Date Reviewed: 3/14/11
Cigar Date: 2001
The 2001 Hoyo de Monterrey Churchill has a nice build – slight box press, a tight cut yields a smooth draw, and the wrapper is a light cocoa, with hues that make it an almost colorado wrapper. Minimal veins and very smooth. After an easy light, the cigar throws off a fair amount of smoke, eventually building up to a billowing smoke stack towards the end. The burn is perfect, which I tend to expect more out of aged cigars than younger ones. The only downside in terms of build is possibly the ash, which didn’t want to hang on much more than a half to two-thirds of an inch. I had so many “unexpected ashings” that I probably only ended up with 2.5″ to 3″ of ash in the ashtray – the rest ended up on the table or ground.
I opted to pair this with a glass of Lagavulin 16. This wouldn’t be my first pick for a pairing, but I find myself going back to Lagavulin 16 simply because it is a bit en vogue, which means a good number of hotel bars are carrying it – and since I find myself in a hotel bar on a few occasions, I tend to lean towards what is readily available.
The HdM starts off with initial notes that are very woody, and slightly salty. Actually, “very woody” doesn’t do it justice. Loads of wood. Charred cedar. That’s more appropriate. There were also notes of black table pepper.
At one point, even after letting the whisky sit for a while, notes of peat came through. As the burn progressed, there were a few more delicate notes that peaked through the wood, salt, and pepper – tea leaf, and at moments, sugar cane.
After the halfway point, hints of almond and cocoa kept trying to seep through the constant barrage of salt, pepper, and wood, but not enough to really latch on to, unfortunately. The wood did pare down a bit towards the end, but as the nub closed in, the notes became a bit more bland. The last couple of inches were a tad boring.
The whisky seemed to be more of the same.
Nose: tons of wood, floral notes like daisy, lavender, honeysuckle
Palate: oak, peat, floral notes, faint sweet note of caramel, bit of iodine and brine
Finish: long, warm, brine holds into the finish
As for pairing the two, I probably wouldn’t do it again. The finish on the Laga was almost too warm and long, and, with such a wood overtone, combining it with the cigar seems to be the equivalent of chewing on some wood that washed up off the pacific coast… salty, wood, and thats about it.
Neither really cleansed the palate, or did anything for the other. Every now and then the wood notes in each would combat each other, and the sweeter sides – caramel, sugar cane, and to some degree tea leaf – would shine through. More often than not, though, they seemed to be in conflict which each other, trying to prove out which was stronger. On a future pairing, I’ll definitely go with a noticeably sweet option, in hopes that it will subdue the wood and bring out some of the other flavors.
Final Thoughts: The 2001 HdM Churchill has been treated well by age. It is incredibly smooth, and the flavors are still relatively pronounced (considering the age) with the exception of the last couple of inches. I would advise only smoking these when you’re in the mood for wood notes – like I said above, think of chewing on a piece of washed up wood, sitting on a salt water shore. Not a bad thing, but certainly not a profile I want every time.
Aging Thoughts: I don’t suspect more age will help, at least not in excess of a very marginal benefit. As mentioned, it was a very smooth cigar, just tons of salty/peppery wood with fleeting hints of miscellaneous notes. Additional age likely won’t mute the wood and elevate any undertones. It is time to smoke these down, unless you want to save them as a novelty gift for guests who will be more excited about the chance to smoke an “aged Cuban” than they are about the actual flavors.