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Review: Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Gourmet (1994)

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Hoyo de Monterrey is not one of the more prolific Cuban brands even with its status of being one of Habanos’ Global Brands. That status places it amongst the likes of Cohiba, Montecristo, Partagás and Romeo y Julieta, meaning that it is one of Habanos’ larger distributed brands.

The current rendition of Wikipedia’s history of the brand reads as follows:

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In 1831, Don José Gener y Batet emigrated to Cuba from Spain at the age of thirteen, where he worked on his uncle’s plantation in Vuelta Abajo. Twenty years later, he would open his own cigar factory in Havana and begin producing his own cigar line, La Escepción. In 1865, after using his factory’s profits to acquire one of the best tobacco farms in Vuelta Abajo, he registered a cigar line named for it: Hoyo de Monterrey.

Literally translating from Spanish to English as “the hole of Monterrey” in reference to the concave terrain favored by growers of premium tobacco, the brand became incredibly popular, especially in the British market, and José Gener’s factory subsequently became one of the largest factories in Cuba. In 1900, Gener died in Spain and his daughter Lutgarda Gener took over the business and it would stay in the family for another thirty years.

In 1931, the Gener family sold their cigar brands in order to focus more on their sugar cane properties. The firm of Fernández, Palicio y Cía bought the Hoyo de Monterrey and La Escepción brands and added them to their impressive lineup, which already included Punch and Belinda. Around this time in the 1940s, the Le Hoyo series (along with the Chateaux series which would later be used to create the Davidoff cigar line) was created for Swiss distributor A Dürr Co.. After the death of partner Ramón Fernández, Fernando Palicio became sole proprietor of the business and by 1958 his cigar lines accounted for 13% of all Havana cigar exports.

After the government of Cuba unilaterally expropriated the company from its legitimate owners, Fernando Palicio voluntarily left Cuba for Florida. He subsequently sold his cigar lines to the Villazon family, which continued to make Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey, and Belinda cigars in their Tampa, Florida factory from Honduran tobacco for the American market.

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The Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Gourmet is one of Hoyo’s many vitolas, although it’s not one of the popular vitolas the brand is known for. The Le Hoyo du Gourmet is a Slim Panatela that measures at 170 MM (6 9/13 inches) x 33.

While the cigar, like many of there of the Le Hoyo series, has been around since the before the Cuban Revolution, but up until 2005 was without a band. This version is from 1994, meaning that it is without the classic Hoyo bands.

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But enough of that, let’s get down to business shall we?

Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Gourmet  1994 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Gourmet (1994)
  • Country of Origin: Cuba
  • Factory: n/a
  • Wrapper: Cuba
  • Binder: Cuba
  • Filler: Cuba
  • Size: 6 9/13 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 33
  • Vitola: Slim Panatela
  • Est. Price: $15.00 (Boxes of 25, $275.00)
  • Release Date: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 1

The Le Hoyo du Gourmet is an obviously aged cigar looking cigar with a rustic parchment like wrapper that is smooth to the touch. There are quite a few veins present and the cigar is bent a bit in the middle. It has the perfect give when squeezed and the wrapper smells strongly of spices, sweet cedar, pepper and leather. The cap cuts cleanly, but the draw is extremely tight, but that is easily fixed with a draw tool.

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The first third of the Hoyo de Monterrey starts out quite bitter in the first five or so puffs, but quickly calms down allowing other flavors to present themselves. Notes of aged wood, creamy, chocolate and a nice bread flavor mix with some great white pepper on the retrohale. The draw of the Le Hoyo du Gourmet is fine after I use a draw tool, and the burn is quite nice for the duration of the first third. Strength is a non-issue at this point and does not seem to be getting any stronger.

Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Gourmet  1994 2

Coming into the second third of the Le Hoyo du Gourmet, the profile gets better with dominant notes of a lemon like citrus, leather, sweet cedar and a tiny amount of spice on the lips that comes and goes. Strength is still mild, and honestly I don’t see it getting any stronger. The draw is better and the burn continues to be wonderful. Great flavors and a nice profile, and it seems to be transitioning well.

Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Gourmet  1994 3

The final third continues the trend with pretty much the same flavors as the second third, but there was an added vanilla bean note that was really quite strong at points. Other flavors include a lighter lemon, sweet cedar and creamy leather. The spice from the first two thirds is gone, as is the pepper, and I am left with a sweet and creamy profile that continues until the end. As predicted, the strength ends at a very mild medium if that, but I was able to smoke it down to the nub without it getting hot at all.

Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Gourmet  1994 4

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Final Notes:

  • As has happened in the past, the history for that review was compiled and written by Charlie, the review however was all Brooks. That being said, some of the history bullet points are a bit more in the Brooks’ verbiage.
  • Box prices currently range from about $150.00-$225.00 for boxes of 25 of the newer boxes.
  • I am not normally a big fan of Hoyo marca, but this surprised me a bit.
  • There are numerous reports that have indicated that this cigar has been discontinued in 2002, 2009 and 2011, however after speaking to a few vendors, this hardly seems the case. In addition, there is no formal word that these have been discontinued, which isn’t to say that other Le Hoyos have been cancelled.
  • Other than the tight draw, which was pretty easily fixed, the construction on the Le Hoyo du Gourmet was wonderful. Great burn line, no wrapper issues, and a fairly large volume of smoke.
  • According to CubanCigarWebsite.com these have been offered in a few different packaging options including 5 packs, SLBs of 25 and 50 and Cajóns of 100.
  • The Le Hoyo du Gourmets came unbanded until 2005, when bands were attached for all releases after that date.
  • Although wrapper looked fairly fragile, I had no problems construction wise at all, thankfully.
  • The final smoking time was just over one hour.

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The Bottom Line: This was a great example of a nicely aged Cuban with crisp and clean flavors that really blended together well. The construction was great other than the aforementioned draw issue, and it was a joy to smoke in that regard. It is not a powerhouse by any means, in fact, it never got stronger than an extremely mild medium, but would make a wonderful morning cigar with a double espresso. I think that these still have legs and will continue to age well. Sadly, I only have one, but I will be looking for more in the future.

Final Score: 87

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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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