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

Le Hoyo du Maire

(Size: 4″ x 30 — Time: 30mins)

Here’s a quick little review of the small cigar that I kick-started yesterday’s herf with, the Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Maire.  It’s a small cigar, and seemed to fit the early morning mood quite nicely – start small, work up!

Appearance /15

The du Maire is the baby of the Le Hoyo line-up (indeed, it’s the baby of the HdM and Cuban ranges in general).  Despite it’s small size, the wrapper leaf used on this example was quite attractive.  It was fairly smooth, and had a nice sheen to it.  It definitely felt diminutive in the hand, but it was quite firm to the touch.  Overall, this example looked and felt better than one might expect of a cigar this small.  13

Smoking Characteristics /25

On lighting the du Maire it became obvious that the reason for the firm touch was that there was perhaps just a touch too much tobacco in this small stick.  The draw was slightly tight at the outset, and whilst it eased up during the middle section, it tightened up quite considerably as it finished.  A relight was required towards the end, but otherwise this cigar burned very well, keeping a nice, straight burn line from start to finish.  21

Flavour /25

This cigar initially started off with honey and nut flavours predominating.  These were present for much of the stick, with the initial honey fading to the background and allowing the nutty flavour to come to the fore, along with some fresh cedar.  Towards the finish of the smoke, however, these flavours subsided and were replaced with something a little more fruity and floral.  21

Overall Impression /35

Overall, I think that the Le Hoyo du Maire packs quite a lot into such a small, slow burning cigar.  The half-hour smoke time is more than one would anticipate by looking at this little ‘entreacto’.  There is a fairly clear development of flavours, and the flavours present are pleasant, if not overly strong (you would struggle to suggest this was anything more than the top end of mild).  In many respects, this is a perfect summer morning cigar – short enough that you can enjoy it after breakfast and before work if you plan your day well.  32

Grand total… 87/100

A Saturday of Intrigue…

Yesterday was a pretty good day all told.  I made my way into London to spend a day herfing with a friend and had quite a day smoking, eating, drinking and looking at some real gems from the cigar world.

Sautter's Humidor

The Humidor in Sautter's of Mount St (Click picture to enlarge)

Upon arriving at Paddington I decided that the weather was just fair enough for me to take a morning stroll across to Sautter’s of Mount Street in Mayfair.  I made a quick caffeine stop at the Mount Street Deli before my first cigar (the Deli: good coffee, very slow service).  I moved a couple of doors down to Sautter’s, which is situated opposite the Connaught Hotel, the home of de Gaulle throughout the Second World War.  As I entered, I spotted the familiar face of Nic Wing (Cities in Sound – Cuban Cigar Walk London) who was, if I recall correctly, trying out a Fuente Opus X of some description.  A brief trip to the humidor in search of a Hoyo de Monterrey ‘Le Hoyo’ of some description – an ideal morning range in my opinion – yielded a du Maire, a tiny little smoke, and the only Le Hoyo that is available as a single from Sautter’s well stocked but small walk-in humidor.  It was a nice, light and quick start to the day’s smoking, taking around 30 minutes to smoke – aside from a slightly tight draw, it just about hit the spot.

Just as Nic and the team at Sautter’s started showing off some of the really interesting stock that’s hidden away in the vaults under Mayfair, my herfing buddy for the day arrived.  Just in time for the show…  Two treasures spring to mind.  One was a box of old (70-90 years) Castañeda cigars which seem to have been sent so someone in lieu of gold…  Castañeda was one of the brands which eventually merged to become today’s Fonseca marque.

Two Budles in the H.Upmann Cabinet

The other treasure, and this really was something to behold, was a cabinet of H.Upmann cigars. (Thankyou to Nic for the picture, right).  Here I am referring to the original cabinet – more akin to a cupboard or sideboard than today’s slide-lid boxes…  The date of this cabinet, which originally contained 500 cigars of various vitolas, is believed to be 1897.  Not just pre-Revolution or pre-World Wars, but pre 20th Century!  The cabinet was originally sent to Devon, and there remains just over 300 cigars – one can only imagine the Victorian gentlemen lining up in the gun room to have their post-shoot cigar.  What a welcome return from a possibly miserable, wet shoot in the Devon countryside (which can definitely be an unforgiving part of the country).  An interesting bit of trivia, rumour has it, is that two of the cigar names from this cabinet are front-runners to be the names of the next two UK Regional Editions…

However, back to the cigars of today.  My second cigar at Sautter’s was a Romeo y Julieta Cedros No3.  It was a pleasant smoke as well, and just hit the spot before heading off for a light lunch at Carluccio’s.  Great cigars, great Italian food and some Peroni Gran Riserva beer certainly got the day off to a wonderful start.

After lunch it was a stroll along New and Old Bond Streets, gazing longingly into some of the wonderful shops which line those streets, towards St James.  A quick stop in Berry Brothers to pick up a bottle of chilled Sancerre was our only diversion from JJ Fox, our intended destination.  Unfortunately, we were slowly running out of time, so our planned post-dinner Churchills had to go by the wayside – and I was so looking forward to a H.Upmann Sir Winston…  I decided to finally give the new UK Regional Edition a test run, so picked up a La Flor de Cano Short Robusto.  I was certainly three-for-three on the day though, as the LFdC was a very pleasant smoke, with lots of buttery richness; the only downside was a slight lack of progression as the cigar developed.

