By Russ Ouellette
When the Hoyo de Tradicion first arrived in our store a couple of years ago, or thereabouts, I had to do a double-take because the band, which is much different than the one we’re familiar with, looks a lot like the Cuban version. That intrigued me enough to try it, and I remember being happily surprised, but for some reason I didn’t revisit the cigar for quite some time.
When I was asked to review the Epicure, I recalled that I enjoyed the cigar and was eager to give it another try. The 5.75 x 45 box-pressed vitola has a nice rusty-colored Honduran Rosado wrapper with a nice sheen and fine veins. The pre-light aroma is the fairly typical barnyard scent, but there’s a slightly sweet spiciness in the aroma, and it shows up again in the pre-light draw, along with toast and a hint of dark chocolate.
This series has some unique aspects, such as the reddish-hued wrapper, the use of Connecticut-grown Habano for a binder and the addition of Nicaraguan filler from the volcanic island, Ometepe. I like products that take a fresh approach, because there’s almost always going to be a surprise, and this cigar is no exception.
On initial light, the sweet spice and chocolate from the pre-light draw asserts itself as a nutmeg/cinnamon and cocoa burst. That began to transition after a handful of puffs into an oaky flavor with a bit of caramel, and this pleasantly sweet and woody character maintained itself for most of the first half of the smoke.
The burn is more than acceptable for its price range (around $5 to7) with no touchups required. When it started to run slightly, all I had to do is rotate the cigar a bit, and it evened itself out in just a few puffs. Considering that these are box-pressed, I’m pleasantly surprised at the consistently good construction.
The aroma is pleasant, like an aromatic wood fire with a bit of spice, and the Epicure produces nice volumes of blue-white smoke. As it moves into the second half, the flavors morph quite a bit. The spice steps up, and notes of leather move in, especially on the lips. The depth develops as a distinct coffee flavor shows up, and then, as I’ve noted in other cigars with Ometepe tobacco, a touch of dry black cherry works its way into the core.
In the last third, an occasional little burst of spice jumps out along with a sweet earthiness, and the cigar settles into a groove with a nicely integrated mélange of flavors, and a marked lack of bitterness.
Frankly, I guess that part of the reason that I didn’t go back to this particular well is a subconscious predisposition to look upon cigars from the large manufacturers as boring and repetitive, but in this particular case, that is absolutely not true. This is one smoke that will find its way into my regular rotation for those times when I want complexity, not power.
For appearance, with the silky Rosado wrapper, this one gets 13 out of 15, for construction and burn, I give it 31 out of 35, and for flavor and aroma, I’ll call it 43 out of 50 for an aggregate of 87, and I have no problem recommending it to anyone looking for a solid medium-bodied cigar with a complex and interesting flavor profile.
Overall rating: 87
5.2 x 50
Wrapper: Jamastran (Honduras)
Binder: Connecticut Habano
Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua
Made in: Honduras
|Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of pipe tobaccos for Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe and www.pipesandcigars.com in Albany, NY. He has been a cigar smoker and pipe tobacco blender for over 30 years. Russ will be contributing articles in several areas starting with reviewing cigars that are the best bang for the buck – something we anticipate many readers will be interested in during these challenging economic times.|