Hoyo de Monterrey Short Hoyo Pirámide (2011 LE)

(Size: 5 3/8″ x 46  —  Time: 1hr 30mins)

Well, it has certainly been a while!  My last cigar review was just before Christmas, and as I write this one summer is finally getting into the swing of things here in the UK!  About time too!

I spent an excellent afternoon whilst smoking this lovely looking 2011 Limited Edition enjoying the company of a fellow former Royal Navy officer.  (The wonders that a tie can do to spark up a conversation!)  In the morning I’d been at the Savoy having a look at their facilities and logistics ahead of a charity gala I am organising at the hotel next year.  Given how well the meeting went, I thought I would have something a little special during my usual trip to one of London’s many fine tobacconists.  This one caught my eye.  The Hoyo de Monterrey Short Hoyo Pirámide, made from tobacco that had been aged for at least two years before rolling.  Here are my thoughts…


Appearance /15

This cigar had a lovely dark chocolate wrapper, with slightly dark patches where the oils of the aged tobacco had stained.  It was a little veiny, with a couple of knobbly bits, but the seam and cap were well finished.  It was firm to the touch, with a nicely packed foot.  Overall, the cigar had a slightly rustic look to it – from the dark textured wrapper, to the slightly tapered foot.  13

IMG_0012Smoking Characteristics /25

The pre-light aroma of the Short Hoyo Pirámide was farmyard with hints of light chocolate.  The pre-light draw was almost perfect – firm, but with just the right amount of give.  The light was easy and quick – two matches and it was set nicely.  Throughout the length of the cigar the burn remained crisp – it was occasionally a little wavy, but always remained fairly level.  The ash was a relatively light grey, with little mottling; it was fairly solid, coming off in distinct lumps, but not the most solid.  Smoke production was generally good, though occasionally a little thinner than one would ideally want.  There was little to fault this cigar for on the construction front – a touch more smoke and a slightly stronger ash would be my primary requests.  23

IMG_0013Flavour /25

The dry draw was right in line with the farmyard pre-light aroma: sweet hay being predominant.  There were under-notes of honey (giving the sweetness) and even a touch of menthol.  The first draw upon lighting was strong – very bitter chocolate.  This quickly tempered and by the third draw was balanced with a touch of liquorice.  After a short while, the bitterness dropped off and (whilst still present) given way to a more rounded dark chocolate/cocoa.  At this stage, it was vaguely reminiscent of a high quality dark chocolate with chilli – some liquorice still propped up the flavours from the background, now with menthol notes joining in too.  As the cigar progressed further, towards the final third, the bitter cocoa notes died away completely, along with the liquorice and menthol, giving way to a lovely milky profile, with a pleasant nuttiness.  This is how it remained, perhaps being joined by a toasted woodiness at the nub.  22

Overall Impression /35

I would say that the HdM Hoyo Short Pirámide is a good cigar.  It starts strongly and shows some interesting progression – though I would have liked to have seen another flavour phase and a touch more complexity from an Limited Edition.  The cigar looks good, with a ‘quality rusticity’ which is pleasing to behold.  Construction is good too, with only a few very minor quibbles.  Would I buy more of these?  Without a doubt if the occasion was right.  Would I buy a box?  I’m not so sure.  Either way, if you haven’t tried one I’d heartily recommend it – especially if you’re looking for something medium bodied with a little bite.  33

Grand total… 91/100

Montecristo No.2

(Size: 6 1/8″ x 52  —  Time: 1hr 40mins)


Sometime ago, I believe Thatcher and Reagan were both in power at the time, one of the true BOTL in this world was kind enough to gift me a Montecristo No.2.  It transpired on the UK Cigar Forums that I had not smoked this legendary cigar, and Simon ‘Bolivar’ decided to right a wrong. So, this review is for Simon, who was interested in my thoughts.

So, I’ve finally got around to smoking it, and I have to admit that it began a bit of a cigar binge for me.  Having gone months without a Cuban (or indeed a non-Cuban), I hurled myself headlong into a weekend of hedonism and herfing.  The Scotch flowed without hinderance, and the cigars followed one another.  Tony Bennett playing in the background as I enjoyed a couple of wonderful evenings of reclusion and relaxation.  This is the one which kick-started my 2013 smoking year…

IMG_0964Appearance /15

This cigar had a chocolatey, fairly dark, oily wrapper. The oiliness was not towards the top end, however, and left the surface with a satin-like feel.  There was a noticeable seam along the cigar, and a couple of fairly solid veins.  It was firm to the touch – almost hard, but not solid (this was likely of my own doing, as my humidity has dropped a bit low due to the long winter and central heating).  The foot was nicely packed, with reasonable give, all things considered.  13

Smoking Characteristics /25

The pre-light aroma of the Monte No.2 was slightly chocolatey, with a slightly strawy note – not at all unpleasant.  The cigar lit with a small degree of difficulty – taking longer than I’d anticipated, and taking a while to get onto the straight and narrow.  Unfortunately, this was a sign of things to come…  The early burn was weak and uneven, not instilling any confidence.  After a few touch-ups during the first ten minutes the cigar settled down and burnt more evenly.  However, around the 40 minute mark the cigar went out, and again around the 80 minute mark, shortly after I’d had to remove part of the wrapper.  The ash was a little flakey, but held quite well.  The pre-light draw was excellent, offering and ideal amount of resistance – this was true throughout, and inspite of burn issues, the cigar produced an adequate amount of smoke.  18

