As I drove to the office yesterday, I thought about two things....
First, it’s great to be a sports fan in the Philadelphia area. Penn State is 8-0 and a hopeful for the national championship - curse the corrupt BCS system. The Phillies play in game one of the World Series this week in a very winnable series against the Rays (otherwise known to Mike Ditka as the Tampa Ray Bays). And Tony Romo is injured, while the NFC East is managing to keep my Eagles in the hunt. What more could a Philly fanatic ask for? Oh yeah....hockey season started, did you know folks still play hockey?
Second, I received another request to review a cigar. Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur in the 5” x 50 Epicure size. An old, long-toothed giant in the cigar industry that still maintains an insanely loyal customer base despite the bountiful array of new releases that hit our shelves weekly. In fact, this very vitola received a ‘92’ rating in April of 2007 and a celebrated position among the ‘Top 25 Cigars’ of the year.
Knowing Excalibur is a pillar in quality, I selected four cigars from four different boxes – one cigar from each box. Each cigar looks exactly the same. The true Connecticut shade wrapper is shiny and smooth with no large veins or blemishes. The pre-light aroma is sweet and doughy, reminding me of the inside of a curing barn. The roll is solid from head to toe and, once lit, the draw is perfect.
Note: I am on my third of four samples.
The cigar smacks of wood and toast. The aftertaste is almost refreshing....crisp and clean, like drinking a Corona on a hot summer day. There’s some sweet nutty undertones that linger a tad after each puff. I’ve read reviews that note leather, coffee, and earth....yeah, I get none of that. According to my palate, Hoyo Excalibur offers a rich, but not overwhelming, core of oak and toast. Roll it around in your palate for a little while before releasing the smoke, you’ll see what I mean. And this core is velvety, almost as if it leaves a film on the bottom of your palate. Through the nose, nothing but pepper. Black pepper. I’ve also read reviews that consider this to be a medium to full-bodied cigar. I find it to be medium at best. But a pleasant, easy-going medium.
Hoyo Excalibur can easily fool the unsuspecting enthusiast. While both flavor and strength remain consistent from start to finish, the blend is quite complex. Long-fillers from Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican are used. However, the use of two aged Connecticut shade leaves – one as binder, one as wrapper – likely mellows this mixture to create a smooth and balanced bouquet.
How would I rate this cigar? It’s damn near perfect when construction, consistency, and aesthetics are considered. However, I lean towards cigars that evolve as they burn, so the Excalibur loses a couple of points in my (often overly critical and usually high maintenence) book. Either way, it’s a winner that should not be overlooked.