The Day Ends at JJ Fox

As I made my way back to Paddington, I was glad that I’d made the trip across from the West Country – some good company in the form of Nic Wing and Dan Ward, some good cigars, some good food and a very nice bottle of wine.  Little did I know that my dodgy knee was going to be so painful once I’d got back home!  I hope you enjoyed the read, and don’t forget that over the coming days I’ll be posting reviews of all three cigars that I smoked, so keep checking back.

Le Hoyo du Dauphin (1998)

(Size: 6″ x 38 — Time: 1hr 5mins)

So, having decided to step into the world of aged cigars, I bought a box of 1998 Le Hoyo du Dauphins aged by Hunters and Frankau – the sole importers and distributors of Cuban cigars in the UK. The aroma was wonderful as I opened the SLB last week, and having rested for a week in the humi I thought it was about time to light one up.

Today I decided to go with an unusual drink for me, a cream soda – as it happens, it was a very good match for this cigar, which started off quite light bodied and finished closer to medium bodied. Here’s the review…

Appearance /15

The du Dauphin was a pleasant little stick to look at, though by no means perfect. Whilst the wrapper had a nice shade to it, and it had just the right amount of lustre, there were a few little scrags and a small flakey patch where the join was. It had a neat little pigtail cap which was well applied and gave it a certain je ne sais quoi (well, it is du Dauphin). 12

Smoking Characteristics /25

Pre-light the cigar’s aromas were very understated, quite difficult to detect even. What I could make out was some very feint milk chocolate aromas. As I smoked the cigar the aromas it gave off were quite pleasant. I used a match to light the du Dauphin due to it’s smaller ring gauge. It lit quite happily first time and we were on our way. The draw, throughout the entire stick, was nigh on perfect and the smoke that I was able to draw through it was a sight to behold – these two aspects were truly first class. Unfortunately, the burn was not quite so magnificent… During the first third of the cigar there were a couple of little ‘wobbles’, but any unevenness soon sorted itself out – so no troubles just yet. However, through the middle third it started to go really quite uneven and required a few adjustments with the lighter. The final third decided to stay fairly straight and true though. The only other couple of issues with this stick was a slightly fragile ash and the occassional hot burn – but then it is a smaller ring gauge, and as soon as I’d slowed down the rate of smoking everything mellowed off again. Overall, a couple of uneven burn issues aside, this was a well made cigar which smoked well. The occassions of hotter burn can be well excused – after all I’d sped up because I was enjoying it! 22

Flavour /25

On the first couple of draws I was surprised by a fair hit of pepper – still quite light in body, but a good strong flavour to get going. The pepper soon mellowed into a smokey woodiness, just the type of flavour that makes you think a good barbeque. Then some lovely roasted (barbequed?) nutty flavours started to creep in after about twenty minutes. This was quite almondy (by that I mean those lovely salted almonds you get at good bars, not that fake marzipan flavour… which is disgusting). At around the half-way the cigar heated up (I was smoking pretty hard – I do love almonds!) and got a blast of harsh pepper, I quickly slowed down and the pepperiness subsided to reveal a lovely creaminess – this worked wonderfully with the cream soda. As we edged towards the last section of the cigar the cream took on a sweeter dimension and some nice honey flavours developed. As it developed it reminded me of a wonderful remedy for man-flu – a glass of warmed rum with honey and lemon juice (it works – and even if it doesn’t it tastes great). Then, one last twist as I took the last two draws, a hint of chocolate – bringing the cigar full-circle to the pre-light aromas. Whilst there were no real twists or turns, and the flavours stayed within a similar profile, there were some nice, subtle developments. 22

Overall Impressions /35

The first thing to say about this stick is that it’s only been in my humidor for a few days, so after a little longer to settle into its new environment I’d expect a slight improvement. The construction was generally pretty good (for me the draw is vital), though it was let down a shade by some uneven burn issues around the middle third. I enjoyed its nuanced developments of flavour – it’s not a rollercoaster ride, but a sailing holiday – still good fun, you still see different places, but it’s just a little more refined and calm. Overall a good cigar with a little room for improvement, but not much. 32

Grand total… 88/100

Leading the Way

Just a brief post this one. I’ve just been elected into the newly formed position of ‘Cigar and Spirits Officer’ for my real ale society. I shall now be spreading the word of the leaf to an even bigger audience!

Perhaps of more interest to those of you who enjoy pictures of cigars is my latest delivery from Mitchell’s team at CGars Ltd…

Above is the wonderfully delicious smelling Le Hoyo du Dauphin (1998) Hunters and Frankau aged cab of 25. They are some gorgeous cigars which I cannot wait to smoke – and when I do you can be assured of a review!

On the left is the three pack of Romeo y Julieta Romeo No2 Tubos that I bought at the same time (complete with what was essentially a free pack of RyJ minis).

Later on this evening I’ll be posting a new cigar review – the wonderful Diplomaticos No2 will be examined.