Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cigar Review: Hoyo de Monterrey Palmas Extra

If there is one brand that shows fluctuations in flavors throughout the entire portfolio, it is Hoyo de Monterrey. You may get one that is relatively mild and smooth and you might get one that is fairly strong and robust. I personally love the differences throughout because it is always a surprise to see how a vitola will smoke and it also leads me to having a lot of favorites throughout the brand. I think the Petit Robusto is a terrific short smoke that has some punch to it and then you have the Epicure No. 2 which is much softer and filled with complex but subtle flavors. Today though I look at an interesting vitola that is pre-Revolution in origin, but in the past twelve years it has finally become a handmade Habano. The Habano I am talking about is the Palmas Extra and let's see where it lies in terms of body, strength and flavor profile.

As mentioned earlier, the Palmas Extra is a vitola that has been on the market for many years now. Until 2002 it was machine made, why it was decided that it would be hand made is beyond me, but Habanos  decided to change things up a bit. The Habano is classified as a Cremas in the factories, but it is technically a corona. The Habano is being made at La Corona Factory in Habana, Cuba and measures 140mm (5.5") with a 40 ring gauge. All tobacco hails from Vuelta Abajo and even though this was once machine made, it is now made by hand with long filler tobacco and features a triple cap. The Habano has a nice press to it and a dark Colorado wrapper that really shows dark red clay coloring. There are some veins throughout the smoke and it is not the prettiest of presentations, but tightly rolled. The aroma at the foot is that of leather, wood and tobacco, and I am getting some spices and wood notes on the wrapper. 

Lighting up the Habano it begins by showing some smooth tobacco and wood notes, and it has this salty characteristic as well. The wood notes are that of oak and are stronger rather than softer as sometimes present in Hoyo smokes. I am getting some spice and pepper notes as well and this is a robusto Hoyo rather than a softer Hoyo. With a darker flavor profile, the construction is not that great and I am having to relight the Habano quite a bit which is very frustrating. The burn line is very uneven and the ash has this very dark charcoal coloring. The draw is slightly tight, more so than usual, and it is making the Habano very difficult to enjoy. The body is at a solid medium to medium full level and I find the strength is at a medium full level as well. Whenever I smoke a Habano and it smokes like this, it is either set up for success or failure, and I believe we are going down the road of failure right now.  

I am in the second half of the Habano now and the reason I am breaking it down by halves is because it is not overly complex and it is showing more of a change at the halfway point rather than at the end of the first third. The flavors of strong wood, tobacco and pepper continue to dominate the cigar, and it has this salty finish to it which really pairs well with the pepper and oak notes. I am picking up a touch of spice in this half, but just a little, and it is enough to add some character overall. The construction continues to be a problem in this half and it has that uneven burn line with dark charcoal ash on the end. I have had to relight the smoke several times and the draw has been a problem once again. The strength and body are smoking at a medium full level in this half, slightly stronger than before, and the finish is a little warm with those core flavors that have been present from the beginning.

The Palmas Extra is a vitola that falls into the bolder category when reviewing the Hoyo de Monterrey brand, and from the vitolas I have had that are bolder, it is not my favorite. I felt the Habano showed poor construction throughout and lacked in terms of flavors and complexity. It is an affordable smoke, there is no doubt about it, but even for the price I would grab a couple other options that are available. I do not think age will do much for the smoke, and with these having some age on them, I imagine they were rough when young. I do believe Habanos can produce an Hoyo that is stronger and bolder, but when they do so, they need to do so wisely. I felt the Petit Robusto would show positive qualities with age, but it would need many years to reach that point. Does the Palmas Extra show those positive qualities? No, it does not and I do not believe it will. I am giving this smoke a rating of 84-86.

Young Rating: Inconclusive
With Age Rating: 84-86