Hoyo de Monterrey, one of Habanos’ many brands, opened shop in Havana in the middle of the 19th century. The name means “valley of Monterrey,” and refers to the fertile Vuelta Abajo land where their tobacco is farmed. A century after inception, the Cuban government expropriated the company from its legitimate owners, and to this day Habanos markets Hoyo de Monterrey globally. The brand is known for its light flavours and wide range of sizes, the largest being the most popular. The Palmas Extra, a corona, is one of the smaller cigars they produce. With a price in Canada of $12, this cigar sits in the lower half of Cuban cigars in terms of price, and sits similarly in Hoyo de Monterrey’s hand-made cigar offerings.
Build: Handmade with all Cuban wrapper, filler, and binder
Format: Corona (Cremas)
Size: 140 x 15.88 mm (5 1/2″ x 40)
Price: $12 CDN
Being a reasonably-priced cigar from an established and reputable company, I was surprised at the lack of online reviews for this cigar. The general consensus in those reviews I found is that the cigar is mild to medium bodied with great volumes of smoke. Several people have reported burn and draw problems, with aging partially correcting the problem. The recommended aging is at least 3 years, although some say that 5 or 10 is better.
I purchased a 5-er of these from a local cigar enthusiast, and they’ve been in my humidor for about 3 weeks now. After a stressful day at work, a nice Cuban and a black coffee was exactly what I needed, so I proceeded to delve into my humidor. The cigar I pulled felt slightly inconsistent, with alternating lumpy and spongey sections, which I hoped wouldn’t translate into burn or draw issues. After dropping the cigar on the carpet (oops! – see the specks on the cigar’s foot in the picture…), I used my scissors to trim off some of the cap and was content with the smooth, easy draw.
Things began to turn sour when the cigar refused to light properly. After a light toasting, the cigar never quite got going – I would go so far as saying it never really burned, but just smoldered. This is a tell-tale sign of over-humidification, yet my humidor is sitting stable at 69%. Perhaps it is due to the very muggy weather, and the fact that I smoked the cigar right on the beach. Regardless, the cigar continued to burn poorly, going out on several occasions despite my best efforts. I did notice that the burn (and draw) worsened considerably at the lumpy parts of the cigar, and became much better in between. At these times the cigar was quite flavourful, and produced billows of smoke. As I reached the half way point, things seemed to improve, with the burn and draw both becoming more consistent. The flavour turned from mild to medium – very woody and sweet with spice and nuts coming through. Ignoring the burn and draw issues, this would have been a great pairing for my coffee. However, I was left with a sense of disappointment, and a longing for what the other 4 in my humidor might hold in store. For that, I’m afraid, I’ll have to wait a while.