--> Cigar Coop: Cigar Review: Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Dark Knight

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cigar Review: Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Dark Knight

Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Dark Knight
In the past few years, there have been an incredible amount of new cigar brands that have hit the marketplace.  This influx of new cigar brands has really moved many old favorites off many cigar enthusiasts' radar screens.  The Hoyo de Monterrey's Excalibur Dark Knight is one cigar that falls into this category.  The Excalibur Dark Knight is a cigar that underwent a marketing change a couple of years ago, but is the same blend that has been around for eight years. I recently had a chance to revisit this cigar, and once again, I've been impressed with this cigar.  It delivered what I consider to be a classic maduro that does not overpower you with too much cigar.

A brief background.  Hoyo de Monterrey was founded in Cuba by Don Jose Gener in 1865.  In 1931 the Gener family sold Hoyo de Monterrey and eventually it came under the control of Fernando Palicio.  When the Cuban government nationalized the cigar industry, Palicio left Cuba and eventually made his way to Florida - taking the Hoyo de Monterrey name with him (although it would still remain in Cuba).   Eventually General Cigar would acquire the brand name from Palicio.

Excalibur cigars was a new line introduced under the American-based Hoyo de Monterrey brand in the 1970s.  It was positioned as being a smoother blending of for the Hoyo de Monterrey line.  In 2004, Excalibur introduced the Excalibur 1066 line.  Included in the 1066 line were a Cameroon wrapper blend (Excalibur 1066 Cameroon) and a maduro wrapper blend (Excalbur 1066 Dark Knight).   In 2010, General Cigars made a marketing change and decided to separate the Cameroon and Dark Knight blends out of the 1066 line.  Thus, we come to the point where we now have the Excalibur Dark Knight.

Let's now break down the Excalibur Dark Knight and see what this cigar brings to the table.

Blend Profile

The blend utilizes Connecticut Broadleaf for both the wrapper and binder.

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Dominican

Vitolas Available

The Excalibur Dark Knight is available in four vitolas.  The cigar is made at the Honduras American Tabaco S.A. in Cofradia, Honduras.

Dark Knight I: 5.75 x 54
Dark Knight II: 6.5 x 52
Dark Knight III: 4.5 x 50
Dark Knight IV (Tubo): 5 x 52

Appearance

For this cigar assessment, I selected the Dark Knight III - which is essentially a short robusto/rothschild vitola. The highlight of the Excalibur Dark Knight is its dark maduro wrapper. The Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper is a rich roasted coffee bean color.  It does contain some dark (blackish) spots on it.   The wrapper is also oily in complexion, but it does have a rough feel when touched.

The band is highlighted by the text "Hoyo de Monterrey" in pale yellow font on a black shield.  The shield is adorned with gold trim.  Flanking the shield is the text "GENER" and "JOSE" to the left and right respectively in gold font on a black background.  This serves as a tribute to the brand's founder.  Under the shield is the text "Excalibur" in pale yellow font on a black background.  Just under "Excalibur" is the text "Dark Knight" -in smaller pale yellow font on black background.  The remainder of the band is adorned with gold and pale yellow.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my Excalibur Dark Knight III, I opted to place my usual straight cut into the cap and then commenced with the pre-light draw.  The pre-light draw yielded mostly notes of leather, but there were some sweet notes in the background.   At this point, I was not able to come up with an analogy to what type of sweetness this was.   While it wasn't the most exciting pre-light draw, it still wasn't a bad one (the pre-light experience is not a part of the assessment rating or score).   At this point, it was time to fire up my Excalibur Dark Knight III and see what it would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

The first third to this smoke was very interesting - a lot of flavor twists and turns to start.   While it settles into a less complex profile for the last two thirds, I loved the way how this cigar's flavors developed at the start.

The start of the Excalibur Dark Knight treated me to some notes of cedar spice and leather.  Shortly afterwards, some sweetness emerged as a secondary note.  This time I was able to make out the sweetness and it had a cherry quality to it.  The cedar quickly faded into the background while the leather quickly morphed to more of a combination of bittersweet chocolate and coffee.  The interesting thing about the bittersweet chocolate and coffee was that these were layered notes - meaning I can pick them out individually (as opposed to being "fused" like "mocha")   Around the five percent mark, cream notes surfaced as secondary notes.  At the five percent mark the flavor profile was bittersweet chocolate/coffee as the primary notes, with cream, cherry sweetness, and cedar as the secondary ones.

By the ten percent mark, the cream notes have dissipated and the cedar notes have become more of a classic baker's spice.  The flavor profile still holds with the chocolate/coffee notes as primary and the other notes as secondary.

Around the 15 percent mark (midway through the first third), the cherry sweetness moved to the forefront with the chocolate and coffee notes.  The baker's spice remains in the background throughout the remainder of the first third.

By the time the Excalibur reached the second third, the chocolate/coffee combination moved into the background while the cherry sweetness and baker's spice remained as primary notes.  This flavor profile held for the remainder of the smoking experience.   The finish to the cigar was a little harsh, however the resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature - the way all cigars should nub.

Burn and Draw

For the most part the burn of the Excalibur Dark Knight was good.    It didn't stay as sharp as I would have preferred and did require more touch-ups than I would have liked.  Still there were no problems with any canoeing on this cigar.   It burned at an ideal rate and ideal temperature.   The cigar also produced a nice tight white ash.  No issues with the draw - the Excalibur Dark Knight was enjoyable to puff on from start to finish.

Burn of the Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Dark Knight

Strength and Body

Up front I mentioned that Excalibur was positioned as a "smoother" blend for Hoyo de Monterrey.  The strength and body of this cigar reflect this.  This is not going to be an overpowering maduro smoke.  I assessed this to be a classic medium strength cigar.  As for the body, while the flavors are more subtle than bold - and it works very well with this particular blend.  I assessed the Excalibur Dark Knight to be medium in body.   There is a nice balance between the strength and body of this cigar.  In the end, this cigar lives up to the Excalibur line's positioning.


Final Thoughts

As I said up-front, the Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Dark Knight was a cigar that I hadn't smoked in a while.  With all of the new blends that have been coming out, it's nice to know that this cigar still stands up on its own.   This provides a nice well-balanced maduro smoke without overpowering you.  This is a very good maduro for the novice cigar enthusiast.   Experienced cigar enthusiasts looking for a less powerful maduro will appreciate this cigar.   As for myself, this will be a cigar that I won't wait so long to smoke again.

Summary

Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium
Body: Medium
Finish: Good
Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 89

Source: The cigars for this assessment were provided by General Cigar Company.  These samples were initiated by General Cigar Company in order to provide feedback.   I am appreciative for the sample, but in no way does this influence this review.

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