorb a lot more of the wrapper’s shine than I would have imagined. Still, I think this wrapper is darker and a bit duller than the wrappers of the last few Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Especials I’ve had. Aroma off the wrapper is medium-full with a very pungent barnyard and some earthiness. The foot is sweeter and thicker with a defined chocolate sweetness, graham cracker and a bit of a prune juice smell. From the cold draw, I pick up a lot more flavors thanks to super sweet cocoa, graham cracker, oranges and breadiness. That flavor is full, but I’m somewhat distracted by the draw, which is quite tight.
The Hoyo de Monterrey Escogidos begins with a semi-sweet mixture of earthiness, creaminess and nuttiness. While that doesn’t inherently sound bad, it’s a very distinct flavor that I find on certain Cuban brands when the draw is tight. I’m not sure if this a mental issue on my part or something that is a result of the internal combustion within the cigar, but the flavors are both muted and a tad bit harsh. The draw, in case it wasn’t clear, isn’t great. It’s neither plugged nor does there appear to be a big twist, but I can feel—when taking a puff—that the air is not going through as it should. The flavor continues down that path, getting earthier in the initial flavor, while retrohales taste of wet leaves, nuttiness and sugar water. On two of the cigars I can pick up lighter notes of the twang flavor. Flavor is medium-full, while body and strength are medium-plus.
There’s not a ton of change in the second third of the Escogidos. The draw its still problematic, the flavor is still suffering and I find myself touching it up a bit more. In terms of changes, the most notable is that my mouth is much drier than before. One sample has a bit of a tar flavor, which isn’t terribly surprising, but I don’t find it on the other two cigars. Intensity-wise the flavor, body and strength are still in the same spot as before, though if I had to find a difference, the body might be a tad bit stronger than before.
If you are hoping to read about anything different, I would suggest moving on down the review as there’s not much to report as far as changes. The flavor of the Hoyo de Monterrey bitters a bit, though I still am able to pick up notes like sugar water, and at times, floral flavors. On the positive side, I don’t have to touch up the cigar as much in the final third, though my lighter still has to be used a bit.
- I wouldn’t describe this as plugged, rather more along the lines of twisted. All three cigars drew the exact same way, so credit for consistency, although our scoresheet doesn’t give any points for that.
- On first examination, I thought this cigar was the classic 7 x 47 Churchill size, which Hoyo de Monterrey had as a regular production size until 2012. I am honestly not 100 percent sure I’ve smoked one.
- While I think the red LCDH band works with Ramón Allones and other brands that have more yellow in their main band, I don’t think it does much to help the look of the Hoyo de Monterrey band.
- The Hoyo de Monterrey band is my favorite band of all time. I particularly like it with its complementary secondary band like on the Epicure Especial.
- We purchased these cigars from a German LCDH. Of note, the box code on the box versus the cardboard cover box was different. The exterior shipping box had LGR OCT 18 while the interior box had LGR SEP 18. I can understand how this happens, but I imagine this would have been concerning had these boxes not been purchased directly.
- As far as weird things with Cuban cigar packaging this isn’t even close to the top of the list.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 10 minutes on average.
For many years, the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Especial has been my favorite regular production Cuban cigar to buy and smoke. It’s not because I think the Epicure Especial is the absolute best, I just find them too be relatively consistent and without many of the construction issues, high prices and spotty availability that plague some of my other favorite regular production Cuban cigars. Had the Escogidos been the Epicure Especial in a nearly Churchill size, I would have been very happy. And perhaps it is. Ultimately, this review speaks more about how the tobacco was bunched than the tobacco itself.