Flavour /25

The dry draw provided a herbal flavour, with very subtly menthol notes.  After lighting, the early draws were woody, with lots of cherry notes and hints of chocolate.  Soon after lighting the woodiness became more defined – with vaguely peppery cedar becoming quite noticeable.  The slightly tart, fruity, notes of the cherry remained, but moved towards the background, along with hints of vanilla, cocoa and coffee.  Gradually the flavours changed towards more grassy notes – with the slightly metallic feel that you often get with Montecristo cigars.  The grassiness was soon accompanied by more woody flavours – predominantly an oak note, which was akin to oak chips which had been soaked in a sweet cider vinegar.  As the cigar entered the final third, it became deeper, with a leathery woodiness.  There developed some more notes which were reminiscent of the tannic notes from a slightly under-aged Claret.  The strength ramped up in the final five minutes, though there were never any tarry notes.  23

IMG_0965Overall Impression /35

The Montecristo No.2 turned out to be a pleasant surprised for me.  I’ve never been a huge fan of the Monte marque, with only the Petit Edmundo and Sublimes (LE) really doing anything for me.  This was an enjoyable smoke, with good progression through the stick – however, the complexity of the cigar seemed to come and go in spurts, and the depth really only developed in the final third.  When I consider my overall impression, I have to recognise that it was an incredibly annoying cigar at times, with regular touch-ups and relighting being required – I also note that its draw was excellent, and I have to account for the reduced humidity that the cigar has been stored at over recent months.  As such, I’m going with my gut, and calling this a good one.  Thanks again, Simon, you’ve introduced me to a classic, and I’ll definitely be having more.  33

Grand total… 87/100 (with an expectation to be a couple of percentage points higher)

Bucanero Red Torpedo (NC)

(Size: 6″ x 52 — Time: 1hr 10mins)

On a trip to visit the parents I packed just one cigar, the Bucanero Red Torpedo – I’d planned to spend time in the garden doing some ‘yard work’ and just wanted a decent, value cigar. Having checked out the prices of this particular cigar, it certainly fitted the value tag, costing less than the excise duty alone would be in the UK…

So, is this a good value cigar, or is it just a cheap dog-rocket?

Appearance /15

The shade of this cigar’s wrapper is very nice – at the darker end of the Colorado range, like many quality Cubans. Unfortunately there are plenty of imperfections on the wrapper, highlighted by some fairly pronounced veins, some dodgy joins along the wrapper and a very scrappy foot end of the cigar. The ‘squeeze test’ also offers a mixed bag – generally a very nice firmness (with a little spring), but there were a couple of slightly soft spots. 11

Smoking Characteristics /25

This stogie is a short-filler – not something I’d usually seek out myself (though who can complain at around $3 a pop!). Given this, I was expecting some distinctly dodgy construction, burn and various other characteristics; however, I was pleasantly surprised. This wasn’t a fantastic example of how a cigar should smoke, but it wasn’t bad. The draw very good throughout (maybe a little loose for my liking, but still pretty nice). The cigar lit quite nicely on the first attempt and, despite a slight wobble straight away, the burn was quite even early on. The burn line had a couple of little wobbles, though nothing drastic – generally keeping reasonably straight. One slight instance of coning around half-way was fairly innocuous, though a case of ‘reverse canoeing’ towards the death was the only glaring issue which came to the fore. The ash was not great: quite inconsistent colour, a few splits/gaps and a flakey nature characterised this. That said, it was reasonably solid for a short-filler cigar (still couldn’t get it longer than an inch) and it clung on for dear life at the end! Overall, average construction which is pretty tidy for a cigar of this type. Pre-light aromas were nice and strong, displaying quite earthy qualities. Once lit, the smoke was pleasant: for the majority of the cigar it was reminiscent of a woodland floor in spring, then through the final third it developed towards fresh, running water. 21

Flavours /25

Straight out of the starting blocks you get some tasty vegetal flavours. Very soon you also start getting nice woody notes at the back of the mouth on the end of the draw, providing a nice depth to each draw. Just after a third of the cigar though, the woodiness faded away and the vegetal flavours at the forefront developed towards a slightly perfumed tea, such as an Earl Grey. This slight highlight lasted for a short while, before passing the baton back to the straight vegetal profile. This was again the predominant feature of the cigar until the burn reached the band – a brief hint of swimming pool/chlorine for a couple of draws (which, whilst not great, was not as bad as it sounds), soon made way for a sweeter, honeyish attributes. One final twist, at the nub, was a slight ‘green’ leather blast at the death (perhaps evocative of aniseed). The overall profile of this Torpedo was vegetal, with notes of wood, tea, honey and aniseed playing cameo parts. These appearances can hardly be used to suggest that it was a cigar with much development, but it did provide a few interesting moments – enough to keep me from actually doing any work in the garden… 20

Overall Impression /35

A Nicaraguan cigar of medium body and medium flavour, this was a surprisingly well made short-filler cigar (the construction certainly belying the appearance…) The flavours were fairly consistent, though a couple of little twists did add some interest. It was good enough that I became interested in it as I smoked it, and it is certainly an excellent value stogie (not a dog-rocket at all); but… it’s not exciting, nor has it got the remarkable smoothness of most Davidoffs and Cohibas. So, it’s really a so-so cigar, doing little wrong, but not much overly well either. 30

Grand total… 82/100

Thanks G-man for gifting me this cigar sometime last year!

Now, I’m going to concentrate on the rest of the Blue Jays match now – celebrating a huge homer by Buck with one of my Major League Robustos