I’ve been a fan of the HDM Epicure #2 for the longest time, ever since i had my first stick all those years ago. I’ve always found it to be the cigar that most consistently delivers on all the promises of a classic Cuban cigar — that tangy, grass and earth flavour, a touch of pepper and spice and an aroma to delight even the most cynical noses. My favourite robusto, i’ve gone through at least 3 cabs of these over the years.

A few days ago what i wanted to do was to revisit an aged HDM Epicure #2. It is normal practice for me to buy “overlapping boxes” of cigars i really enjoy; this means before i finish the current box i’m on, i’ll buy another 1-2 boxes and start smoking from those new arrivals instead, thus leaving the older box untouched (and sometimes even forgotten). This gives me a chance to age my favourite cigars, and on special occasions break out a stick or two from this aged stock to see their progress.

Some cigars are poor at release, but improve with age.
Some cigars are good at release, but degrade with age.
Some cigars are poor at release, and never improve.
Some cigars are good at release and improve with age.

The HDM Epicure #2 falls into that final category. From MAR 05, this particular stick was in perfect condition when i awoke it from it’s long slumber; i haven’t touched this box for several years now (i’ve finished a cab i bought in 2008 in the meantime). It was so perfect, it was almost unbelievable. The wrapper was healthy, shiny with a thin sheen of oils that rubbed between my fingers with sweet aroma. A juicy, fruity scent exploded from the foot of the cigar (to give you an idea of this, the Cohiba Behike wrapper smells the same way, just a lot more intense), and the overall aroma was clean, fresh and appealing. Outstanding.

The pre-light draw was similarly perfect. Just nice, a little bit of resistance, just the way i like it. The dry draw offered rusty, metallic flavours that i found slightly unusual and different from the norm. But it didn’t really distract me, as i took the foot to a flame, and it lit right away.

Right off the bat, i knew this was a different cigar from memory of his brothers and sisters of the same box. HDM Epicure #2’s opening is generally a burst of pepper and spice that announces itself from the beginning and begins to mellow and subside to a mild drumming on the palate as the cigar progresses. That opening volley was missing completely from this particular stick, replaced by a mellow, deep leathery flavour, jumbled in with a measure of toasted beans and coffee. It was a cacophony of sensations dancing on my tongue and i was enjoying it immensely.

The second half really opened the cigar up, as the traditional pepper and spice made an entrance in spectacular fashion.  The power was noticeable, and it was not long before that “pins and needles” sensation began pricking on the tongue and lips. This cigar had me firmly in her grasp by now, and the whole world seemed a blur around me. Nothing else mattered any more.

The final third was marked by a lovely nutty finish; by then my tastebuds and lips were in total subservience to the flavours of this cigar, and what was pins and needles before, felt like it would with the expert touch of a masseuse, totally relaxed, dulled throbbing pleasure.  Right after this cigar was laid to rest, a calm wash rode over me, and falling asleep that night took so little effort at all.

Verdict: 92/100. Truly great cigars taste good at birth, and taste great (yet different) with age. 5 years is not a long time in cigar aging terms, but its certainly long enough to change the complexion and complexities of an already good cigar. I wonder what it’ll be like with 10 years of age? 15?

Cigarone.com has a good selection of vintage cigars, 5-10 years old. Occasionally a box of Epicure #2 will appear (right now a box of Epicure #1 from 2000 is on offer), so watch that page often. Contact me for a special promo code, and you’ll receive a free cigar with  any of your orders.