Hoyo de Monterrey literally means “the hole of Monterrey,” which coincidentally is also the final destination of a good part of my paycheck. Not so literally, “Hoyo” means a valley, which is a nice place to grow tobacco because the plants are well protected from high winds. The valley of Monterrey is located in Cuba’s famed Vuelta Abajo, and this is where Jose Gener first grew the tobacco for his Hoyos in the mid nineteenth century.
In 1931 the Gener family sold their holdings to Fernandez, Palicio y Cia., the makers of Punch. They produced Hoyos for a couple decades and finally, after being hounded out of Cuba by the little green men, sold the Hoyo de Monterrey brand to the Villazon family. Today the Villazon outfit is owned by General Cigar, and the brand is still produced in their Cofradia, Honduras factory overseen by Estelo Padron.
The Dark Sumatra line was introduced in 2002 using an “unusually dark” Ecuadoran wrapper leaf that Estelo Padron found in one of his warehouses. It is certainly the darkest Ecuadoran wrapper I’ve come across — it is at least a maduro in color, if not oscuro. To create a striking and bold blend, Padron utilizes a Connecticut broadleaf binder and a filler combination of Honduran, Nicaraguan, and piloto cubano leaf from the Dominican Republic.
The names of the various sizes in this line all reflect the dark nature of the wrapper — Media Noche, Noche, and Espresso. This is the Ebano, a grand corona measuring 6 x 45.
Beneath the cedar sheath of the Dark Sumatra lies a very dry wrapper that is almost dusty in appearance — the dark hue of the wrapper highlights this effect, resulting in a somewhat rustic appearance.
The Ebano starts up with a hearty flavor of earth and surprised me with a classic Ecuador Sumatran aroma. I was expecting something different due to the unusual treatment of the wrapper leaf, but it turns out to be the aroma typical of ECSU — very autumnal, a scent of burning leaves and hearth smoke.
The smoke itself is fairly big-boned, full bodied but smooth with no initial bite. Overall, this stick is constructed very well: an even burn that leaves a solid dirty gray ash in its wake, and a firm but easy draw that results in nice clouds of smoke.
At the mid-point this cigar picks up some heavier flavors — a charred earthiness that reminds me of maduro without the sweetness. In the final stage it produces a slight burn in the sinuses and back of the throat.
This is a satisfying and straightforward smoke. There isn’t a whole lot of complexity here, but if you enjoy Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper in a medium to full bodied cigar, the Dark Sumatra is worth a look. Like most premium cigars from General, these are attractively priced at around 3 or 4 USD per stick.