At this point it's pretty unanimous. I don't think I've ever smoked a bad Hoyo de Monterrey cigar. The first one I tried was—quite predictably—the Epicure No. 2, at Mark's Club in Mayfair, no less. I had always heard that this was a great first cigar to try, whether it's one to introduce you to the brand, or cigar smoking on the whole. With its Robustos vitola, it's an ideal smoke time where you can enjoy the flavour and complexity without going full-on or full-strength. It starts off incredibly mellow and pleasant whilst retaining delicious undertones before developing into a slightly peppery and cedar profile. Since that first time at Mark's, I've of course had it several times since, each time a pleasant experience. With Cuban cigars proving to be more and more inconsistent as of late, the Epicure No. 2 has always been my go-to for a reliable cigar.
It's worth stating at this point that the reason I enjoy Hoyo cigars so much is that they are all more or less light to medium. I don't like overpowering or excessively long smokes, and given my schedule as a menswear photographer, I don't often have a great deal of time to indulge in this vice. That being said, when I do have moments, it's usually via meals—be it lunch or dinner–so to have a cigar that can compliment the food and drinks pairings is always a plus.
A brilliant cigar that I've found has gone under the radar somewhat is the Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo de San Juan. It's one of the most contemporary from the brand, and is part of a series which consists of Le Hoyo du Depute and Le Hoyo du Maire. The San Juan features a Geniales vitola, measuring slightly larger than the Epicure No. 2 at 150mm by 54 ring guage. Nevertheless, it's an incredibly light smoke and is filled with only the finest tobacco leaves from San Juan y Martínez in Cuba.
Going back to the Epicure quickly, I'd be remiss not to shoutout the Epicure No. 1 and the Epicure Especial. These cigars are slight iterations to the classic, with the No. 1 featuring a Coronas Gordas vitola (143mm x 46), whilst the Especial is exactly that, a special smoke in a bigger Gordito format (141mm x 50). No matter which one you go for, you're in for a treat.
And speaking of treats. On the occasion you do have a long and wonderful evening ahead of you (ideally in warm weather with beautiful vistas) don't look any further than the Double Coronas, or the Double Coronas Gran Reserva Cosecha 2013. These cigars require a minimum of two hours to get through, but believe me when I say they're ones to remember. These are cigars that are leisure to the max. I recall being pleasantly surprised at the light strength, and incredible flavours throughout. The cigar always draws incredibly well, and rarely needs to be re-lit, which is all the more surprising given the length and size. It looks like an absolute beast of a cigar, but the mellow profile means you can enjoy the whole stick without feeling smoked out.
The original Double Coronas measures 194mm by a 49 ring gauge—the vitola aptly named Prominentes—and has notes of chocolate and caramel. The Gran Reserva Cosecha, in the Double Coronas vitola, features leaves which were part of the 2013 harvest and have been aged for at least five years before being rolled. There's more depth and complexity therefore, and these cigars are extremely limited with only 5,000 cases of fifteen sticks being produced.
When you're after something truly special, it's always a wise move to opt for La Casa del Habano editions. The Hoyo de Monterrey Elegantes LCDH is made using the Tacos vitola, and measures 158mm by 47 ring gauge. It's an incredibly unique vitola as you can see, and has only been used once before in the Presidentes by Partagás. Delicate, aromatic and light-bodied, these cigars aren't easy to come by, so don't miss the opportunity if you find them!