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Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure (EL 2013)

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For the seventh time, Hoyo de Monterrey was selected for an Edición Limitada release in 2013, this time the 5 1/8 x 55 Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure.

First started by Habanos S.A. in 2000, the Edición Limitada series is a trio of non-standard production vitolas for various brands with wrapper that is aged for two years and oftentimes from higher primings, resulting in darker cigars. Each of the Edición Limitada releases has two bands, and while the main band usually uses a standard production band for whatever brand is being released, there are examples where new main bands are produced for a specific cigar.

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There were three Edición Limitadas announced for 2013, and they are:

  • Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure Edición Limitada 2013 (5 1/8 x 55) — Robusto
  • Punch Serie D’Oro No. 2 Edición Limitada 2013 (5 1/2 x 52) — Pyramid
  • Romeo y Julieta De Luxe Edición Limitada 2013 (6 1/4 x 52) — Double Robusto 

The Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure is offered in 10-count boxes that look like this:

Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure  EL 2013 Box 1 Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure  EL 2013 Box 2

Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure  EL 2013 Box 3

(Via Habanos S.A.)

Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure  EL 2013 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure Edición Limitada 2013
  • Country of Origin: Cuba
  • Factory: n/a
  • Wrapper: Cuba
  • Binder: Cuba
  • Filler: Cuba
  • Size: 5 1/8 
  • Ring Gauge: 55
  • Vitola: Montesco
  • Est. Price: $18.00 (Box of 10 Cigars, $180.00)
  • Date Released: August 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

Covered in a dark chocolate brown color wrapper, the Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure is extremely firm to the touch, and has just the tiniest amount of oil present. There are very few veins present, but quite a few bumps up and down the length of the stick are noticeable. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of cocoa, earth, leather and barnyard, along with just a slight pepper.

The first third of the Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure Edición Limitada 2013 starts out a little harsh, although flavors of strong earth, dark chocolate, bitter espresso, leather and cedar can be discerned, and the harshness dies down after the first half inch or so. There are almost equal parts sweetness and bitterness on the finish after that with the generic sweetness coming out on top slightly. I am noticing a bit of pepper on the retrohale at certain points, but it comes and goes, and is just not that strong so far. Construction-wise, the draw is a quite a bit looser than I like, albeit still smokable, and the burn is wavy, although not problematic as of yet. The smoke production is extremely copious, and smells strongly of wood. Overall strength is fairly tame so far, and barely hits the mild side of medium at the end of the first third. 

Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure  EL 2013 2

The leather note takes over dominance in the second third of the Grand Epicure, easily overwhelming pretty much all other flavors in the cigar for about 10 puffs before calming down again and letting other flavors of creamy nuts, coffee and earth become noticeable. The pepper from the first third has increased noticeably, and while it has become a major player in the profile, the level is does not stay consistent. The smoke production is still well above average, but unfortunately, the construction problems get worse, with a draw that is still much too loose and a burn that has to be touched up a few times to keep from running on me. Strength-wise, the Grand Epicure has increased, but only slightly, and ends the second third close to the medium mark, but not quite over it yet.

Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure  EL 2013 3

The final third of the Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure is much the same as the second third, with the notable exception of the leather flavor, which begins to recede quickly, replaced immediately by a generic combination of earth and wood. The other notes stay the same: coffee, slightly creamy nuts and chocolate. The black pepper on the retrohale continues to ebb and flow, sometimes quite strong ,especially near the end of the smoke. Construction-wise, the draw remains loose until the end, but the burn evens up a little to finish better than I expected after seeing the first two thirds. While the strength does increase to a solid medium in the final third, the Grand Epicure never comes close to going over that mark, and I put down the nub with about an inch left.

Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure  EL 2013 4 

Final Notes: 

  • The other years Hoyo de Monterrey has been selected for Edición Limtiads are: 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2011.
  • Although the press release states that the Grand Epicure would be the first Edición Limitada to market, that proved not to be the case, as the Punch Serie D’Oro No. 2 beat it slightly.
  • The name Epicure has been used quite often in the Hoyo de Monterrey marca, with three of the last five limited or special editions using the name. There are also three regular production releases that use the name: the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 1, the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 and the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Especial.
  • The smoke production on this cigar is massive, dense with a grayish tint to it, and rolls off the foot even when it is sitting. Not quite Liga Privada levels, but it surprised me nevertheless.
  • The first releases in the Edición Limitada series in 2000 had black and gold secondary bands with the words Edición Limitada printed on it , but no date. Starting in 2001, the relevant date was added underneath the Edición Limitada line.
  • The large ring gauge is just too large on this release, and it really impacted my enjoyment of the cigar overall.
  • Unlike most Edición Limitadas, the main band that are included on this release are a little larger than the normal Hoyo de Monterrey band, and have the words Grand Epicure in red underneath the logo.
  • Interestingly, the Punch Serie D’Oro No. 2 was the first Edición Limitada in the Punch marca.
  • Consistency seems to be an issue with this release, as I have talked to two people who have had multiple samples from multiple boxes, and each of them told me the same thing: every third or fourth sample is excellent, but the ones before and after those have profiles that are muddled, poor construction and off flavors.
  • The average smoking time for all three samples of the Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure was right around one hour and 25 minutes.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were traded for by the reviewer. The cigars came from an EMS box.
78 Overall Score

I have always been a fan of the regular production Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.2, and unfortunately, the Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure Edición Limitada 2013 is a shadow of that release in more ways than one. It is obviously young, but the problems go deeper, with a noticeable harshness to the blend at certain points, various construction issues and a profile that is so muddled it just never really goes anywhere interesting. Is it possible that they will turn around after a few years? Of course, but the way some of the regular production Cuban releases are smoking recently, it is just not worth the gamble. In fact, for about the same price as a box of these, I would much rather have a cabinet of recent aforementioned Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.2, which is a much better cigar in just about every way.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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