Established in 1865, Hoyo de Monterrey is among the oldest cigar brands, with a history and provenance as rich and august as any other of the respected cigar makers. Notwithstanding this, Hoyo de Monterrey’s approach is refreshing in that nostalgia is not the focus. Too often brands become shrines to their patriarchs. Hoyo de Monterrey instead pays tribute to its heritage through the pride it takes in each careful step of the process, from cultivation of the fine tobacco to handcrafting the sleek boxes in-house.
The Hoyo de Monterrey philosophy of a simple, uncomplicated process to fine cigar making has permeated the brand from its founding by Don José Gener—a man who began working in tobacco at just thirteen years-old, in1831, at his uncle’s tobacco farm in Vuelta Abajo. Despite his family history in tobacco, and his successful role in the business, Don José created two cigar brands, neither of which bore his name: La Escepcion in 1851, and finally Hoyo de Monterrey in 1865 (named after a rich valley in Vuelta Abajo).
Don José understood he was not the brand. To him, the mark of a fine cigar was not in the name, but in the quality of the tobacco and the expertise in the process. Don José’s focus transcended his passing in 1900 and the sale of Hoyo de Monterrey by the Gener family to Fernando Palicio in 1931. Under Palicio, Hoyo de Monterrey stood unique among his other brands Punch and Belinda. So much so that is was through collaboration with Hoyo de Monterrey that Zino Davidoff created the coveted Cuban Davidoff Chateau Series.
However, due to a brewing of Fidel Castro’s rise to power in the late 1950s, the regime’s increasing nationalization, and the infamous U.S. trade embargo, Hoyo de Monterrey, like several brands, suffered a bifurcation. Palicio sold his brands in 1964 to Frank Llaneza of Villazon & Co., and the Cuban government continued production of Hoyo de Monterrey de Gener through the government-owned Habanos, S.A.. Among the other prominent brands Hoyo de Monterrey came to join within the Villazon family were Flor De Palicio, Preferred Havana, Bances, and Eden.
Frank had taken Villazon from a factory owned by his family in Tampa, to an empire that just kept growing through the most trying times in the premium cigar world. Frank’s vision and leadership was just what was needed to establish Hoyo de Monterrey as a beloved brand in the U.S. market.
Through Frank’s foresight he stockpiled bales of Cuban tobacco in the face of the embargo to continue bringing Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey cigars in the U.S. Market. In the meantime, he brought Cuban tobacco seeds to Honduras.
Because many were critical of the lack of consistency of Cuban cigars after the embargo, Frank used the Cuban seeds to recapture, through Hoyo de Monterrey, the essence of a good Cuban cigar through a process he called “en la manera de los Indios” or “in the way of the of the Indians.”
Today, decades after Frank sold Villazon and Hoyo de Monterrey to General Cigar Co., and over a century after Don José imbued Hoyo de Monterrey with his revolutionary principle of refined simplicity, Hoyo de Monterrey continues to craft cigars in the way of the original aficionados: premium tobacco, fine soil, sunshine, rain, and the skilled hands of expert Torcedores.
This simple process has bred some celebrated lines, including Hoyo de Monterrey’s original flagship line Excalibur, beloved for its bolder flavor, fuller body, and experience reminiscent of Cuban cigars as they were—uncompromised quality and great consistency.
More recently, in honor of its 150th anniversary, Hoyo de Monterrey not only released a new hand-selected, limited run proprietary blend to celebrate its heritage, but it also initiated a sleek, contemporary rebranding as Hoyo. This move marks another evolutionary step emblematic of the brand’s philosophy of keeping an uncomplicated recipe to fine cigar making.
More importantly though, this move leaves Hoyo standing unique in the world of premium cigars as a brand that has not only earned its esteemed rank in the cigar making history, but continues more concerned with securing its role in the future.


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