The Excalibur Epicure Natural, made by Hoyo de Monterrey in Honduras, contains tobacco from only the top ten percent of the premium long leaf tobacco leaves grown in Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, and is topped off with a beautiful light brown Connecticut shade wrapper overtop a Connecticut Broadleaf binder. The term “natural” means that the wrapper is lighter in color and has undergone minimal fermentation. Clip the end and you’ll note a sharp contrast with the dark blend of long-filler tobaccos. The roll is solid from head to toe and, once lit, the draw is perfect. Not surprisingly, the initial flavors are spicy. As the white ash grows—about a quarter of the way through—a warm, smoky flavor develops and the finish gets drier. Near the halfway point, look for hints of coffee and caramel and the spicy notes to fade in and out. This medium-bodied stick burns evenly and slowly. Although not a stogie for the meek, this is another one you can smoke down to the nub without getting the least bit of heat or bitterness. In addition to a sterling ’92’ point rating, Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur made Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 cigars of the year when it debuted in 2007. A breakfast blend roast coffee would be a wonderful accompaniment with this stogie.
Honduras has been a tobacco growing and cigar manufacturing area for hundreds of years, but it was the Communist revolution in Cuba that really put Honduras on the map. In the 1960s, many Cuban cigar makers fled their homeland and arrived in Honduras to re-establish their way of life. The immigrants took advantage of the climate, soil, and geography, which were well-suited to tobacco growing, and began producing high quality cigars. The center of the Honduran cigar industry is the city of Danli and the nearby Jamastran Valley. The majority of the world’s pure Corojo tobacco is grown here, now that Cuba has stopped production of this iconic, spicy, and rich variety in favor of Corojo hybrids. Other important areas of Honduran cigar production include the Talanga Valley, Copan, and Trojes.
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