Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto - Cuban
As winter approaches, the prospect of sitting outdoors for hours on end with a huge cigar becomes less and less appealing. So, for a quick burst of short-lived flavor, I recently tried a couple Petit Robustos from Hoyo de Monterrey. I thought their stubby stature and reputation as small but powerful smokes made them excellent candidates to become go-to cold weather companions.
And why shouldn't the Petit Rubusto be up for such consideration? Since its introduction in 2004, this Cuban puro has amassed a heap of praise from both mainstream cigar publications as well as the online stogie community. Last year, for example, Cigar Aficionado named it one of "Today's Cuban Stars" and granted the four inch by 50 ring gauge stick a generous rating of 92. "The rich, toasty, and decadent character stimulates each taste bud in an elegant, creamy way," wrote James Suckling.
Many seem to have fallen in love with this cigar's compact power. At around $8-12 apiece, the Petit Robusto—which makes use of leaves grown on the banks of the San Juan y Martinez River in the Vuelta Abajo region—has drawn accolades for its complex strength. Mr. Suckling says that potency may be due to Cuban factories' use of "better-aged ligero" tobacco.
Whatever the strategy, my truncated robustos certainly engage the senses before the first light. Spongy and lumpy from head to foot, the dark, toothy wrapper smells of cocoa and espresso. And something about the color and feel of the cigar makes it seem rugged, rustic, and real. The cap clips neatly to reveal a cross-section of tightly rolled tobacco, a perplexing sight given the stick's overall softness. The draw is smooth but deliberate.
As I expected, the initial taste of peppercorn, roasted nuts, and dry cedar is dominant enough to satisfy even the most hardened fans of Don Pepin Garcia. Fortunately, the flavor becomes less abrasive and more nuanced after the first inch with the addition of a creamy undertone. There are little to no changes for the remainder of the 40-minute smoke.
The Petit Robusto has a few physical flaws (not unlike many Cubans these days). The burn tends to meander and require a few touch-ups, and the ash is much flakier than expected.
That's part of the reason why I can't quite agree with the many reviewers who've fallen head over heels for this full-bodied cigar—no matter what the weather. In my book, the slightly longer Epicure No. 2, which sells for approximately the same price, is a much finer, more complex cigar. But if you want to try the Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto yourself, let me recommend picking up a three-pack before purchasing a box. I give this stout beast three and a half stogies out of five.
Thursday, November 13, 2008