Hoyo De Monterrey Double Corona: Mind-Changing Flavor
by Ken Gargett
Honestly – if anyone had suggested a few months ago that I’d be featuring the Hoyo DCs (to give the Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona its colloquial moniker) as a pointy-end star cigar on Quill & Pad, I’d have thought them “box of frogs in party hats” crazy.
I had never, despite some serious searching, had a Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona that excited me, that lit the fire. Plenty that managed to reach “okay” status, but nothing that went further to aspire or inspire greater things. Scores for me, for many years, rattled around the mid to high 80s. Okay, but nothing to write home (or here) about.
It wasn’t for want of trying. I even picked up a full box (25) earlier this century (code was PEC ABR 01), on some rather dodgy advice du jour. Not a single one excited. They were all a bit blah.
Other opinions, though, were mixed. Some agreed, while others love them. One suspects that there was significant box variation, which never helps.
I checked the scores from one prominent cigar magazine that has been reviewing these for many years. Most recently a respectable 91, but there were a couple of 85s back in 2002 and a 99 in 1992.
All over the place – sure, reviewers’ preferences and opinions will play a significant role, but it is much more likely that this cigar varied to the extent that buying it was a lottery. I gave up.
I smoked my last one from the box two years ago (I could give it no more than an embarrassing 83, for those who look to scores) and I was not looking to revisit them.
And, yet, on a leading cigar forum there were plenty who were raving. When respected palates start nominating it as their favorite DC then it became obvious that it was, perhaps, time to reevaluate. It even made “Best of the Year” lists for several consecutive years on this site.
Despite all this, it was still a case of once bitten twice shy for me. For some, mild; for me, muted. For some, refined; for me, bland. Others, complex; me, one-dimensional. For some, distinguished and delicious; for me, disappointing and dull.
I should mention that there is a Honduran version, but I’m reviewing the Cuban effort here.
What is the Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona?
For those interested in the technicalities, these cigars are 7 5/8″ long (194 mm) with a 49 mm ring gauge.
Double Coronas are not the massively popular cigars that they once were, and options have diminished. These, the Punch DCs, Partagás Lusitanias (my favorite regular-release DC), and the Ramon Allones Gigantes (already discontinued once before, but back with us) are pretty much it for regular-production DCs.
The fabulous Romeo y Julieta Sir Winston is a smidge smaller and known, unsurprisingly, as a Churchill, though even it seems to make an appearance only every couple of years.
The near-mythical Saint Luis Rey Double Coronas (SLR DCs), which were almost ignored when first released just after the turn of the century but are now on virtually every cigar lover’s bucket list, have not been seen for several years.
This is a size I love. I know plenty who will enjoy a daily cigar but I am much less “regular” than that and often go long periods without one.
So, for me, a good cigar is an experience. I want it to be special and to last – I’m not fond of the smaller sized cigars so in vogue these days. Of course, the flip side is that if a larger cigar is not smoking well, then the disappointment is magnified.
The team in Havana obviously has no reservations about this cigar, making the Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona Gran Reserva 2013 the sixth release in the fabled Gran Reserva series early in 2019.
It followed the Cohiba Siglo VI (2009 being the year it was released), Montecristo No. 2 (2011), Partagás Lusitania (2013), Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill (2015), and H. Upmann Sir Winston (2017).
These cigars have five years of aging, so the Hoyo DC GR is from 2013 (timing is nothing if not flexible when one thinks of anything Cuban). There were 5,000 boxes for 15 sticks each. You’ll be extremely lucky to find a box these days, but when they were released, in Switzerland for example, they were available for CHF 1,590 per box. Who knows what they would be worth today?
A friend was determined to enlighten me. Like everyone, I like to think of myself as openminded, so I thought, “why not?” (and, after all, he was providing the cigar, so what did I have to lose).
The most obvious difference between the one he provided and the ones I’d seen before was the appearance. Chalk and cheese. Mine, from 2001, had all been pale, almost dilute, in wrapper color. This was so much deeper and darker. Hard to imagine they were the same cigar.
Immediately the richness of flavor flooded from the cigar, but it never ventured into blockbuster territory – rather, it was all finesse and subtlety. Mild, yet magnificent.
This was so much more flavorful than any of the old boxes, indeed any Hoyo DC I’d ever seen before. Chocolate and caramel, glacé oranges, chocolate, and cherries – the cherry notes really came to dominate in the most delightful way.
The construction was excellent, and there were some attractive creamy coffee touches as well. Great length, nicely balanced. For me 98, and a cigar that has years ahead. I should mention that I do not have a code for this cigar, but I understand it was quite young. Prices for this cigar run about $425 for a box of 25.
Talk about changing one’s mind. I could not have dreamed that a Hoyo DC could ever deliver what this one offered. A good lesson in not closing one’s mind after disappointment.
Bravo, Hoyo and Habanos.